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Humanities 2015, 4(4), 726-747; doi:10.3390/h4040726

Student Snapshots: An Alternative Approach to the Visual History of American Indian Boarding Schools

Department of World Arts and Cultures, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
Academic Editor: Albrecht Classen
Received: 11 August 2015 / Revised: 8 October 2015 / Accepted: 14 October 2015 / Published: 26 October 2015
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Abstract

Photographs of American Indian boarding school students have often been usedto illustrate the federal forced assimilation practices of the 1870s–1930s. Taken by officialschool photographers, these propagandistic images were produced to emphasize the“civilizing” benefits of the boarding school system. Although some Native studentsobtained cameras and recorded their own boarding school experiences, the visual historystill relies on the institutionally-produced images. Using a collection of photographscreated by Parker McKenzie (Kiowa) and his classmates while attending Rainy Mountainand Phoenix Indian Schools, this paper intends to rectify that exclusion through a readingof these snapshots as examples of visual sovereignty. The concept of visual sovereigntyinvolves examining Native self-representations as the (re)claiming of indigenous identitiesin order to counter colonial imagery that has dominated the archives. View Full-Text
Keywords: American Indian; Native American; indigenous; boarding school;photography; visual culture; visual sovereignty; self-representation American Indian; Native American; indigenous; boarding school;photography; visual culture; visual sovereignty; self-representation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Strathman, N. Student Snapshots: An Alternative Approach to the Visual History of American Indian Boarding Schools. Humanities 2015, 4, 726-747.

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