May 18, 2015
The history of Native Americans has been a long and grueling one. Most of which has been plagued with pain, degradation, struggle, and horror. Even to this day, they are still trying to recover all that was taken from them. They struggle to regain and preserve their culture and lands that was ripped from them so long ago. Although there have been many events that have impacted Native Americans since 1877, the assimilation into non-reservation boarding schools, the Meriam Report, the American Indian Movement (AIM), and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act are among some of the more significant. The assimilation into non-reservation boarding schools has had a lasting effect on Native Americans. In 1879, Captain Richard H. Pratt founded the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, which was the first federally funded off-reservation Indian boarding school and quickly became the model for institutes all over the United States and Canada. The schools were set up as a way to teach Native Americans to be civilized, because they were thought to be savages, because there was a belief that the “white” culture was superior and needed to be asserted. The objective of these boarding schools was to “kill the Indian but save the human” (Indian school: Stories of survival, 2011). “Between 1880 and 1902, 25 schools were established to educate between 20,000 and 30,000 Native American students” (Barnes & Bowles, 2014). By the 1930’s most of the non-reservation Native American boarding schools had been closed, and their practices viewed as inhumane. When the children were being rounded up to be taken to these boarding schools, they would be removed from their homes, loaded into wagons, and then shipped off to the schools. Often times, the parents did not even know where their children were being taken. According to the video, Indian School: Stories of Survival, it is said that when the children were taken from their home the women sang the child’s death song, because they knew that when that child came home, it would never be the same again (2011). In these boarding schools, the children were often humiliated, beaten, demoralized, and sometimes killed. The children were terrified and often feared for their lives. In the video, Indian School: Stories of Survival, it is said that “there was widespread physical and sexual abuse in the boarding schools. Children died in the boarding schools. And many times, their families were not even notified of their death” (2011). They were taught to hate their culture and heritage and were forced to change their appearance, by way of haircuts. They were also forbidden to speak in their native language and their traditional names were replaced with new, more Christianized names. Coming out of the schools, many turned to alcohol, drugs, prostitution, or a mix of all three. “Intergenerational trauma is trauma that is not resolved in the generation where it's found. And as a result, that trauma is passed on from one generation to the next” (Indian school: Stories of survival, 2011). Due to the damage done by these boarding schools, the lasting effects can still be seen in the Native American culture today. The next event that impacted the Native Americans, was the Meriam Report. The report was commissioned by the Department of Interior, and Lewis Meriam was assigned as the technical director of the survey team. The team was to collect and convey information on the conditions of Native Americans across the country. Meriam submitted this report on February 21, 1928. The report remarks on topics, such as, health, education, poverty, and the despair that characterized many Indian communities. It criticizes the Department of Interior’s implementation of the Dawes Act with statistics, while bringing light to the overall conditions on reservations and in Native American boarding schools. Meriam (1928)...
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