Sherman Institute, Riverside, CA

Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, Native American youth were removed from their reservation homes and forced to attend off-reservation boarding schools where they were forbidden to practice their traditions and religions, or to speak their languages. Sherman Institute in Riverside, California, was one of the last such schools to be founded. Silent film footage from Viewing Sherman Institute for Indians at Riverside, CA (Mack Sennett/Keystone, 1915) publicizes federal efforts to assimilate Native youth and train them for lives of menial labor. It is paired here with Paiute music from The Salt Song Trail (The Cultural Conservancy/Salt Song Trail Project), performed in 2004 at the Sherman cemetery for ceremonial purposes, to aid in community healing and to assist with the transition to the next world. Those gathered sing for the Indian children who never returned home.