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Community conversation: Native American boarding schools

During the 19th and 20th centuries, hundreds of thousands of Native American children were sent to live in boarding schools across the United States in an attempt to extinguish native culture. Established by the Indian Civilization Act the stated policy of these institutions was to “kill the Indian and save the man.”

As part of Native American Heritage Month, on Nov. 16 the Bennion Center for Community Engagement will be holding a dialogue on the history of these schools and the impact they still have on indigenous peoples and the United States.

“We want to discuss why these schools existed as well as the generational and intergenerational trauma that has occurred because of them,” said Dean McGovern, executive director of the Bennion Center. “We also want to look at the legacy that has been left, and what needs to be done to heal from that experience.”

The Bennion Center regularly holds these dialogues in a series entitled “Community Conversations” to provide an opportunity to reflect on issues important to the campus and community. Everyone is invited to attend, but registration is required. “We started in May 2020, and we’ve been conducting them every other week on Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m.,” said McGovern. “The purpose is to listen, be heard, reflect and build relationships with others around topics that affect all of us, and also to help folks feel a little less alone.”