It’s a nightmare parents never want to go through: having your children taken from your home and sent away to boarding schools against your will. 

That’s what happened to tens of thousands of Native American children in the late 1800s to as recent as the 1960s.

The federal government required that all children attend these boarding schools until they graduated and sometimes they would be sent thousands of miles away.   The goal was to assimilate these children by changing everything about them including the way they dressed, talked, and looked. 

Tim Giago attended Holy Rosary Mission on the Pine Ridge reservation and says they had to forget everything about what they knew before school. 

“They pounded into your head that whatever religion you had before you came to school was evil and wrong. Your medicine men were evil. Everything that had to do with who you were, or what you were, what your family was, was all wrong. We had to rebuild ourselves and start all over and become a new person,” Giago said.

That was only the beginning of how their lives would be impacted forever. 

On tonight’s Eye on KELOLAND, we take you into South Dakota’s dark past and talk with the survivors about their experiences at the South Dakota boarding schools.