An example of the cultural component of the US genocide. Indigenous children from throughout US-occupied territory of the northern subcontinent of the Western Continent [“North America” (European naming)], removed from their Indigenous families and communities and relocated as ”students” at the US Government-run Carlisle Indian Industrial School (the first off-reservation US forced assimilation institution). Carlisle, Pennsylvania, about the year 1900.

The above photo and the below photo, with approximately ten years difference in time between them, were taken during the same period in the history of the region.

Above photo: An example of the cultural component of the US genocide. 

Below photo: And example of the physical component of the US genocide.

Both components of the genocide, the physical and the cultural, were different means to the same end: intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such (UN/ICC definition of genocide).

An example of the physical component of the US genocide.  US soldiers standing by a mass grave into which at least approx. 150 recovered bodies of the between approx. 200 and 300 Indigenous men, women, and children who died (according to most estimates) were being thrown. Frozen bodies of … “…little children, with their bodies shot to pieces, thrown naked into the pit”. (a member of the US Government-hired burial party, source) 3 January 1891. The US Government awarded approximately twenty Medals of Honor (the USA’s highest military honor) to soldiers who participated in this genocidal massacre.  (Wounded Knee Massacre)

From the Gnadenhutten Massacre to the Wounded Knee Massacre


By: Marc Immanuel

Originally published on: 5 December 2016
Last updated on: 14 May 2018

The Transfer of the Children of a Conquered Population
to Forced Assimilation Institutions

During the approximately 150-year period between 1776 and 1924, the United States was in the process of a long-term war of aggression (war of conquest) against the Indigenous nations and tribes inhabiting the collective region that became the US-occupied territory of the 48-state contiguous United States.

During that period, beginning in the 1860s, the US Government began removing Indigenous children from their families and Indigenous communities in US-occupied territory and transferring them to US Government-funded, Government-run or church-run forced assimilation institutions.

[a crime against humanity, ICC Statute, Article 7 (1) (d):
“deportation or forcible transfer of population”]

The International Definition of “Genocide”

In 1943, during World War II, the wordgenocide was invented by lawyer Raphael Lemkin, both as a continuation of his 1933 Madrid Proposal and as part of his analysis of Nazi Germany’s occupation policies in the region “Europe”.

In his Madrid Proposal, presented at an international conference held at Madrid in 1933 (the year Adolph Hitler rose to power in the State of Germany),  Lemkin first proposed the creation of an international convention making the extermination of human groups — which he then initially termed as “acts of barbarity” — an international crime.

A decade later, while the Nazi Holocaust was going on, Lemkin proposed to the international community the term “genocide”.  The term “genocide” literally means ‘the killing of a racial/national/ethnic group’ (formed on Latin, –cide, ‘to kill’, and Greek, genos, ‘racial/national/ethnic group’). In Lemkin’s definition of the term, he defined “genocide” as, basically: ‘the destruction of a nation or ethnic group’. 

Lemkin wrote that the word “genocide” is a “new word…  to denote an old practice in its modern development”. He used the word “genocide” broadly — to describe not only policies of physical extermination but a “coordinated plan of different actions (techniques)” — (1) political, (2) social, (3) cultural, (4) economical, (5) biological, (6) physical, (7) religious, and (8) moral. 

.                                                                               An Imperialism-Motivated Genocide:
.                                                                                       “Absorption or Extermination”

The cultural component of “genocide has become known as “cultural genocide”. ‘Cultural genocide’ may be defined as:  ‘the systematic destruction of traditions, values, language, and other elements which make a one group of people distinct from other groups’.

‘Cultural genocide’ is not included within the current international legal (UN/ICC) definition of ‘genocide’. The international legal term ‘genocide’ was established in 1948 and is based on the physical and biological components of ‘(overall) genocide’.

