So as I was reading “Like a Hurricane” by Smith and Warrior, I read a passage discussing the old Indian education system constructed by the newly settled white Christian people of the US back in the
Reservation Boarding Schools? Well, if this was going on today, the first thought in my mind would be that the school teaches what every other school teaches, but has a high American Indian population. That seems logical enough…right?
Reading into these reservation boarding schools a little bit more, I realized that my thought process was indeed off…..
by a lot.
Thinking we’re the best, us newly settled Americans took one look at the native people and how they live and scowled. They were not good enough to live among us, so we attempted to make them “good” enough.
Reservation boarding schools were ultimately a way of murdering the Indian culture. In the eyes of white Christian Americans, education was the key to assimilation. In these schools, the native students were not allowed to speak their native language- it was prohibited; and they had to stay year round, with the exceptions of Christmas time (a Christian holiday), and summer time. Their logic was that if the Indian children were far away from their families, they would not have the opportunity to practice their languages or their tribal activities and soon enough forget them and convert to the white Christian ways of living.
Many of these boarding schools got out of hand, however. This woman in the video below was enrolled in an Indian boarding school and had quite an abusive experience.
The violence toward the Indian students from the white Christian teachers was brutal. If any student tried to run away, they were severely beaten and in some instances, whipped. But hold on, these schools were based off of Christianity? And they’re beating children? I’m sure Jesus was delighted…
The corrupt system of the reservation boarding schools finally got some opposing attention. White people began speaking out against the schools claiming that they were making the Indian people dependent instead of self-reliant, and the schools attracted some bad attention for their “boarding” idea; many people thought it was cruel, keeping anyone away from their families. However, just because some whites felt sorry for some Indians, doesn’t mean that they were fine and dandy with the continuance of the Indian culture- just the way about assimilation was enforced; the intent was still there and mighty.
Even with all of the efforts from the white Christian community during the education reform and after, the Indian culture never died. These reservation boarding schools put Indian people to the test, and they passed, yet again, with flying colors.