Western Heritage Center Student Contest

“Assimilation through Education”


To view the 2024 online exhibit of submitted projects, please click here.


What is the Student Contest?

The contest’s theme, “Assimilation through Education,” invites students to discuss the history and impacts of American Indian Boarding Schools. Students will do their own research on a topic that interests them about American Indian Boarding Schools history—nationally, statewide, or personally.


Individual students, pairs, or classes will get to choose the medium. Accepted formats include papers, websites, pieces of art, films, poems, or songs (exceptions can be made upon contact).


Who can participate?

There will be two separate divisions for this contest.

Division 1: 4th-7th graders

Division 2: 8th-12th graders


Students must be from Yellowstone County or Bighorn County.


Contest Information

Projects are due April 26, 2024. First place winners of each division will receive $150, and second place winners will receive $75. Submissions will be scored by an anonymous panel of judges. All participants in the contest will receive a complimentary family membership to the Western Heritage Center.


Projects will be judged on whether they demonstrate:

  • Historical Understanding
  • Composition
  • Creativity
  • Strong Connection to the Theme

A panel of judges will make the final selection of division winners. Winners will be announced the week of May 6, 2024.

Selected projects will be displayed in the in-person exhibit and a separate Western Heritage Center online exhibit.


How to get started?

We encourage students to visit the exhibit: Away from Home: Stories from Indian Boarding Schools at the Western Heritage Center for inspiration. Exhibit opens April 9, 2024, and closes May 25, 2024. It is free to the public for the duration.

Guiding questions to consider

  1. What role did the government play in Indian Boarding Schools?
  2. What was the experience like for Native students who attended these schools?
  3. What were the living conditions and expectations like for Native students?
  4. What were the impacts of schools at the time? What is the significance and impact today?



Projects will be submitted digitally through Google Forms.

(Exceptions can be made upon contact).


In addition to the project, students will write a simple project statement of no more than 500 words. This statement should explain the research, the project, and any personal connection to the student(s).

Submissions Closed


Contact Information

For any questions please contact lauren@ywhc.org

Crow Students at School. Image courtesy the Smithsonian Institution