Navajo forced education mistake with photos

The Navajo   treaty  1868 required the government to provide education at the rate of one teacher for every thirty children between the ages of six and sixteen.

Navajo students at Carlisle upon arrival

Navajo students at Carlisle upon arrival

The feeling that education is a white man’s invention is completely in error and reflects the “father knows best” approach which characterizes so much of the dealings of the dominant society with the Native Americans.

The Navajos did have a traditional system of education which allowed and provided the means by which Navajo culture could be passed on, changed, and retained.

Tom Toslino - Navajo as he arrived at Carlisle and after 3 years after

Tom Toslino - Navajo as he arrived at Carlisle and after 3 years after

First, the development and reliance on off-reservation boarding schools was one of the major devices whereby formal Navajo education was effected. The objective was the destruction of Navajo culture by removing the child far from the harmful influence of his home and family.

Navajos as they arrived at the Carlisle School

Navajos as they arrived at the Carlisle School

Navajos six months after arrival at the Carlisle School

Navajos six months after arrival at the Carlisle School

Carlisle Indian School was founded by a man who had both courage and vision but a man whose vision did not include any future or need for Indian culture and the continuation of separate Indian tribes.
Colonel Pratt, the founder of Carlisle Indian School, was an army officer with experience in fighting Indians on the southern plains and whose dream for the Indian included the destruction of Indian tribal entities and the abolition of Indian culture.

The technique used to accomplish these twin purposes was the establishment of an army-oriented boarding school far removed from the damaging influences of Indian tribes, Indian parents and Indian reservations.

Colonel Pratt started a system of education which is still prevalent and evident today: boarding schools located in off-reservation communities. Many teachers in those and other types of Indian schools even today believe that the future success of Indian students will rest in direct proportion to the degree that they forget their Indian language, culture and history and become “real Americans” who understand and believe only in the primacy and supremacy of the dominant society and its way of life.

Ruth Underhill, Here Comes the Navajo, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1953,
Richard Henry Pratt, Battlefield and Classroom -Four Decades with the American Indian, 1867-1904, Yale University Press, 1964.


  1. Yuliya dreyer says

    I homeschool my youngest child and we read about code talkers and told him the stories I read of Dineh, the People. He asked more questions. And so I found this page researching. Thank you for such a wealth of information. We used the code talkers code to spell his name in code. He is only ten, but he asked good questions and hopefully will read more and learn about your proud people and beautiful language and history.
    Thank you.

  2. Big Daddy J Money says

    I am doing a project on the dineh and I learned a lot of cool things I am 10 years of age

  3. Cassie, You are not alone I too am a Navajo (Dine), born and raised in Shiprock NM. I went to school in shiprock (reservation school system) and eventually graduated from the High School. I went off to college and found that there was no discipline among the college students (Always seem to partying) so I enlisted into the Us Military and eventually finished my B.S. and MBA while serving my country. I think that coming from the reservation has made me a person who can work as a group, team and especially alone. I found that many non-Navajo’s could not stand being alone for long periods of time and that was my advantage . I say this because I was able to concentrate on my studies even reading and researching sometimes 12 or more hours a day continuously. I remember on the reservation those nine day ceremonies where one has to sit and pray all day and night and when I studied in the military as well as in college I had those characteristics of reading sometimes 3 days straight in which I finished many books from start to finish. Remember as a Navajo our culture is what makes us strong and makes us who we are, My only hope is that our Navajo youths will use their culture as a way to succeed in the Main stream society. Take care and continue with your studies. Ah Heh Head, Sha Giis

  4. Cassie Morris says

    I am seventeen years old. I am a Navajo and I live on the Navajo Reservation since I was born. I go to school 48 miles away and I stay at the residential dorm. I am doing a report on this and how the Navajo people grew and prospered through hard times. This really opens my eyes on how my ancestors grew. I am startled that this had happened and it still is. I go to school with other Native Americans and we still continue to struggle with education and combining our traditional and modern values we have right now. One day my people will rise and gain more knowledge and by combing our values. We will stand for our rights. Every year our graduating class has more Navajo kids going away to College. I am very curious on our future right now.

  5. Thank you for creating this website specifically about the Navajos. The largest tribe today but not much publicized about their journey.

  6. I am so applauded that their children were ripped out from their homes and out of the safety of their community. It still sickens me til this day these atrocities have ever taken place.THIS IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY!!!

  7. Regards for this wondrous post, I am glad I observed this internet site on yahoo.