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Native American Asylum: Middlebury Professor to Talk on Institutionalization

(Posted February 17, 2014)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Susan Burch, associate professor of American studies at Middlebury College, in Middlebury, Vt., will give a talk at Juniata College on "Institutionalized Racism: Removals, Dislocations, and the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians," at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20 in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public. In addition to her lecture, Burch will visit various Juniata classes in history, communication, politics and peace and conflict studies Feb. 20 and 21.

Burch's talk will focus on Native Americans who were forcibly removed or dislocated from their families to be placed in Canton Asylum, a federal psychiatric hospital for American Indians, located in Canton, S.D.

Burch's talk will focus on Native Americans who were forcibly removed or dislocated from their families to be placed in Canton Asylum, a federal psychiatric hospital for American Indians, located in Canton, S.D.

She will give the history of the facility, which began in 1902, when the hospital's first forced occupant arrived. By the time numerous scandals closed the asylum in 1934, nearly 400 men, women and children were institutionalized there. The inmates were from 17 states and almost 50 different tribes.

Burch joined the faculty at Middlebury in 2009 and also is the director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Middlebury. Previously, she taught at Ohio State University from 2007-2008 and at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland in 2007

She taught at Gallaudet University from 1995 to 2006, earning the rank of associate professor in 2004. She also spent a year at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2004.

She also served as a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution from 2007-2009 and was lead curator for the exhibition "Every Body: A History of Disability in America" at the National Museum of American History.

Burch earned a bachelor's degree in history in from Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo., and went on to earn a master's degree in history from Georgetown University. She earned a doctorate in American and Soviet history from Georgetown University.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.