Native American and Alaskan Native Children

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Children of Native Americans and Native Alaskans were frequently taken from their birth families by Indian Agents (agents of the US Bureau of Indian Affairs), often by subterfuge, and placed in government or mission boarding schools. The acknowledged reason for this was to eradicate Native American and Alaskan Native culture.

The children were beaten for speaking their own languages and their cultures were routinely denigrated in an attempt to alienate them from their backgrounds. In many respects this was like the treatment meted out to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children.

This practice has been superseded by the transracial adoption of Native American children, which is condemned by many, but not all, NA leaders.

In a similar way, in Brazil, around 1900, the Catholic Capuchin Fathers operated a policy in the northern coastal area around Alto Alegre of forcibly removing children and babies from their Amerindian parents and raising them in convents, to save their souls. Another modern example of mass theft of children in an attempt to eradicate a culture is the Kinder der Landstraße scandal in Switzerland from 1926 to 1973, where the victims were the Roma people.


Ellis, Clyde. To Change Them Forever: Indian Education at the Rainy Mountain Boarding School, 1893-1920. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996)
Huxley, Francis. Affable Savages. (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1963), pp. 29-30
Clay, Rebecca A. "Bill Would Protect Rights of Native American Children: Congress Considers a Bill That Would Clarify Laws Regarding the [Adoptive] Placement of American Indian Children" [American Psychological Association. APA Monitor]. Available at:
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. "Policy Statement [January 1995]: The Placement of American Indian Children: The Need for Change." Available at:
McKiver, Beverley. "Welcome to The Native Adoptee." Available at:
Graham, Judith. "Adoption Apology too Late for Indians," Chicago Tribune, 7 May 2001. Available at:,2669,ART-51625,00.html
Demer, Lisa. "Natives Receive Apology for 1950s Racial Adoptions," Anchorage Daily News, 21 April 2001. Available at:,2633,260705,00.html
In addition, a number of biographies and autobiographies of Native Americans tell of their experiences in BIA boarding schools


Native American and Alaskan Native, Inuit
19th Century
20th Century
Birth Identity Disputed or Deliberately Concealed
Exile or Persecution (religious, Political or Social)
Multiple or Unspecified
Child Removed from Home by Social Services
Sent to Boarding School, Apprenticed or Fostered as Part of Normal Traditional Child-Rearing
Government Policy, Assimilation
Trans-Racial, Trans-Tribal, International or Trans-Cultural Adoption or Fostering
Customary or Traditional Adoption, Informal and Extra-Legal Care
Institutional Care
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