The 1879-1978 official US Government policy of Federal-funded forced assimilation institutions was a component of the US Establishment’s imperialism-motivated plan for the systematic destruction of the multiple indigenous peoples throughout all US-occupied territory — destruction not necessarily as individuals, but as distinct national/ethnical groups.

US imperialism-motivated genocide (1776-1978) against the various indigenous peoples in the territory the United States dominated in the northern subcontinent of the Western Hemisphere (“North America”) consisted of the following policies which under contemporary international criminal law definitions are defined as crimes:

war of aggression, to dominate territory and natural resources (1776-1924)
[the ‘crime of aggression‘ under contemporary international criminal law]
extermination in whole or in part (1776 — about 1900)
[the crime of ‘physical genocide‘ (criteria a-b)]
conditions calculated to bring about destruction in whole or in part (1776 — about 1900)
[the crime of ‘physical genocide‘ (criterion c]
● sale of women and children into slavery, or forced servitude (1776 — about 1900)
[a ‘crime against humanity‘ (criterion c), and a part of systematic genocide]
● forced relocation to US-designated “reservations” (1776 – completed by about 1900)
[a ‘crime against humanity‘ (criterion d), and a part of systematic genocide]
forced cultural and biological assimilation (1776-1978) 
[the crimes of ‘cultural genocide‘ (Article 8:1) and ‘biological genocide‘ (criteria d-e)]
(as of 2015, de facto policy of biological genocide criterion (e), “transferring of children”, continued)

“The only alternative left is civilization or annihilation, absorption or extermination.”

— Superintendent, at Hawskell Institute
(Indigenous Boarding School), Lawrence, Kansas,
annual report, 262, Office of Indian Affairs, 1888 [full quote]

“Genocide has two phases:
one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group;
the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor.”

— Raphael Lemkin, inventor of term “genocide“, 1944
(source 13)

A Contract of the US Government With US Christian Denominations
to Begin to Implement Systematic Cultural Genocide Upon Indigenous Peoples
  [source 6]

In 1872, the Board of Indian Commissioners — a body of religious men established by the US  Congress to undertake the “Christianization” of Indigenous Peoples within US-jurisdiction territory — allotted 73 “Indian agencies” (US Government beaurocratic agencies organizing the US boarding school system) to various Christian denominations.

Among them were Roman Catholic, various Protestant (Methodist, Presbytarian, Baptist, Lutheran), Episcopalian, and Uniitarian churches. Each denomination was responsible for the supervision of Indigenous boarding schools within its given territory and was complicit in carrying out policies of cultural genocide that played out in the classroom.

The Motto of the US Government’s Boarding School System (1879-1978):
“Kill the Indian, Save the Man”
[sources: 1-7]

The Carlisle Indian Industrial School (1879-1918) was the first off-reservation forced assimilation institution. It was founded by US Army officer Richard Henry Pratt in 1879 at a former military installation. It became a model for others established by the US Government through its agency, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

That model was also adopted in Canada-occupied territory by the Canada Government, which also subjected Indigenous Peoples to forced assimilation programs throughout the late 19th century and most of the 20th century.

The objective of cultural genocide was expressed in the words of the founder, Richard Pratt, who said in a speech at a 1892 convention:

“A great general [referring to 19th century US Army General Philip Sheridan] has said that: the only good ‘Indian’ [Indigenous person] is a dead one… In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this, that: All the ‘Indian’ there is in the race should be dead. Kill the ‘Indian’ in him and save the man.
[text of speech]

More Quotes from the “Civilizing” US Christian Authorities

‘Let all that is ‘Indian’ [Indigenous (Native)] within you die! You cannot become truly ‘American’ [US] citizens — industrious, intelligent, cultured, civilized — until the ‘INDIAN’ within you is DEAD.

— Christian Reverend A. J. Lippincott,
speaking to young Indigenous graduates during a Carlisle Indian School graduation
[source:  “Education for Extinction — American Indians and the Boarding School Experience 1875-1928,”,
by David Wallace Adams, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 1995, Page 337]

Savage and civilized cannot live and prosper on the same ground – one of the two must die.”

— Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Henry Price, 1881 [full quote]

US Government Use of Coercion As Means of
Taking Possession of Indigenous Children

And Sending Them to Its Forced Assimilation Institutions
[source 4]

In 1893, mandatory education for Indigenous children (from the age of six) became US Federal Government policy. If parents refused to send their children away, Bureau of Indian Affairs authorities could withhold treaty-obligated annuities or rations (food, clothing, land) and jail offenders.

Young children who were taken from their families and communities to US boarding schools experienced intense loneliness.

By 1900, thousands of Indigenous children were being forcibly assimilated into US Anglo culture at almost 150 US Government-funded boarding schools throughout US-occupied territory of the contiguous United States.

Hundreds of Indigenous boarding schools, both on-reservation and off-reservation, were built and utilized through the early part of the 20th Century. By the 1920s, the US Government turned over many school administrations to institutional Christian religious organizations.

Over 100,000 Indigenous children were forced through the system in US-occupied territory. And about 150,000 Indigenous children were forced through the State of  Canada’s corresponding system in neighboring Canada-occupied territory.

The End Goal of the US Government’s Education Program
(During Period 1879-1978):

The Complete Destruction of Indigenous Culture
(Cultural Genocide)
[sources 1-6]

At the US forced assimilation institutions, the Indigenous children were:

● forced to live in separation from their families and Indigenous communities
● forced to not speak their native languages at all, not even with one another
[upon threat of punishment if caught “speaking Indian”
(speaking any of the Indigenous languages)]
● forced to have their long hair cut short
[long hair, in general Indigenous culture, was considered sacred]
● forced to abandon tribal clothing and wear school uniforms
and clothing of the dominant US Anglo culture of the time
● forced to have their names replaced by English names
● forced to not practice native religious/spiritual traditions,
tribal singing and dancing, or wearing of ceremonial clothes
(forbidden throughout boarding schools and reservations)
[freedom of religion, of religious practice, and of speech/expression
— ‘natural rights’ supposedly protected by the US Bill of Rights —
did not apply to the so-called “savages”]
● forced to receive indoctrination into institutional Christianity
[separation of church and state did not apply
when it came to “civilizing and Christianizing” the “savages”]
● forced to do hard child labor
● forced to endure other forms of psychological,
and sometimes physical, abuse
(and for many children, also sexual abuse)

The end goal of their education was:
the complete destruction of their native culture
‘cultural genocide’),

Forced cultural assimilation of Indigenous children, funded by US Government. Boys pray before bedtime with Father Keyes, 1959. St. Mary’s Mission Boarding School (Roman Catholic Church), Omak, in territory under the jurisdiction of the US state of Washington, northern subcontinent of Western Continent (“North America”)   © Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture,, Eastern Washington State Historical Society, Spokane, Washington

In March 2011, the Roman Catholic Church agreed to pay $166.1 million to about 500 victims (mostly Indigenous persons) who were allegedly abused for decades (mostly sexual abuse) by Roman Catholic priests or by people supervised by the priests,
in Roman Catholic boarding schools in Indigenous tribal lands throughout the northwestern regions of US-occupied territory (mostly Alaska, and including cases at St. Mary’s Mission Boarding School, Omak). (source 15)

.  …#                                     

.                                                           Thousands of Indigenous Children Psychologically Traumatized,
.                                                                                      Carrying Trauma into Adulthood
.                                                                                                      [sources 4, 5]

Many of the children of the forced assimilation institutions were psychologically traumatized by childhood experiences at the institutions. Due to the lack of mental health resources on reservations, many abuse survivors in the 20th century turned to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate.

Childhood-trauma-based dysfunctional behavior often carries on into families and the next generations, resulting in inter-generational trauma.

