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Dan Jerome on Boarding Schools

North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding number five is about tribal policies, treaties and sovereignty. It states, "native people practice self-determination, developing tribal policies, and practicing political activism despite a history of US policies and treaties that have often been detrimental, native people are members of sovereign nations that predate the US government".

In this episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll listen to Dan Jerome, enrolled member of Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa, talk about the good and the bad sides of boarding schools.

Dan Jerome:

My father was born in 1888 in Dakota Territory, and of course, according to everybody else, they were uncivilized. After 25 years of being a state, the federal government wrote North Dakota and congratulating one. It took a short 25 years to civilize the Indian people here in North Dakota. So in 1914, my mother and dad were both civilized, and then in 1924, they made all of us citizens. So when I was born, I was civilized and I was born to civilized parents and citizens of the United States. No, I did not attend boarding school.

My dad and my mother both attended boarding schools and they didn't particularly care for the type of education that was there. They were harsh on them because first of all, my dad didn't speak the English language. He spoke French and he spoke the Michif language and not any English at all. They didn't allow him to speak the language and he was supposed to communicate, I don't know how. With his hands, I suppose. So he didn't want us to go to the boarding schools, and he wouldn't even teach us the language because of that. So, no, they sent us here. But there were a lot of people that did go to boarding school from here, and some of them had a terrible experience with it others had very good experiences. I mean, you get the both sides of the story.

If you'd like to learn more about the North Dakota Native American essential understandings, and to listen to more Indigenous elder interviews, visit

Dakota Datebook: Teachings of Our Elders is produced with support from and in collaboration with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

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