During the early twentieth century, administrators at Sherman Institute, a federal Indian boarding school in Riverside, California, sent hundreds of students to work at Fontana Farms, a Southern California mega-ranch. Such work, they argued, would inculcate students with values of thrift and hard work, making them more like white, Protestant Americans. At Fontana, students faced low pay, racial discrimination, and difficult working conditions. Yet, when wage labor proved scarce on home reservations, many engaged the outing system with alacrity. In doing so, they moved beyond the spatial boundaries of the boarding school as historians have imagined it, and they used a program designed to erase native identities in order to carry their cultures forward into the twentieth century.

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