Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Fall 2006


In a twist on assimilation, many boarding school students used the English language, a primary tool of colonization, to "talk back" to the system. As surely as the boarding-schools' inventors understood that language is the vessel of culture, none of them gave much thought to the ways in which Native Americans would use English to critique the schools into which many of them had been unwillingly enrolled.

Their writings, examined by Amelia Katanski, indicate that the boarding-school students were unwilling to surrender as victims. Learning English describes how Native American students in boarding schools often forged new identities, taking a degree of authorial control even as they were victimized by an intense campaign to deny them indigenous language, culture, and identity.


Published in GREAT PLAINS QUARTERLY 26:4 (Fall 2006). Copyright © 2006 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.