Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

George McJimsey


Contrary to popular white opinion of the nineteenth century, the Lakota, and other, native peoples, had a strong and effective culture. Their culture included a well developed system for educating their children and passing on essential knowledge and skills long before contact with whites. By the nineteenth century, white perceptions of the Indians, as possessing an inferior and primitive culture, led to a push for the assimilation of Indian populations into the dominant white culture;The institution seized upon to effect assimilation was the white, or European, style school. The government relied on religious organizations to run these Indian schools throughout much of the nineteenth century. Under the government policy of contracting with religious groups to run the Indian schools, the Catholic Church operated a number of reservation day and boarding schools. One such school was the St. Francis Mission School on Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. The Jesuit priests who established the school in 1886 worked hard to construct the needed facilities and make the school a success. While relying on the federal government for funds to operate the schools, the staff often found government policy, and changes in that policy, to be a source of great frustration;Over the years the staff at St. Francis and the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, found ways to adjust to federal policy and keep the school running. The school faced a serious challenge at the turn of the century, however, when the government ceased all contracting with religious organizations for the education of Indian children. After a hard-fought battle in the courts, and with Protestant reformers, the Catholics managed to obtain an alternate source of funding to help sustain St. Francis;This paper traces the events leading to the establishment of St. Francis Mission School and the manner in which federal policy impacted the school. Starting with a brief examination of Lakota education prior to white contact, the paper ends as the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions secures legal access to the Indian trust funds in order to finance St. Francis through much of the twentieth century.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Karla Lee Ekquist



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

235 pages