The federal government of the United States developed a complex System of boarding schools for Native Americans in the 19(th) century. This effort was generally insensitive and often brutal. In spite of such brutality many students managed to negotiate and create new understandings of traditions and cultural autonomy while in such schools. Now, however, some former students remember their lives as students with mixed emotions. Drawing on oral history interviews and public official documents, the author examines the recreational and athletic life at the boarding schools and finds that students were, nevertheless, able to experience pleasure and pride in creating new ways of expressing their identities as Native Americans.

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