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Kill the Indian, Save the Man: The Genocidal Impact of American Indian Residential Schools

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For five consecutive generations, from roughly 1880–1980, Native American children in the United States and Canada were forcibly taken from their families and relocated to residential schools. The stated goal of this government program was to “kill the Indian to save the man.” Half of the children did not survive the experience, and those who did were left permanently For five consecutive generations, from roughly 1880–1980, Native American children in the United States and Canada were forcibly taken from their families and relocated to residential schools. The stated goal of this government program was to “kill the Indian to save the man.” Half of the children did not survive the experience, and those who did were left permanently scarred. The resulting alcoholism, suicide, and the transmission of trauma to their own children has led to a social disintegration with results that can only be described as genocidal. Ward Churchill is the author of A Little Matter of Genocide, among other books. He is currently a Professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder.


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For five consecutive generations, from roughly 1880–1980, Native American children in the United States and Canada were forcibly taken from their families and relocated to residential schools. The stated goal of this government program was to “kill the Indian to save the man.” Half of the children did not survive the experience, and those who did were left permanently For five consecutive generations, from roughly 1880–1980, Native American children in the United States and Canada were forcibly taken from their families and relocated to residential schools. The stated goal of this government program was to “kill the Indian to save the man.” Half of the children did not survive the experience, and those who did were left permanently scarred. The resulting alcoholism, suicide, and the transmission of trauma to their own children has led to a social disintegration with results that can only be described as genocidal. Ward Churchill is the author of A Little Matter of Genocide, among other books. He is currently a Professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

30 review for Kill the Indian, Save the Man: The Genocidal Impact of American Indian Residential Schools

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dan Sharber

    the indian residential schools were nothing more than concentration camps. one of the main differences though being that the indian residential schools killed a higher percentage of their 'students' than the nazi camps did. also these schools went on for about 100 years. so sorry if you want to whine about people being overly sensitive to things like the name of the dc football team or wearing 'indian' costumes for halloween, but i'm not having any of it. the us and canadian governments the indian residential schools were nothing more than concentration camps. one of the main differences though being that the indian residential schools killed a higher percentage of their 'students' than the nazi camps did. also these schools went on for about 100 years. so sorry if you want to whine about people being overly sensitive to things like the name of the dc football team or wearing 'indian' costumes for halloween, but i'm not having any of it. the us and canadian governments committed genocide on the native peoples of north america. and anyone who wants to say otherwise better stfu and gtfo.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I picked this up in order to do some research for my paper, and it really makes you sick to your stomach to know that atrocities like these were forced upon Native Americans and Canadian Aboriginals. Ward Churchill did not shy away from sharing facts and details about the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse that the "students" faced during their years at the schools for simply being who they were. The effects did not stop as soon as the last residential school closed in the 1980s. It has I picked this up in order to do some research for my paper, and it really makes you sick to your stomach to know that atrocities like these were forced upon Native Americans and Canadian Aboriginals. Ward Churchill did not shy away from sharing facts and details about the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse that the "students" faced during their years at the schools for simply being who they were. The effects did not stop as soon as the last residential school closed in the 1980s. It has trans-generational effects that disrupts familial bonds and structures. As hard as it was to read, I'm glad to have woken myself up a lot more about what these children faced in their youth by the Canadian government. It's a very dark and horrific part of Canadian history, but its important to be aware of.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Published by City Lights Books in SF, [from their website]: "a landmark independent bookstore and publisher that specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics." It seems the author used more "backup" material than text; pages and pages of Notes after each chapter. The message was conveyed and, no doubt about it, nicely-researched. Good pictures. This whole idea was an inhumane travesty; children should not be removed from their parents--to be placed into a children's Published by City Lights Books in SF, [from their website]: "a landmark independent bookstore and publisher that specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics." It seems the author used more "backup" material than text; pages and pages of Notes after each chapter. The message was conveyed and, no doubt about it, nicely-researched. Good pictures. This whole idea was an inhumane travesty; children should not be removed from their parents--to be placed into a children's prison-like environment?? wrong wrong wrong

