Physical Health Following Exposure to American Indian Boarding Schools

When and Where

Friday, April 08, 2022 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm


Rachel Wilbur


"Physical Health Following Exposure to American Indian Boarding Schools: Personal and Intergenerational Impacts"

Rachel Wilbur is descendant Tolowa and Chetco and a 6th year doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on the impact of historical trauma on contemporary American Indian and Alaska Native health. Her dissertation examines the impact of intergenerational boarding school attendance on health within an urban American Indian population, identifies pathways through which transmission of the historical trauma response may occur, and highlights avenues for healing based in cultural revitalization.


The U.S. American Indian boarding school era of the 1870s to the 1930s resulted in generations of children being removed from their families and communities with devastating impacts on American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) people. I use data from the Honor Project, a health survey of urban, two-spirit AIAN (n=447) to examine the impact of boarding schools on individual health outcomes and the pathways through which traumas may transmit intergenerationally, demonstrating that the type and magnitude of exposure to boarding schools appears to differentially impact physical health. I also aim to elucidate strategies for interrupting the health impacts of historical trauma.

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Department of Anthropology, Centre for Indigenous Studies, Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health