6 Boarding School Laws Still on the Books
Did you know it is still legal to withhold food and clothing from Indian children who don’t attend school? Or that Indian children can be placed in reform schools without parental consent?
While it is unlikely these laws would be enforced, these and other boarding school laws are still on the federal law books. According to Native American Rights Staff Attorney Melody McCoy, some of the laws are at least outdated, and at worst assimilationist, racist and genocidal.
As bad as some may sound, a few have actually benefitted tribes in present-day courtrooms.
McCoy and Todd County, South Dakota, School Superintendent Dr. Roger Bordeaux (Association of Tribal Schools) have looked at these laws and considered their purpose. Should the laws stand? Be removed? Are they outdated or could there still be some relevance?
Excerpts of the laws are below. To read the full law, click the links provided. Let us know what you think!
25 USC § 302, Indian Reform School—Enacted June 21, 1906
The Commissioner of Indian Affairs, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, is authorized and directed to . . . specifically provide an “Indian Reform School”, and to make all needful rules and regulations for its conduct, and the placing of Indian youth therein, and, “That the consent of parents, guardians, or next of kin shall not be required to place Indian youth in said school.”
McCoy called the law offensive, and said, “The federal Indian schools were already bad enough—why would the government want one that was even more penal/correctional? Also, the express provision that parental consent is NOT required to send Indian kids to reform school would—at least today—be subject to some basic due process rights (like notice and a hearing) under the U.S. Constitution.”
Bordeaux said, “This is a concept discussed as recently as 1976. Repeal.”