The U.S. federal government’s harsh policy of compulsory Indian education in the form of boarding schools began in 1879 and continued through the Great Depression, with boarding schools on and off Indian Reservations remaining prominent through 1970. Presently, boarding schools are still the main means of K-8 education in rural Indian communities. This presentation will impart the dramatic stories of three individuals: a grandfather, his daughter, and his granddaughter who all attended boarding schools throughout the 1920s, the Great Depression, and the mid-1950s through 1971. Telling these stories promotes an understanding of how boarding schools changed the language, culture, lifestyle, and traditions of American Indian people.
Dr. Evangeline Parsons Yazzie is a Navajo woman, originally from the community of Hardrock on the Navajo Reservation. She is a Professor Emerita of Navajo at Northern Arizona University (NAU). She obtained a Masters of Arts degree in Bilingual Multicultural Education (NAU) and a Doctorate degree in Education (NAU). Evangeline retired from NAU after 24 years of teaching. Evangeline is a novelist, the author of four novels in Navajo and English which are based upon the Navajo Long Walk (1864 through 1868). She is an author of a popular Navajo language textbook, and the author of an award-winning bilingual children’s book.