• At the Government Indian School on Lake Vermilion, Minnesota.

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    At the Government Indian School on Lake Vermilion, Minnesota
    • Date
    • 1912-08
    • Creator
    • United States Steel Corporation
    • Description
    • The members of the U.S. Steel Traffic Committee visited the Indian School at Lake Vermilion. They posed with some of the students and staff in front of the school.
    • Rights
    • This image may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the Minnesota Museum of Mining
    • Partner
    • Minnesota Digital Library; Minnesota Museum of Mining, P O Box 271, Chisholm MN 55719
    • Contributing Institution
    • Minnesota Museum of Mining
    • Is Part Of
    • http://reflections.mndigital.org/cdm/ref/collection/mmm/id/0

  • Indian Boys in native dress, Collegeville, Minnesota.

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    Indian Boys in native dress, Collegeville, Minnesota
    • Date
    • 1887
    • Creator
    • Engel, Peter OSB
    • Description
    • Group portrait of Native American boys in native dress.
    • Rights
    • Copyright© 2005 St. John's Abbey. All Rights Reserved.
    • Partner
    • St. John's Abbey, Collegeville, MN 56321; http://www.saintjohnsabbey.org/archives/; Minnesota Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Saint John's Abbey
    • Is Part Of
    • http://reflections.mndigital.org/cdm/ref/collection/john/id/349

  • Indian Boys in western dress, Collegeville, Minnesota.

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    Indian Boys in western dress, Collegeville, Minnesota
    • Date
    • 1887
    • Creator
    • Engel, Peter OSB
    • Description
    • Group portrait of Native American boys in western dress.
    • Rights
    • Copyright© 2005 St. John's Abbey. All Rights Reserved.
    • Partner
    • St. John's Abbey, Collegeville, MN 56321; http://www.saintjohnsabbey.org/archives/; Minnesota Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Saint John's Abbey
    • Is Part Of
    • http://reflections.mndigital.org/cdm/ref/collection/john/id/350

Anishinaabe children were one group among nearly every Native American nation in the United States and Canada to experience the trauma of being forced to attend boarding school. A concerted effort on the part of both the government and churches to further break down the traditional structure of Native life, kids taken from family homes and put into the boarding school system were commonly subject to forced language and culture loss, as well as physical and sexual abuse.

 The boarding school system for Native children continued well into the 20th century, reaching its peak in the 1970s. Many of the schools were little more than underfunded, unsupervised work camps intended to turn Indian children into servile American adults.

This second image is intended to be a portrait of a group of supposedly freshly-arrived Dakota boys to St. John’s Abbey boarding school in Collegeville, Minnesota, circa 1887. Before and after images of Indian children were de rigeur at boarding schools as a means of showing the “progress” Native students made to donors and the general Euro-American population. A closer look at what the boys are wearing – “feather bonnets” composed of rags, random blankets, and slap-dash face paint - however, show this photo to be entirely manufactured. The darkened, blank background the photo has been staged in further alludes to the boys’ emergence from a savage, unformed state.

The “after” shot depicts the boys with their hair shorn and stripped of their Native attire. The painted, classical Western background and brighter source of light indicates the boys’ emergence into enlightenment due to the boarding school and the Church’s intervention.