The ethnocentrism of the colonists meant that due to their belief in their own superior culture, half of all children at the time were taken to boarding schools and half of those children did not come out
The purpose of residential schools enforced from 1920 to 1996 under the Indian act was to “kill the Indian in the child” (Hanson, 2006). The system was brought into North American by Europeans and Catholics and was majorly run by nuns. The Europeans believed that aboriginal people needed to become more civilized, influencing them with their culture. This is when Nicholas Flood Davin, who was studying industrial school systems in the United states at the time recommended that Canadian aboriginal children needed to be taught through “aggressive civilization” (Hanson, 2006). Davin believed that to take the Indian out of the child it had to
Indian Boarding Schools, which began in the late 1870’s, were started to transition Native Americans from their traditional cultures and transform them into American citizens. By the 1900’s, there were 147 day schools on and off reservations in the Great Plains. Day schools were first built before the government decided that the children needed to be removed from their Indian lifestyle in order for total assimilation to occur. The first off-reservation boarding schools appeared around 1884 in the Great Plains. By 1890, 25 federal off-reservation and 43 on-reservation boarding schools were operating nationally. Many Indian families chose to send their children to boarding schools because there were no other schools available. After $45 million had been spent and 20,000 Indian children had been put into schools, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs William Jones put emphasis on the importance of utilizing existing boarding and day schools more effectively. Jones declared that the Indian children had shown little evidence of assimilation and introduced the idea for a hierarchy of schools in order to “provide the greatest opportunity for assimilating the best students with the greatest potential for surviving in the white world” (Encyclopedia of the Great Plains, par.8).
This was a very important report because prior to it, Native American children were being sent to boarding schools were their heritage was frowned upon. “Recommendations included building day schools in Native American communities and the reform of boarding schools for Native American children.” (Parkay, F. 2001) This report was considered a landmark one because of the issues it highlighted of the educational issues plaguing the Native American community at the
The Indian Residential Schools were boarding schools that forced students to leave their families and homes in order to go and continue their education elsewhere. They were formulated with the partnership of the United Churches along with the Government. (Laing,2013:53). The Government and the Churches put these schools in place in order to separate the children from their family and cultural customs and values. The goal was to isolate the children from what they are used to in order to “kill the Indian in the child” and have them pick up the new Euro- Canadian culture and values along with the English Language. In addition to being taken away from their families, the
Vance (1995) stated, “For nearly 500 years there has been a very oppressive, dishonest and manipulative message being voiced by the dominant white Angelo culture towards Native Americans, This has caused a great distrust, anger and conflicting attitudes for the Native American community” (p.1).
Our Spirits Don’t Speak English provides insight into Indian boarding schools in the United States. Children of Indian tribes were mandated by the U.S. government to attend boarding schools. The purpose of these schools were to educate Indians in Western ways and language; thus, making these children “civilized.” From a trauma lens, children of these boarding schools could be viewed as victims. Indian children were forcibly removed from their homes and stripped of their Native American identity. Upon arrival, Indian children were forced to cut their hair in the Western fashion and were only allowed to wear European-style clothing.
Boarding schools were an issue that plagued both Native Americans and Inupiats. As conveyed by the writings of Mary Crow Dog and other Native American figures, we see how the effects of such schools were devastating to the native population. Boarding schools wiped Natives of their language and culture, teaching young children to be ashamed of what makes them unique. Pupils would return from their long stays at boarding schools, unable to speak to their own family, resulting in an isolation between themselves and their community. Over the years, generations would eventually lose most of what makes them native and, for the most part, their culture slowly faded away. It seems that the Inupiat people faced a similar fate. Inupiat children were forced to learn by Western standards, eventually forgetting their crucial survival skills, language, religion and other unique aspects of their culture. However, we are exposed to a more positive outlook towards boarding schools in the book, Fifty Miles from Tomorrow, where William Hensley says he enjoyed his boarding school
The act also funded boarding schools that designed to replace Native American culture with American culture within the school system. Family and cultural ties almost diminished because of the boarding schools. Children were even punished for speaking their native tongue or practicing anything dealing with Native American rituals
Each boarding school had a set of tight rules designed to assimilate the children in such a way that they forgot or rejected their native culture. The children were forced to leave behind their original religion and properly observe the Sabbath every Sunday (“Rules” 53). They were strictly forbidden in speaking in their native dialect and were not allowed to keep their native dress but had to adopt a uniform style of clothing (Stone). Also the children were taught to enjoy the games of the young white children rather than being able to play the games of their childhood (“Rules” 54). These policies assimilated the children of the First Nations by giving them a new Americanized way of thought based on a Christian Anglo-Saxon view of the world and bestowing upon them an Americanized outward appearance by teaching them to play, act, and dress like white American children.
The forced assimilation of the Native American children gave way for the Indian School to be historical significant. In the Phoenix Indian School, the Native American children changed dramatically. Originally, the Native American children were taught a culture that had been described of being extremely undomesticated. For example, the children of Native Americans were taught to hunt at a certain age and were dressed with tremendous about of skin visible to those around them. The children of Native Americans went from being barbarous to
“America remembers what it did to its Black slaves and is sorry. America remembers what happened to the Jews in Europe and says "never again." America refuses to remember what it has done to Native people, it wants to forget the lies and the slaughter.” (“Reservation Boarding Schools”). From 1878- 1978, Native American children were taken from their families and homes to boarding schools that stripped them of everything they were raised to believe. Schools today do not teach much on the topic of Native American boarding schools, so students either know nothing about them or very little.
Charles Eastman is an inspirational American Indian that accomplished more than he ever thought possible. Charles was born a Santee Sioux and lived out the Santee Sioux lifestyle until he was 15. He has written thirteen books that describe his live and the experiences he went through. The period that Charles grew up in was a transition period for the American Indians. Children were taken from their families, American Indian men were hung, and most American Indians were stripped of their native beliefs and forced to follow the “white man’s way”. These were not pleasant times, to say the least, but Charles Eastman persevered though family, education, and self-determination.
In Canada, “more than 150,000 children attended 132 residential schools.” According to Maura Hanrahan, “Between the mid-1800s and the 1970s, up to one-third of all Indigenous children in Canada spent part or most of their childhoods in residential schools. By 1930, almost 75% of all ‘Indian’ children in Canada, aged seven to fifteen, were in residential schools” . The high attendance rate was due to the fact that it became mandatory to send your children between the ages of seven and fifteen and this was strictly enforced by the Indian Agents and the RCMP. In The Fallen Feather Dr. Mary Thomas speaks of her removal from her home. “I was six and a half, my sister was a year older than me. Just out of the blue they picked us up and took us to residential school in Kamloops. And I can remember my mother would get us all dressed up and ready to go back to school, what a horrible day. We would be all crying we don’t want to go back, don’t want to go back”. As one can imagine, this experience was traumatic for both the
Children were taken away from their homes and told everything they knew was wrong. They were sent to boarding schools to change their culture. These boarding schools were run by the United States government. The government's goal was to civilize Native Americans. They sent children to these schools against their will. Native American children were educated like Americans and they had to change their native ways to be more like whites (Cayton 266). Teachers abused their students and beat their native ways out of them. They were not allowed to see their families so they would try to escape, but their attempts were unsuccessful. The United States government’s Boarding Schools of the mid-late 1800s irreparably changed Native American culture.