Boarding School and Land Allotment Eras 1879-1933


Compulsory attendance law for Native Boarding School attendance

A photo of graduates of the Carlisle Boarding School.
A photo of graduates of the Carlisle Boarding School.

In 1891, the government issues a “compulsory attendance” law that enables federal officers to forcibly take Native American children from their homes and reservations. Tabatha Tooney Booth, from the University of Oklahoma, wrote in her paper, “Cheaper Than Bullets”: “Many parents had no choice but to send their kids, when Congress authorized the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to withhold rations, clothing, and annuities of those families that refused to send students. Some agents even used reservation police to virtually kidnap youngsters, but experienced difficulties when the Native police officers would resign out of disgust, or when parents taught their kids a special “hide and seek” game. Sometimes resistant fathers found themselves locked up for refusal. The Hopis in Arizona surrendered a group of men to the military to be imprisoned in Alcatraz, rather than voluntarily relinquishing their children.”

Settler Colonial Policy