"Nothing Servile"

Native Resistance at the Santee Normal Training School

“Nothing Servile”: Native Resistance at the Santee Normal Training School tells the story of how one reverend’s advocacy for the Dakota language created an environment for Native American students to resist assimilation and preserve aspects of their cultures. 


This exhibit encourages viewers to reflect on the dark part of the United States’ past that was the Native American boarding school system--in doing so, questioning Santee’s connections to Beloit College.

Content Warning:

It should be noted that this exhibition references experiences of Native students who attended boarding schools, experiences that may trigger and cause trauma.

Students at the Santee Normal Training School, circa 1912-1938. Student names unknown.

Credit: Columbia University Libraries

Often hung from saddles, parfleche rawhide bags such as this were used by Plains Indian tribes such as the Santee Sioux Nation to hold tools and food. It was donated to the Logan Museum by the Riggs family.

Credit: The Logan Museum of Anthropology, Albert Heath Collection, 1500.

A Note on Tribe Names


The Santee Sioux Nation—composed of the Sisseton, Wahpeton, Wahpekute, and Mdewakanton peoples—is a federally recognized American Indian tribal nation. Sometimes referred to as the Eastern Dakota, the Santee originated from the central Mississippi River Valley, later migrating to what is today Minnesota. After the Dakota War of 1862, they were expelled by the federal government, and many fled to present day Knox County, Nebraska--the current site of the Santee Reservation. 


The Santee join the Yankton and Yanktonai tribes of the Western Dakota and the seven tribes of the Lakota--Sičháŋǧu, Oglála, Itázipčho, Húŋkpapȟa, Sihásapa, and Mnikȟówožu--to make up the Great Sioux Nation, or Oceti Sakowin. While the Santee Normal Training School was established for the Santee Reservation, those enrolled were not exclusively Santee. The boarding school took in Dakota students from all reservations, as well as those from Siouian tribes that spoke similar dialects.


Unless their respective tribe is known, the pupils of the school will be collectively referred to as “Dakota.”

Background Image: List of Santee Normal Training School students in 1901

Credit: Newberry Library