The significance of the creation of the Indian Boarding School System was somewhat negative. One major long term goal the U.S. seeked was complete assimilation. Many people believed if the Native Americans tossed aside their language, beliefs, and customs they could learn to be, “Civilised.” An immediate goal was simply educating the native children. This would be the first goal overall. The impact was felt locally, regionally, and nationally because their culture and language was suppressed and changed.Background InformationThe need for Indian Boarding Schools arose in the post Civil War era. With a proper and developed system, reformers believed Indians could become just like them. They did not like associating with the savage brutes they called the Indians and wanted to alter their entire counterculture and means of living. White americans depicted them to be uncivilised. That is why the main reasoning for the creation of the Indian Boarding School System was assimilation. Education would be used as a tactic to assimilate native americans into the mainstream of american culture.Promised educational support was negotiated with the Indians of the Pacific West dating all the way back to the 1850’s. The Medicine Creek Treaty of December 26th 1854 promised an agricultural and industrial school that would, “Be free to the children of said tribes for a period of 20 years.” The U.S. federal government would be funding all expenses of the school. There were 48 day schools near the reservations by the 1860’s which was a tremendous accomplishment. Another effort seen would be the opening of small mission schools like Priest’s point near the Tulalip reservation.
Reverend E.C. Chirouse opened a school in 1857 with a total of eleven students. These are both examples of brief and immediate goals accomplished. Children were being educated which was America’s first step in assimilating the Native Americans.The idea behind day schools was students would take home what they were taught and civilise their parents. The efforts for the schools made no progress. Children still went home to tribal living surrounded by all their traditional customs and native language. Everything they learned was of no use. The need for a more severe approach was needed so thus the birth of major Indian Boarding Schools. One of the first efforts made for America’s long term goal into complete assimilation was the founding of the Carlisle Indian School located in Pennsylvania. It was founded by a man of the name Captain Richard Henry Pratt in 1879 who strongly believed in ,”Killing the indian and saving the man.” He took 60 boys and 24 girls to Carlisle Pennsylvania which was 1,500 miles away from their homeland. The long distance would make it easier to wipe out the native customs and traditions. The Carlisle school used to be home to an american military base during the civil war. The same buildings used by the soldiers were used for the industrial school. A general layout of the school’s foundation can be seen in source 4. It was close to a railroad so the transportation of children was made easier and it also meant they would travel further away from their homes. The school followed a strict military inspired schedule. Children would typically spend half the day in a classroom taking courses like U.S History, geography, arithmetic, reading, writing, and spelling. The other half of the day was spent learning trades and other work assignments.
Young girls or women acquired skills like doing laundry, sewing, cooking, or cleaning whereas young boys or men acquired skills in carpentry, animal husbandry, or blacksmithing. A picture of these young men learning trades can be seen in source 9. A local on reservation boarding school called Truxton Canyon began a similar assimilation process like Carlisle, “Providing an elementary education and industrial training to the sixth or eighth grade level.” If they successfully grasped the curriculum they transferred over to much intense boarding schools like Carlisle.By 1892 there were 25 major indian boarding schools implicated after Carlisle. They followed the same military style discipline regime. They were located in regions near indian reservations. The health and living conditions across these schools weren’t always ideal. Children were usually exposed to running water and electricity which meant clean clothes and maintained personal hygiene. They usually learned how to brush their teeth and wash their faces. However, illness did become a serious problem due to such crowded spaces. Diseases like influenza, measles, and tuberculosis caused great worry among the staff and students residing in these boarding schools. They were easily spread and death was a common result. At the Chemawa boarding school, 189 tombstones were recorded in the cemetery. National, Regional, and Local ImpactThe general impact of Boarding Schools upon all Native Americans nationally, regionally, and locally was somewhat negative. Native American culture was being suppressed and discouraged.
An example of this can be seen when in 1893 it became mandatory for children to receive an education. The students weren’t only affected by this law, but the parents were as well. Federal authorities had the right to, “Withhold annuities or rations or send them to jail,” if parents refused to comply. It is inhumane to force a parent to choose between eating or sending their child away for an uncertain amount of time. These laws were used as loopholes by the American Government to achieve their unjustly plans. They abused their power by creating these regulations. Another negative impact felt nationally was the destruction and corruption of tribal heritage. No matter what school you went to, across the entire country, your appearance was immediately
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