When students in history classes learn about the United States stance on the Native Americans in the 1800’s they are only taught about how president Andrew Jackson thought it was necessary that the native Americans of the United States all be put on reservations to make room for “the American people”. That’s all that is normally covered; nothing more. In the article Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality. Chapter 2: Native Americans: Deculturalization written by Joel Spring, Spring talks about how the Native Americans in the United States were not only mistreated in the sense of where they could and could not live, but in their loss of self and a decent education too. In chapter two, the reader receives a better understanding of just how stripped the Native Americans were of everything they had come to know. This included but is not limited to loss of language, customs and dress. “Replacing the use of native language with English, Destroying Indian Customs, teaching allegiance to the U.S Government became major educational policies”. (Spring 32). By doing this, the U.S Federal Government felt that they were building a strong allegiance. This was all because the U.S Federal Government thought that the five main Native American tribes needed to become less savage and more civilized like “the white man”.
Spring explains to the reader that this endeavor was led by Thomas McKenny. McKenney was the first head of the office of Indian Affairs; which targeted the five civilized tribes for the process of deculturalization. He believed that education was key to social control and Improvement of society. McKenney played a big role in the passing of the Civilization Fund Act which was passed in 1819 by Congress to provide money for the support of schools among Indian tribes. McKenney saw the introduction of schools into Indian tribes as an “experiment” to see if schools could “civilize” them. The intent of schooling for Native Americans opposed to bring about a cultural transformation and in other words to “culturally assimilate” and whiten the population. McKenny’s idea led for a majority of Native American youth to be extracted from their homes and placed in boarding schools to become “less savage”. The most famous of these schools being the Carlisle Indian School which was founded in 1879 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Carlisle was primarily an industrial school where children were sent to develop a proper work ethic as well as “to civilize the Indian, get him into civilization. To keep him civilized, let him stay [that way].” (Spring 33). This was instilled in these children so that upon leaving Carlisle, they would have a newly joined allegiance to the United States and her government; something that people like McKenny thought they lacked.
For this particular assignment, my group and I decided to focus on the educational aspect and the aftermath of this so-called “schooling”. We did this by introducing our topic, asking a few general questions to read the room and understand where we might need to explain more, present our information to our peers, and break out into smaller groups for our closing discussion questions that were at the end of our presentation. I specifically chose to focus and present on the topics of the intent of the Native American boarding schools and how the students were being affected when they were not only enrolled, but when they “graduated”. When presenting, I referenced some key quotes that I thought would lend to the presentation and would assist in my explanation. However, in my breakout room, my group decided to have a freeform discussion that was more of a conversation talking about what we can do both in the present and when we are teachers to stop racial bias and cultural appropriation.
Spring, Joel 2013. Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality.Chapter 2: Native Americans:
Deculturalization. Schooling, and Globalization. New York: McGraw Hill.pp. 21-40.
SlideShow Link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Vq7JaRhFSfilPULtns9dFbnPvP4Y2gTKvKp8QU2QviA/edit#slide=id.g53adc58df2_1_23