Indian Schools

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Native American Assimilation into Western Culture
Throughout the 1800s and the early 1900s, the American government attempted to assimilate Native American children into the Western culture, with all the best intentions (Marr Intro). Through primary and secondary sources, we learn how this was done and the mistakes they made in doing it.

Primary sources, which are documents or other sources of information created at or near the time an event occurred, are an essential part in understanding history. There are many primary sources in the essay “Assimilation Through Education: Indian Boarding Schools in the Pacific Northwest” by Carolyn J. Marr including: photographs, transcripts, journal entries, and government documents.

The use of photographs has many advantages and disadvantages. Photographs are fairly accurate in describing an event. It gives the reader plenty of evidence and a feel for how the subjects were feeling during the event by showing emotions or facial expressions that could not be expressed through written word. On the other hand, they could be very biased as to show the harshest or best conditions possible. A photo is just a brief snapshot of a moment in time, and does not illustrate a whole event that a diary or journal might tell. Also, a photographer may be biased towards their own personal views, age, religion, social, economic, or political background; all of which may influence what he or she will or won’t photograph. Lastly, it is also not always clear where a photo was taken, why, and by whom.

Secondary sources prove to serve a very important role in interpreting history. They include documents, books, or articles, through interpretations by historians. Some books and documents used in Marr’s essay are: Carey C. Collins’ "Oregon's Carlisle: Teaching 'America´ at Chemawa Indian School", Carey C. Collins’ "Through the Lens of Assimilation: Edwin L. Chalcraft and Chemawa Indian School”, and Michael C....
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