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Stringing Rosaries: The History, the Unforgivable, and the Healing of Northern Plains American Indian Boarding School Survivors


2020 Independent Publishers Awards: Bronze, Multicultural Non-Fiction, Adult; 2020 Independent Press Awards: Distinguished Favorite, Cultural and Social Issues; 2020 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize: Finalist (one of only three); 2019 Foreword Reviews INDIES: History (Adult Nonfiction), Finalist; 2019 Midwest Book Awards: Gold, History—Regional

2019 Midwest Book Awards: Silver; Social Science / Political Science / Culture; 2019 Midwest Book Awards: Silver, Cover Design


With vivid depictions of boarding school experiences told in the voice of survivors, Stringing Rosaries describes the US government’s boarding school policy and concludes with a healing journey taken by Lajimodiere and her father, reliving his own forced boarding school experience. Contains a list of 406 US boarding school locations.


Stringing an essential book for all people of good conscience. It imparts the history of the assimilationist government boarding schools for Indigenous Americans through interviews with sixteen survivors, all from the Northern Plains. As children at the southern border of the United States experience isolation and incarceration, this book adds to literature on the tragic consequences.” —Denise Low, author of Turtle's Beating Heart: One Family's Story of Lenape Survival.


“Stringing Rosaries is a stunning recitation of the experiences of survivors of the boarding schools that were a result of the disastrous and misguided boarding school policy adopted and implemented by the federal government in the early and later 1880s. Lajimodiere lays bare the pain and unresolved trauma of those who were subjected to the schools, and she provides the basis for understanding the source of that trauma from one generation to the next. A must read.” —Donald R. Wharton, Sr. Attorney, Native American Rights Fund


Lajimodiere captures Indian boarding school survivor stories in their own words with sometimes gut-wrenching detail. These courageous voices demonstrate the complexity of survivor experiences, while Lajimodiere's emotional journey as an intergenerational survivor helps contextualize stories of resilience and healing. Stringing Rosaries is an important contribution to the growing body of literature on Indian boarding schools told from Indigenous perspectives.” —Louellyn White (Mohawk), Carlisle Indian Industrail School descendant; author of Free to Be Mohawk: Indigenous Education at the Akwesasne Freedom School; Assoc. Professor of First Peoples Studies, Concordia University, Montreal


“Lajimodiere felt compelled to share the stories because many who attended boarding schools in the first half of the 1900s are now elderly and dying. She's clear that she doesn't want the stories to elicit pity. She wants understanding... 'I want the world to know that part of why we are the way we are,' she said, 'with high alcoholism, high diabetes and a lot of other health issues, one of the overarching reasons is the boarding school era.” —Excerpt from report by Dan Gunderson for Minnesota Public Radio, Arts and Culture, October 3, 2019.  


“Stringing Rosaries is a labor of love. But like most books associated with the Native experience in the U.S. Denise Lajimodiere's history of Indian boarding school survivors is studded with long-hidden painful thorns. Although the survivors interviewed for the book ultimately display a fierce spirit of resilience and even humor, Stringing a difficult read especially for former boarding school students and their families. According to Lajimodiere she offers a 'trigger warning' during her public presentations about her work in researching the book....A child of boarding school survivors, Lajimodiere infuses here work with an element of ceremony and personal healing.” —Excerpt from Indian Country Today, Arts & Entertainment, July 25, 2019, Stringing Rosaries' focuses on Indian boarding schools.


“On 29 May 2021, [the Kamloops Indian Band] issued a press release whereby...the remains of 215 children who were forcibly placed in Kamloops Indian Residential School were uncovered via 'ground penetrating radar.' The violent state murder of indigenous peoples, especially the way systemic abuses were inflicted on indigenous children in boarding schools is a truth that has long been documented. [Stringing Rosaries] predates this 2021 confirmation by two years, highlighting the urgency of such narratives, and the resultant soule wounding she outlines throughout the book.” —Excerpt from Book Review, Institutionalized Children Explorations and Beyond, Vol. 8, Issue 2, pp. 278-280; copyright SAGE, August 29, 2021.

Stringing Rosaries


  • ISBN





    North Dakota State University Press


    Denise K. Lajimodiere (author)

  • # OF PAGES





    None. All Rights Available


    Suzzanne Kelley,

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