Consent of Parents to Send Child Out of State Act
Although colonial colleges and schools persistently sought Native Americans as an additional source of subsidized enrollment and income, Native Americans themselves were often uncooperative.

For example, on June 17, 1744, the commissioners from Maryland and Virginia negotiated a treaty with Indians of the Six Nations at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Indians were invited to send boys to William and Mary College. The next day they declined the offer as follows:

We know that you highly esteem the kind of learning taught in those Colleges, and the Maintenance of our young Men, while with you, would be very expensive to you. We are convinced, that you mean to do us Good by your Proposal; and we thank you heartily. But you, who are wise must know that different Nations have different Conceptions of things and you will therefore not take it amiss, if our Ideas of this kind of Education happen not to be the same as yours. We have had some experience of it. Several of our Young People were formerly brought up at the Colleges of the Northern Provinces; they were instructed in all your Sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad Runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods . . . neither fit for Hunters, Warriors, nor Counsellors, they were totally good for nothing. We are, however, not the less oblig’d by your kind Offer, tho’ we decline accepting it; and, to show our grateful Sense of it, if the Gentlemen of Virginia will send us a Dozen of their Sons, we will take Care of their Education, instruct them in all we know, and make Men of them.

Manuel P. Guerrero, Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978: A Response to the Threat to Indian Culture Caused by Foster and Adoptive Placements of Indian Children, 7 Am. Indian L. Rev. 51, 51-57, 59, 67 n.93, 68-69, 75-76 (1979)(quoting Drake, 1 Biography and History of the Indians of North America 27 (3d ed. 1834)).

From the Native American perspective, separation of children from their parents and extended kin interrupted the great Circle of Life. Public schools disrupted social harmony within the tribes, and interfered with tribal inter-generational systems of home education. This, of course, was considered undesirable by Native-American parents and tribal leaders alike.

Up until 1830, educators generally, if grudgingly, honored the wishes of Native American parents with respect to the educations of Native American children. After the Treaty of New Echota, however, educators started refusing to take “no” for an answer.

As the decades progressed, the situation continued to deteriorate. In 1889, for example, the National Educational Convention in Los Angeles passed three resolutions:

1. Resolved, that the true object of the Indian schools and of Indian management is to accomplish the release of the Indian from the slavery of tribal life and to establish him in the self-supporting freedom of citizenship to take his place in the life of the nation, and that whatever in our present system hinders the attainment of this object should be changed.

2. Resolved, that the public schools of the United States are fundamentally and supremely the Americanizers of all people within our limits and our duty to the Indian requires that all Indian school efforts should be directed toward getting the Indian youth into these schools.

3. Whereas, local prejudice on the part of whites against the Indians in the vicinity of every tribe and reservation is such as to make attendance of the Indian youth in public schools there impracticable, and Whereas, there is no prejudice preventing attendance of Indian youth in public schools from nonreservation schools as are remote from the tribes as possible, and it is hereby suggested that ten more such schools be tentatively established at once, with a distinct understanding that each such school shall carry 300 additional pupils placed out in public schools living in white families where the children shall give service in the home to pay for their keep.[]

Melissa Annis, Note, Indian Education: Bilingual Education—A Legal Right for Native Americans, 10 Am. Indian L. Rev. 333, 333-38, 340 (1982)(quoting the Resolution).

Over time, the alliance between state government officials, local educators, and Indian Agents became increasingly militant. They utilized abduction, physical coercion, starvation, and other means to compel the school attendance of Native-American children.

On March 2, 1895, Congress responded to the escalating human rights abuses by passing a statute, which read as follows:

Consent of parents to send child out of State, etc.

An act making appropriations for current and contingent expenses of the Indian Department and fulfilling treaty stipulations with various Indian tribes for the fiscal year ending June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and ninety-six, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted, etc., * * * That any State or Territory entitled to indemnity school lands or entitled to select lands for educational purposes under existing law may select such lands within the boundaries of any Indian reservation in such State or Territory from the surplus lands thereof, purchased by the United States after allotments have been made to the Indians of such reservation, and prior to the opening of such reservation to settlement.

That hereafter no Indian child shall be sent from any Indian reservation to a school beyond the State or Territory in which said reservation is situated without the voluntary consent of the father or mother of such child if either of them are living, and if neither of them are living without the voluntary consent of the next of kin of such child.

Such consent shall be made before the agent of the reservation, and he shall send to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs his certificate that such consent has been voluntarily given before such child shall be removed from such reservation.

And it shall be unlawful for any Indian agent or other employee of the Government to induce, or seek to induce, by withholding rations or by other improper means, the parents or next of kin of any Indian to consent to the removal of any Indian child beyond the limits of any reservation.

Unfortunately, the statute of 1895 was rarely enforced. (For one exception, see In re Lelah-Puc-Ka-Chee, 98 F. 429 (N.D. Iowa 1899)). Abuses on a massive scale continued for many decades.

Back to:
1) Index of Quaqua Legal and Historical Pages
2) History
3) Legal Resources
4) Quaqua Society Home Page