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Indian Boarding Schools: Tools of Forced Assimilations
Transcript of Indian Boarding Schools: Tools of Forced Assimilations
When Europeans came in contact with the North American continent, all Indian nations practiced the powers of sovereigns by forming treaties, trade agreements, and military alliances with other Indian nations.
After British colonial settlement, many sovereign Indian nations negotiated similar agreements with new partners
By signing the treaties, the colonists and the Indian nations recognized each other's independence
Colonial and British governmental actions, indicated that they did not fully accept Indian liberation.
Four types of policies of which began to diminish the sovereignty of Indian nations:
The colonists initially bartered for Indian lands to make the region more profitable, however, the Indians refused to sell. Colonists then resorted to dispossessing Indians, meaning they claimed and moved onto Indian land and refused to move.
The colonists thought that since they could make the land more profitable the Indians had to remove themselves from their ancestral lands and relocate beyond the boundaries of colonial settlement. The colonists threatened to forcefully remove the Indians from their land if need be.
Colonists preferred that Indian people remove themselves from their settlements with some exceptions; they were willing to accept some Indians within the colonies if they integrate into their society by accepting Christianity and British culture and traditions.
This policy is self explanatory; If the Indians refused to move, assimilate, or accept colonial guidelines, colonists had the right to wage a "just war" and eliminate the Indians.
Evolution of Boarding Schools
The federal government established two other types of schools: the reservation boarding school and day schools. Reservation boarding schools had two advantages; being closer to Indian communities and lower transportation costs.
School administrators worked constantly to keep the students at school and diminish tribal cultures. Day schools, the most economical, only provided a minimal education. They worked with the boarding schools by transferring students for more advanced studies.
Territories in North America in 1700
Start of Boarding Schools
After all of this, the heartbreak and turmoil continued with boarding schools. They were started because reformers believed that education and treatment would help make Indians more like other citizens.
The first boarding school was the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. It was founded by Henry Pratt in 1879. Pratt was the leading influence in the boarding schools and education policy.
Henry Pratt felt that Indians were inferior to whites in every way and applied the principle "kill the Indian and save the man."
Indian boys and girls were forced to transform and follow the rules and traditions enforced at the boarding schools. Children lived at the boarding schools for 9 months, and families were only allowed to visit at prescribed times.
On the reservations missionaries ran schools that combined education with religious training.
The Tulalip Mission School became the first contract Indian school, an arrangement that the government provided annual funds to maintain the schools and supplies.
They started small but soon grew to several hundred students.
Conclusion and Thoughts
These boarding schools represented the Southwest to me because it was all about the people.
It was a shame that Americans felt they had the right to change the Indian culture and take children away from their families.
The Indian culture stills suffers from what the Americans enforced, and with everything that was taken away from them. What Americans don't realize is that the Indians set our cultures and traditions, they influenced farming and crops among other key elements that kept us alive.
The national system of Indian education included both off reservation boarding schools, reservation boarding schools and day schools.
In the Pacific Northwest, Chemawa Indian School became the largest off reservation boarding school and had students from throughout the region and Alaska.
Chemawa had originally been located in Forest Grove, Oregon but was moved to Salem in 1885. Officials determined that the original school lacked adequate land for farming. By 1920 Chemawa enrolled 903 students from 90 different tribes with nearly a third coming from Alaska.
In the end...
Boarding schools and day schools were unsuccessful at destroying Indian culture. Sadly the federal government and the schools did succeed in undercutting the cultural foundations of several generations of Indian people. Government-run boarding schools and day schools are now a thing of the past and Indian tribes have done everything they can to undo the damage done to their cultures by the government and schools. Tribes have been able to do this largely because of the 1972 Indian Education Act that acknowledged tribe's control over their educational systems.
All girls school in Fort Spokane
Wood chopping crew - Tulalip Indian School, 1912.
1. The American Indian Civics Project. (2011). Narrative historical overview. Retrieved from http://americanindiantah.com/history/nar_colonial_legacy.html
2. Marr, C. (2011). Assimilation through education: Indian boarding schools in the pacific northwest. Retrieved from http://content.lib.washington.edu/aipnw/marr.html