Although the gun battles waged over indigenous land may have ceased by the late nineteenth century, a more insidious battle continued – a battle for a prize every bit as precious and crucial to indigenous survival, a battle for the children.
In the late nineteenth century, the United States government developed a new strategy for dealing with American Indian people. Instead of isolating them on reservations and battling those who refused to comply, now the government established a system of boarding schools for Indian children. At nearly the same time, Australian state governments embarked on a similar policy for Aboriginal children. Officials and reformers in both countries touted their efforts as compassionate policies designed to give these children greater opportunities, but they often resorted to brutal methods to remove indigenous children from their families. This lecture examines the origins, consequences, and legacies of Indigenous child removal in these two nations.