The U.S. Congress passed a law in 1864 making it illegal for Indian children to be taught in their native languages.

At four years old, children were taken from their families and sent away to U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) boarding schools as part of the U.S. policy to extinguish native cultures.

Over a hundred years later, with the Indian Self Determination Act in the 1970's, native peoples took back the right to educate their own children, but it was another decade and a half before Native American communities in significant numbers began taking over administrative control of their schools.

In the 1980's the Tribal Colleges Act mandated the establishment of a Community College on every reservation, making it possible for young people to receive education without leaving their families. The colleges are evolving now into community resource centers where people of all ages are gaining access to high tech tools, even on reservations like Rocky Boy where many people don't have telephones in their homes.

The Native American Language Act of 1990 brought change full circle, reinstituting the right for children to be taught in their traditional languages. BACK to Part One/ BACK to Part Two