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Histories and memories of the Indian boarding schools in Mexico, Canada, and the United States

Dawson, Alesander S
June 4, 2015

Source: (2012) Latin American Perspectives

Indigenismo can be found in almost every country in the Americas. Most
indigenistas attempted to write the Indian into their national pasts and adopted similar
modernizing projects. Still, what appears to be a common history can be deceiving.
Examination of one indigenista project in three distinct American contexts—the
indigenous boarding schools in Mexico, Canada, and the United States—indicates
considerable differences in practice. For one thing, while the boarding schools north of
the border aimed to separate students from the deleterious influence of their communities
and bring them into the cultural mainstream, in Mexico indigenous communities were
essential to development strategies, and the internados, as an important element of these
strategies, sought to cultivate rather than break down ethnic affiliations. These and other
differences in the politics that emerged from these projects suggest that the study of
indigenismo may require attention to the ways in which particular power arrangements
give meaning to indigenous identities.


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