A New Nation Comes to the Indian Country
The Fur Trade New Settlers Miners Ranchers Missionaries and Teachers


Holy Family Mission School

Agreements with the United States in 1887 and 1895 exchanged tracts of Blackfeet tribal land for payments totaling $3 million. These funds were to be used to purchase cattle and farming equipment, and to support tribal education.

This photograph of students at the Holy Family Mission (founded in 1890) suggests the kind of education the tribe purchased with its fund. Cut off from family and forced to remain year-round at this forbidding school, Blackfeet children participated in a tightly-structured program of academic instruction and personal reprogramming, which included punishment for speaking anything but English. Their Jesuit teachers believed that this rigorous program would conquer the Indians’ “backwardness” and replace it with “civilized” behavior.

William E. Farr. "Holy Family Mission, Blackfeet Reservation," in The Reservation Blackfeet, 1885–1945: A Photographic History of Cultural Survival, 1984.

Click to Enlarge
Newberry Library