130 PICS

“To Kill the Indian in the Child” 100 Years of Genocide in North America

To document Native North American survivors of genocide who, as children, were forcibly taken from their families and sent to abusive government boarding schools to have their culture destroyed as a “final solution” to the Indian problem.

From the 1870s through the 1970s the Governments of the U.S. and Canada embarked on a program to eliminate Indian culture and language by rounding up native children and shipping them to boarding schools where they were forbidden to speak their language and forced to learn the white man’s ways.

Many atrocities occurred at these schools– torture, rape, language eradication, deliberate infection of students with diseases, and separation of siblings. Many students died and never returned home. Many were surreptitiously buried on school grounds, often in unmarked graves.

However, as a prominent Indian tribal member and historian has pointed out: “The real crime of genocide [and later defined as such by the UN] was the forcible removal of children from family, friends and community– other abuses that occurred while it happened, merely makes it worse.”

On September 8, 2000, Kevin Gover, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior offered an apology. “Worst of all,” he said, “the Bureau of Indian Affairs committed these acts against the children entrusted to its boarding schools, brutalizing them emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually. The trauma of shame, fear and anger has passed from one generation to the next, and manifests itself in the rampant alcoholism, drug abuse, and domestic violence that plague Indian country.”

Echoing this on June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on behalf of the Canadian Government, offered a public apology (along $2 billion in reparations) to 80,000 living former students of these schools and said: “Two primary objectives of the residential schools system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture. These objectives were based on the assumption that aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, ‘to kill the Indian in the child.’”

On my Dream Assignment, I would visit pre-selected Indian reservations in the U.S. and Canada, shoot portraits of the survivors and interview them about their experiences and how their lives were impacted then and to this day. I would also document some of the old school buildings that still exist. The images, along with relevant excerpts from survivors’ commentary, would be published as a book and prints for a traveling exhibit would also be prepared.

Few Americans and Canadians are aware of this tragic chapter in their national histories (or if they are, tend not to believe it). I have wanted to do this assignment for some time now but have not been able to obtain funding due to the highly sensitive nature of the subject. The prize money would cover the expenses of the shoot, the publication of the book and the preparation of exhibit prints. A renowned First Nations Canadian author has agreed to consult on the project and write a preface to the book.

Photographically documenting the unconscionable treatment of these children will finally put it on record in a visually graphic way so that it cannot be denied. But most of all, it is hoped that when this Dream Assignment is completed, it will help bring closure and healing to thousands of school survivors whose lives and culture were so cruelly damaged.

Rank: 110



I have not heard much about this, though I am sure my friend Josh who is 1/8th Miami might be able to enlighten me. You've got my vote. Feel free to return the favor, and vote for my project to document issues in Zimbabwe.


A very important topic, often forgotten. I'd love to see the book. Let me know what you think of my idea too.


You've got my vote, please return the favor.


u got mine! good luck! :D


Great Idea! You got my vote- return the favor?


Very genuine idea! Check out mine. Thank you !


My dad wrote a book, "Room for the Indians" that chronicled his experiences with Lakota Sioux. Yours is a great, great dream and I am happy to vote for it.


What a great cause, and great idea! I voted! let me know what you think of mine!


We talked a lot about this genocide in my class on genocide and politics last semester. Best of luck. Voted.

Check out my project on innovation and technology as change for the developing world and my portfolio here: http://maclellanimages.com/blog1/galleries/


awesome idea, you gote my vote, please check out mine and return the vote, good luck!


This is an awesome idea! I pic'd it. Return the vote?


You have my vote, If you get the chance, check out my dream "From Australia With Love" and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE vote for it!




A wonderful vision. If you would, please vote for mine too. Maybe one of us may win! Should be done - inspirational.


You have my vote.


You've got my vote and my suitcase is packed and I'm ready to help - Libby


I'm with Libby. You've got my vote and I'll gladly help. what we've done to native americans is as criminal and ugly as anything in the history of mankind.


You have my vote. Good luck.


I really hope you win. This is something I would like to see documented.


Sounds like a worthy and visually terrific project. I have visited a few U.S. Indian reservations and the sad results of what was done to those poor people are still painfully evident in many (not all) of them.


Art.....this sounds like a wonderful project; both the enlightenment of the story of how our government sometimes has a very dark and tragic past and the dramatic imagery that helps tells the story.

Off to Asia for two weeks.......Oscar 1


Art I must sincerely thank you for your inspiration to the interest and development of my hobby. I have resisted the urge to buy a new camera and I still consider my hobby as a constant effort to improve my skills and my inner vision. The old "Olly E-20" still captures some treasures.
Oscar 1


Happy to support your effort. I have several friends (aquaintances) who were/are 'survivors'. Some
>of them are unable to even relate their experiences because their
>heads are too badly screwed from the experience.


I have read many books over the years on native americans, always was disgusted on what happened in this country with wiping out the native peoples. This project is a good one! people need to show more understanding and compassion to native americans today.


Wonderfully written! I will be anxious to see the photos.


Glad to lend whatever support to help it happen. We do indeed need to start in our own backyards and fight for the rights and future of our First Peoples. Good luck.


John from DDQ. I voted for you! Hope you'll support my idea on sustainable agriculture as well.


Great idea, hope you get to do it.


Good luck, Arthur. You've chosen a story that needs to be told. Count me in when you go.


Arthur-- You've got my vote and my confidence. Excellent underreported subject. Missed you this March. Count me in when Jo goes to help! patsyhale


Good idea, check out mine and vote for me if you like it. Its about poverty and society in 3rd world countries and how they are controlled, devastated by their governments and western industrialized nations.

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