The books showed that despite the school’s attempt to “civilize” its students, it still failed to destroy the native children’s tribal identities. Yet it also managed to win many pupils to appreciate the English language and other academic skills. It was a “successful failure” as Traftzer et al. put it because the children managed to keep their identities as native Indians despite the school’s oppressive policy to assimilate them yet they also learned the academics taught without “losing themselves (29).
The book illustrated how culturally destructive boarding schools are to the natives and how it fosters elitism among them but it also highlighted the effort of the students to retain their sense of Indian identity that includes their native language that often necessitates resisting the discipline of which boarding schools impose. It showed the resolve of the students at boarding school to retain an identity that was purposely eroded through a policy of assimilation.