Skip to main content

The holocaust of first nation people: Residual effects on parenting and treatment implications


The residential school experience was devastating for many First Nation (Indian) people. The lingering effects of this era have been far reaching and remain painfully evident throughout Native communities. One of the more obvious areas directly affected has been parenting. This paper discusses current parenting difficulties of Native clients who were formerly in residential schools. A connection is made between the abuse experienced by these individuals and their parental struggles. Along with addressing various sociopolitical issues, a number of clinical interventions designed to promote the healing process of these victims and their families are provided and discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Attneave, C. (1982). American Indians and Alaska Native families: Emigrants in their own homeland. In M. McGoldrick, J. Pearce, & J. Giordano (Eds.),Ethnicity and family therapy (pp. 55–83). New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Black, E. (Ed.) (1993).Secrets in families and family therapy. New York: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bull, L. (1991). Indian residential schooling: The Native perspective.Canadian Journal of Native Education, 18, 3–63.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) asks RCMP to look into possible cases of abuse at Indian residential schools. (1993, April, p. 29).Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Communique.

  5. Ing, N. (1991). The effects of residential schools on Native child-rearing practices.Canadian Journal of Native Education, 18, 67–118.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Laird, J. (1993). Women's secrets—women's silences. In E. Black (Ed.),Secrets in families and family therapy (pp. 243–267). New York: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  7. McDonald, J. (1991, June 2, G1–G3). The schools that failed.Edmonton Journal.

  8. Minuchin, S. (1974).Families and family therapy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Morrissette, P. (1991). The therapeutic dilemma with Canadian Native youth in residential care.Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 8, 89–99.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Tafoya, T. (1989). Circles and cedar: Native Americans and family therapy. In G. Saba, B. Karrer, & K. Hardy (Eds.),Minorities and family therapy (pp. 71–94). New York: Haworth Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Morrissette, P.J. The holocaust of first nation people: Residual effects on parenting and treatment implications. Contemp Fam Ther 16, 381–392 (1994).

Download citation

Key Words

  • cultural sensitivity
  • family therapy
  • First Nation (Indian) people
  • political action