Between 1951 and 1984, thousands of Diné (Navajo) students attended the Intermountain Indian School located along the Wasatch Mountains in Brigham City, Utah. In its final decade, “Intermountain,” as the school was known, opened its doors to young Native American students from tribal nations across the United States. Often hundreds of miles from home and family, the students of “Intermountain” were encouraged by teachers and advisors to express themselves through art and literature.
While the established narrative of Native American boarding schools has been one of cultural genocide, Returning Home seeks to present a fuller picture of the school experience by showcasing and celebrating some of the creative works of “Intermountain” students. Like other Indian boarding schools, “Intermountain” students faced daunting problems and challenges such as abuse, homesickness, and racism. In addition, students engaged in dynamic current events including national and global politics, the moon landing, civil rights, the American Indian Movement, and the Vietnam War.
Through their artistic endeavors, “Intermountain” students created insightful narratives of home(land) and their experiences at school as they sought to establish their own complex identities in an ever-changing world. For more information on Intermountain Indian School as well as access to the additional examples of student creative expressions, click on the School’s link.
Returning Home will later travel to other venues including the Navajo Museum in Window Rock, Arizona. This project was made possible through the support of the Charles Redd Center for Western American Studies, the Utah Humanities, the Southwest Oral History Association, Northeastern State University Research Committee, and a College of Humanities Mentoring Experience Grant. Additional support was provided by the Navajo Nation Heritage and Historical Preservation Department, Utah State University, the Oljato Chapter of the Navajo Nation, and “Intermountain” alumni.