Graduation Year


Document Type

Senior Thesis


Bachelor of Arts

Primary Major

Political Science

Primary Minor


Second Minor

Latin American Studies

Thesis Advisor

Alison Howard, MA


Native Americans have a complex relationship with the United States government. Ever since the first European settlers arrived in the Americas, Native American lifestyle and culture began to dissipate. Native Americans have had their culture, identity, traditions and language dis- respected by the U.S. government. Every treaty Native Americans ever entered with the U.S. government has been broken by the U.S. government. One of the most momentous periods in the relationship between Native Americans and the federal government involves the creation of resi- dential boarding schools. These schools were developed to “civilize” Native American children. Prior research has examined the consequences of the creation of these boarding schools, as well as what students experienced throughout this era of assimilation. What hasn’t been thoroughly examined are the factors that contributed to the creation of residential boarding schools and the assimilation era by the U.S. government in the 19th century. Using historical methodology this thesis explores the factors that contributed to the establishment of these boarding schools in order to gain a more complete understanding of this time period and why the federal government un- dertook these actions. I have found that political, economic, cultural and religious factors con- tributed to the establishment of government funded residential boarding schools.