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sammy Torres

    Should be required reading for every person. American or not. Counter to the lies being told in our history classes propogating the myth of manifest destiny and divine providence, we ought to make more room in our social-political consciousness to reclaim our history and work toward repatriation. Because while Native Americans continue to struggle with complex PTSD conditions and generational economic/political destitution, the same methods of domination are still at work in the "modern" Should be required reading for every person. American or not. Counter to the lies being told in our history classes propogating the myth of manifest destiny and divine providence, we ought to make more room in our social-political consciousness to reclaim our history and work toward repatriation. Because while Native Americans continue to struggle with complex PTSD conditions and generational economic/political destitution, the same methods of domination are still at work in the "modern" neo-liberal globalized system. Runaway corporate capitalism looks a lot like the violence of settler-colonialism, but this time the target is all of us.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Camara Hudson

    This is a must-read for anyone doing education work (either teaching, administrating or advocating). The experiences of Native North American children in residential schools is thoughtfully outlined and discussed. The framework of genocide, which Churchill uses throughout the book, is especially useful because it brings the context of residential schools in line with the broader actions of the US and Canadian governments to remove/reduce populations of native people.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Devastating. This or equivalent should be required reading in all history classes. Higher percentages of death in North American residential schools than at Dachau. For a hundred years these schools were a government- perpetuated genocide. Tragic and crushing.

  7. 5 out of 5

    R.K. Cowles

    4 1/4 stars

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Munn

    It was an amazing book that thoroughly details the white washing of American Indians and it is very emotionally hard to read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Ward Churchill is utterly brilliant - he beautifully links together the genocidal policies of both the American and Canadian governments in this succinct, gripping and devastating examination of the impact of the residential schools on First Peoples - what is the most tragic element of his close examination are those voices who spoke out about impact of the schools at a time when it might have been too late to stop the horrors that they inflicted Peter Henderson Bryce here in Canada who as early Ward Churchill is utterly brilliant - he beautifully links together the genocidal policies of both the American and Canadian governments in this succinct, gripping and devastating examination of the impact of the residential schools on First Peoples - what is the most tragic element of his close examination are those voices who spoke out about impact of the schools at a time when it might have been too late to stop the horrors that they inflicted Peter Henderson Bryce here in Canada who as early as 1907 spoke out against the schools on the basis of how mismanaged they were and who in 1922 put his career on the line because he called the schools a national crime - Churchill's book is so well-researched and thoughtfully constructed - I am once again shattered by what we did as a nation. Nothing.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Ely

    This book is a real eye-opener to the atrocities committed toward American Indians in the name of "civilizing" them. This is an in-depth study of the horrors and damages (if damage can begin to cover what took place) that occurred in the Boarding Schools for the American Indian children. This book should be read by everyone who wishes to have a broader understanding of the American Indian experience in North America, and the abuses the American government imposed on them. This is not an easy This book is a real eye-opener to the atrocities committed toward American Indians in the name of "civilizing" them. This is an in-depth study of the horrors and damages (if damage can begin to cover what took place) that occurred in the Boarding Schools for the American Indian children. This book should be read by everyone who wishes to have a broader understanding of the American Indian experience in North America, and the abuses the American government imposed on them. This is not an easy read as it contains content that is difficult to take in, but I still recommend this book especially for educators.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Brief book packed with stats and stories about American Indian Residential Schools. Particularly interesting given Churchill's argument that these schools were a key part of the genocide against Native Americans.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Glenn

    (I started this book originally when I was in the hospital - my dad read me parts of it) But it really dealt with the residential schools for Native Americans and discussed the impact that they had on their society to try to get all of Americans the 'same'

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jigglin

    In depth analysis of the boarding school genocide against the native peoples of America.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    an absolute must read for any one interested in the history of how the kidnapping of children was sancioned by government way before the nazis did it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    very good. a lot of info packed into few pages. however, not always clear when talking about the usa or canada

  16. 5 out of 5

    Allison6876

    read for paper AMIN 3201W

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Kinnaird

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adam Marsan

  19. 5 out of 5

    John

  20. 5 out of 5

    Scott Grimmwise

  21. 4 out of 5

    Claudio

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Means

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Tarjeft

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lori Hicks

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steven L

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anna

  28. 5 out of 5

    John Ervin

  29. 4 out of 5

    Charly

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

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