Most Native Americans have painful stories of family members who attended boarding schools. The federal government created the schools with the purpose of destroying American Indian culture.
Countless former students say the punishment they endured at the schools made them depressed, violent, and turn to substances to cope.
That’s why is difficult to reconcile what’s happening today.
A few of the schools remain open – and thousands of Native children are choosing to enroll.
For a lot of them, the reformed institutions offer a respite from the turmoil on reservations, even though their families blame the problems on the legacy of the schools.
The issue has always surrounded me, as my friends and family have experienced the full spectrum. But I knew I needed to report it when my master’s project advisor, a seasoned journalist, didn’t know the schools still existed.
At NPR, I worked with a talented team of journalists to turn the piece into a two-part series for Morning Edition.
It was honored with a RTDNA/Unity Award.
Researchers, bloggers, and Native community members continue to cite the series today.