“Nothing Servile”: Exploring Cultural Preservation and Native Resistance at the Santee Normal Training School

Presentation author(s)

Morgan Lippert ’21, Williams Bay, Wisconsin

Major: History
Minor: Museum Studies


Following the Civil War, the United States government sought to assimilate Native American children through the use of boarding schools. There, all remainders of former tribal life were to be erased, beginning with Native languages. One school, however, did not comply with this federally-mandated cultural erasure. Founded in 1870 by Rev. Alfred Riggs, the Santee Normal Training School decided instead not only to teach its Dakota pupils in their native language but also to publish literature in the Dakota vernacular.

Conducted over two months at the Newberry Library in Chicago this past fall, my research complicates existing notions of the Native American boarding school experience. It was also during this time that, after weeks of poring over newspapers and correspondence, I discovered that the Santee Normal Training School has fascinating connections to Beloit College.

I encourage history and library lovers alike to attend this symposium presentation. Through exploring the remarkable history of the Santee Normal Training School, I will tell a story of resistance and preservation, a story that has once again found its way back to Beloit College.


Katherine Johnston

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