About the Author
Esther Burnett Horne
Esther Burnett Horne was an educator and advocate for American Indian people. She was a member of the Wind River Shosone Tribe. She graduated from Haskell Institute in 1929 and took numerous classes at colleges in the U.S. She taught in the Bureau of Indian Affairs educational system, in boarding schools in Oklahoma and the Wahpeton Indian School in North Dakota. She received numerous honors including Master Teacher for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Distinguished Service Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior.
In 1965, she “retired” to Naytahwaush. For the next 25 years, she served northwest Minnesota as advisor, mentor, teacher and cultural bridge-builder by reaching out to the region’s schools, churches and tribal organizations concerned with the education of American Indian children. In 1985, she was named Naytahwaush’s Senior Citizen of the Year and in 1989, the Minnesota Indian Education Association named her Outsanding American Indian Elder.
This is the story of Esther Burnett Horne, an accomplished and inspiring educator in Indian boarding schools. Her experiences as student and teacher enable her to provide a detailed portrait of Indian boarding schools. In Essie’s Story the reader finds an individual perspective on the complex meaning of boarding school education for Indian people’s lives and cultural
We learn about the daily life at Haskell Indian Institute in Lawrence, Kansas, and about the challenges and rewards of teaching for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at Wahpeton, North Dakota. Horne’s life story illustrates that boarding school experiences, both positive and negative, became fundamental components of twentieth-century Indian people’s identities, as individuals and as communities. Above all, Horne’s life illuminates the ongoing struggle by Native teachers and students to retain their cultural identities within a government educational system designed to assimilate them.
Esther Horne and Sally McBeth developed this life history as a colla-boration. McBeth carefully documents both Horne’s personal history and the creation of this work. What emerges is an invaluable life account from a cherished elder.
American Anthropological Association
Organization of American Historians
Northwest Minnesota Foundation – Women’s Hall of Fame