Sammy Toineeta (Lakota) helped found the Boarding School Healing Project, in US-occupied territory, to document abuses at the US boarding schools.

“Human rights activists must talk about the issue of boarding schools,” says Toineeta. “It is one of the grossest human rights violations because it targeted children and was the tool for perpetrating cultural genocide. To ignore this issue would be to ignore the human rights of indigenous peoples, not only in the US, but around the world.”

200 Years of Cultural Genocide Imposed by the United States
on Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities of US-Occupied Territory

The era of the approximately 200-year (1776-1978) United States policy of cultural genocide against the indigenous peoples within US-occupied territory (including its Indigenous boarding school program in the territory of the 49-state continental United States) came to an official ending with the enactment of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978, and  the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (following the progressive US socio-political changes which resulted from the massive US civil rights and liberation movements of the 1960s).

It was not until 1978 with the passing of the Indian Child Welfare Act that Indigenous Peoples in US-occupied territory of the 49-state continental United States gained the legal right to deny their children’s placement in off-reservation boarding schools.

The 2007 UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

If the US Government’s Indigenous boarding school program (1879-1978) would have existed at the present time, it would have been highly violating the 2007 UN-adopted Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Articles 8 and 14.

UNDRIP Article 8 (1): “Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.”

UNDRIP Article 14 (1): “Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 September 2007 — by a majority of 144 states voting in favor, 11 states abstaining, and 4 states voting against.

The four states that voted against the international Declaration were the states of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. In May 2016, the State of Canada officially removed its objector status to UNDRIP, almost a decade after it was adopted by the UN General Assembly. By 2017, the other three objectors had, to various degrees, also changed their vote.



1. “American Indian Boarding Schools”,
Wikipedia, volunteer-written encyclopedia, article (historical)
2. “American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many”,
NPR News, article (historical), by Charla Bear, 12 May 2008
3. “History and Culture: Boarding Schools”,
American Indian Relief Council, article (historical)
4. “The Horrifying Legacy of Indian Boarding Schools Hasn’t Ended – Here’s What You Need to Know“,
Everyday Feminism, article (historical), by Tate Walker, 11 October 2015
5. “Soul Wound: The Legacy of Native American Schools”,
Amnesty International Magazine, Amnesty International USA, by Andrea Smith, 26 March 2007
6. “Time for Acknowledgment: Christian-Run Native American Boarding Schools Left legacy of Destruction“,
Sojourners, article (historical), by Anna Hall, 12-16-2013
7. “‘Kill the Indian, and Save the Man’: Capt. Richard H. Pratt on the Education of Native Americans”,
excerpt from a paper read by Carlisle founder R. H. Pratt, 1892 convention
8. “Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975”,
Wikipedia, volunteer-written encyclopedia, article (historical)
9. “Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act — 1975”,
American Indian Relief Council, article (historical)
10. “Indian Child Welfare Act”,
Wikipedia, volunteer-written encyclopedia, article (historical)
11. “The Indian Child Welfare Act: A National Law Controlling the Welfare of Indigenous Children”,
American Indian Law Alliance, article, by Tonya Gonnella Frichner, Esq.
12.  “American Indian Religious Freedom Act“,
Wikipedia, volunteer-written encyclopedia, article (historical)
13. “Genocide — A New Term, New Conception for Destruction of Nations”),
“Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation — Analysis of Government
— Proposals for Redress”, Part 1, Chapter 9 (“Genocide”), Section 1,
by Raphael Lemkin (lawyer, invented the term “genocide” in 1943 ), Nov. 1944,
includes Introduction by Prevent Genocide International
(“a global education and action network established in 1998
with the purpose of bringing about the elimination of the crime of genocide”)
14. “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples“,
United Nations Organization, document, 2007
15. “Eight Sue DSHS for Alleged Abuse as Jesuit School“,
The Seattle Times, article (news), by Jennifer Sullivan, 22 November 2011


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