Using a comparative mode of analysis, this article offers a new perspective on Indian assimilation policy in the United States. It focuses on one aspect of assimilation policy common to the United States and Australia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries-the practice of removing indigenous children from their families and communities and placing them in institutions. The article argues that there is a subtle difference in the way that Americans and Australians described "assimilation"taking place-namely, the extent to which white Americans and white Australians openly planned to "whitewash" indigenous identity through interracial relationships. Nevertheless, while children of mixed descent played a very different role in the grandiloquent words used by reformers and politicians to describe their nation's policies,similar ideas about their role in the absorption and eventual disappearance of the indigenous population into the white one can be discerned in both contexts.

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