Educational Faux Pas
In the essay “Assimilation through Education: Indian Boarding schools in the Pacific Northwest”, By Carolyn Mar, she discusses the transitions the Native American tribes had to make in order to conform to the American way of living and thinking during the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. Families of various tribes were forced to send their children to two kinds of schools. Parents were told that they would receive no money for food and could go to jail if they did not send their children to government run schools. The children were given an American education to assimilate Indians into American culture.In the process, families were broken and separted; their Indian cultures, traditions and language were lost. Over time, the government schools proved vastly and were phased out because of expense and other major problems (323-28). Assimilating American Indian children to the American way of life by educating them in Indian Schools from the 1880’s to the 1920’s was an educational faux pas.
Federally funded boarding schools were a critical component in the Native American population’s loss of identity through the years. Assimilating Native American children by removing them from their homes; removing them from their families, their language and also their culture stripped Native Americans of their identity. While the United States government believed that forcing Native American children to attend boarding schools was the best option to merge them with a white society that was not ready to receive them. Often children were abandoned by family member s with financial limitation.Children left the boarding schools only to feel that they did not fit into the mold of a white society nor did they feel they belonged within the confines of the culture in which they had been taken died along in distant places, all in the name of the misguided and destructive policy of assimilation, which some have termed ‘cultural genocide”” (Burich1).
Furthermore, the way the government went about educating the Indians was more harmful than helpful. The education resulted in loss of Indian culture. “The federal government intended for schools to immerse the children in non-Indian culture so they would forget their backward, heathen and savage tribal family traditions” (Marjane1). However, children were forced to speak, write, and read in English even though they were not as book smart as the white children which lead to discrimination and racism. During the process of education discipline in boarding school were serve with pushisments (Boarding Schools, United States and Canada 97). Then they were confused with military like schooled and emphasized farming and other manual skills. Since boarding schools were so strict they left tragic legacies, resulting in sexual abuse, alcohol and drug dependence, and distrust of education. Children committed suicide because they had no sign of hope. Other lives were threatened by illness that were spread throughout the schools. Indian children were constantly sick from sick from the expansion disease because of the fact that there was so many children that suffered from trachoma and tuberculosis (Marjane 1). Native American children in boarding schools were also malnourished because of punishments. As a result, the Bureau of Indian Affairs stopped supporting these government forms of education in the 1920’s.
Finally, the government paid assimilation of Indians proved to be costly. The government found it was better educating the Indians than taking away their lands and killing many in the process but it cost too much. It was a better investment to educate the Indians. Also reforming them made them productive such as trying to make them Christians; and stealing their natural identity. All schools were ran by the government. The amount of $1,200. was the cost of one Indian student per years in boarding school. The government was money hungry and thought money was more important than giving children a fair education. So a decision that was made half days of work and half days of schooling. The parent’s reactions to this change made it easier for them; they did not have to pay out so much money for their children attending day school. Today Indian have choices. They can attend schools on reservation or attend private or public schools so they are being treated fairly.