The boarding school legacy : ten contemporary Lakota women tell their stories

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


The purpose of this study is to understand the impact of boarding schools on the lives of Lakota women through their lived experiences as children, adolescents, and adults. The participants related their experiences through a series of open ended questions. The first interview established information about and initial impressions of the boarding school, including everyday activities and how the women felt about being away from home. The second interview allowed the women to describe the impact the boarding school had on their emotional growth and maturation. The final interview discussed how they presently function in their daily lives and the relationship it has to their experiences at boarding school.
The study found that the boarding school experience produced intergenerational effects, particularly on their ability to love themselves and to nurture their children and families. The second finding was that the psychological punishment of loneliness and alienation from the family had a far greater impact on the individuals than the physical punishment. The third finding was that although the women who attended boarding schools were prepared with the skills to lead productive lives, they could not do so effectively until they had begun healing from their experiences. The final conclusion of this study was that by speaking and telling their stories, the participants believed that they could bring healing to themselves and to other women who have had similar experiences at boarding schools.




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