"Thousands of Native American children attended U.S. boarding schools designed to “civilize the savage.” Many died. Many who lived are reclaiming their identity."
"DURANGO, Colo. — The last day Dzabahe remembers praying in the way of her ancestors was on the morning in the 1950s when she was taken to the boarding school.
At first light, she grabbed a small pouch and ran out into the desert to a spot facing the rising sun to sprinkle the taa dih’deen — or corn pollen — to the four directions, offering honor for the new day.
Within hours of arriving at the school, she was told not to speak her own Navajo language. The leather skirt her mother had sewn for her and the beaded moccasins were taken away and bundled in plastic, like garbage.
She was given a dress to wear and her long hair was cut — something that is taboo in Navajo culture. Before she was sent to the dormitory, one more thing was taken: her name."
Rukmini Callimachi reports for the New York Times with photographs by Sharon Chischilly July 19, 2021.