From the beginning Methodist missionaries stressed education as a form of evangelism and mission work with Indigenous Peoples. This eventually led to missionaries becoming Indian agents for the US government. According to the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, in the 19th and 20th centuries "There were more than 350 government-funded, and often church-run, Indian Boarding schools across the US." Find out more on their website: Boarding School history here and History of the Churches involved here.
A documentary film on the Abuses of the Indian Boarding Schools discusses the intergenerational trauma in Native American communities. Watch the "Wellbriety Movement: Journey of Forgiveness" here.
In 1879 The first government-run boarding school for Native American children opened at Carlisle Pennsylvania under the direction of Lt. Col. Richard Henry Pratt. It is known that Methodists were teachers at the Carlisle Indian School. The NEJNAMC is supportive of the work of the The Carlisle Indian school project more historical information on the Carlisle Indian School can be found here.
More information regarding Schools in Oklahoma and under the purview of Methodism can be found through the Oklahoma Historical Society Website, Oklahoma State University Website, and various Methodist archives including those of the General Board on Archives and History housed at Drew University.
Child Removal via Foster Care
The United States Government also carried out cultural genocide through systematic assimilation of Native Peoples through the US Foster Care System. Children were removed from their homes and placed in the homes of non-Native (often white) families. Despite the passage by Congress of the INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT (ICWA) in 1978 in response to the alarmingly high rate of Native children being separated from their parents, extended families, and tribal communities, children continue to be taken from their homes and placed with non-Native families. The movie Dawnland discusses the harm that continues through the systematic removal of Native American Children from their homes. To learn more or to hold your own screening in your local congregation or Annual Conference visit the Dawnland homepage here. For more information about ICWA go here.