Beginning in the
nineteenth century, boarding schools played a fundamental cycle in the
programs designed by the U.S. government to foster the assimilation of
native peoples into the mainstream of American society. Reformers and
politicians who favored the policy of reservation allotment also
advanced the concept of placing Indian children in residential schools
where they would speak English, learn a vocation, and practice farming.
Advocates of boarding schools argued that industrial training, in
combination with several years of isolation from family, would diminish
the influence of tribalism on a new generation of American Indians. For
fifty years after the first federally administered residential school
was established in 1879 at Carilsle, Pennsylvania, thousands of Native
American children and youth were sent to live, work, and be educated in
Prior to Carlisle, most American Indians had little experience with the boarding-school concept. Some had attended mission schools, and three unique institutions had developed earlier in the century: the Choctaw Academy and the Cherokee Male and Females Seminaries. The Choctaw Academy in Kentucky, founded in 1825, was a male boarding school that Indian and white children attended. The academy was funded by proceeds from Choctaw land cessions in the Southeast during the 1820s. By 1851, the Cherokees in Oklahoma had opened male and female seminaries near Tahequah to educate members of their nation. Cherokee students studied a curriculum that was patterned after that of Mount Holyoke Seminary in Massachusetts.
Boarding-school attendance increased dramatically when Congress increased funding for Indian education in the 1870s. The Indian Industrial School at Carlisle was the most well known of the Indian boarding schools, and developed a reputation for athleticism and winning football teams. Jim Thorpe, the most famous Native American athlete of the twentieth century, was a student at Carlisle when he won the decathlon and pentathlon during the Olympic Games in Sweden in 1912. Indian students like Thorpe were recruited to Pennsylvania from many tribes and regions in the West. Carlisle's founder, Richard Henry Pratt, a former officer in the U.S. military, designed the simple boarding-school program. Ideally, students were to spend half the day in the classroom and the remainder in manual labor. The vocationally oriented "outing program" was also a trademark of Pratt's that many other schools adopted. His goal was encapsulated in the phrase "Kill the Indian and save the man."
By 1899, twenty-five residential schools had been established in fifteen states with a total enrollment of twenty thousand students. Tremendous tribal diversity was reflected in the boarding-school population. In 1917, the final year Carlisle was in operation, fifty-eight tribes were represented in the student body, with Ojibwa students in the majority. The Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas founded in 1884, was a very intertribal school, with students enrolled from the Midwest, the Southwest, and Oklahoma. Hundreds of Cherokee students attended the Chilocco Indian School in Oklahoma, though the institution also recruited from a wide range of tribes Not all Indian boarding schools were as diverse as Carlisle, Haskell, and Chilocco. The Santa Fe Indian School, opened in New Mexico in 1890, primarily educated Pueblos and youths from other tribes in the Southwest. Reservation boarding schools, like Riverside in Oklahoma and Kansas Canyon in Arizona, served more local Indian populations.
The transition to boarding-school life seldom came smoothly for Indian children. The experience was punctuated by the trauma of separation from family and community, sever bouts of homesickness, and a difficult period of adjustment to a new environment. The loneliness students experienced was compounded by harsh policies that strictly regulated visits home. Officials limited the frequency and duration of children's visits to their families, contending that relatives and other community members would hinder the work of assimilation, or that newly reformed and educated students would lapse into their former "degraded" lifestyles. For Indian children, this often meant an extended stay of four years or more at school. Inflexible boarding-school regulations developed into a source of conflict between parents and school officials. As one mother complained to a school superintendent at the Flandreau Boarding School in South Dakota, where her daughter resided, "It seems that it would be much easier to get her out of prison than out of your school."
The boarding-school setting also proved to be conductive to the spread of disease. Many of the Indian deaths during the great influenza pandemic of 1918, which hit the Native American population hard, took place in boarding schools. At Haskell alone, over three hundred students grew critically ill, and many died. In the early twentieth century trachoma, the contagious and painful eye diseases, afflicted nearly half of the boarding-school population.
Tuberculosis was also commonplace in government boarding schools, where disease and healthy students intermingled. Little effort was made to provide afflicted children with special care to enriched diets. In letters to their family members, students sometimes complained of poor health. In 1924 a young student from Ashland, Wisconsin, requested that she be sent to a tuberculosis sanatorium rather than attend school while suffering the effects of the disease. The girl, miserable because of painful lesions on her legs that refused to heal, complained about the constant drilling and marching that was so much a part of the boarding-school regimen. The student tried to reason with her superintendent when she said: "How do you expect me to learn and study when I suffer so [?] . . . Would you rather have me go away to a sanatorium and get well and there I can learn and be happy or, Have me going to school and suffer?" By 1924, when this letter was written, students with tuberculosis had long been "officially" excluded from attending government boarding schools.
Native American parents often charged government boarding schools with ravaging the health of their children. In letters to school superintendents and sometimes to the Indian Office in Washington, parents complained about the outing programs, the long days, the work details, and the fact that boarding schools relied heavily on unpaid student labor for their operation. Some parents grew so concerned about the deteriorating health of their children that they refused to return them to boarding schools. The father of another student wrote to Flandreau in 1913 to explain his son's absence in September. The man, a cattle rancher, simply said he "preferred to have a live cowboy rather than a dead scholar." Unfortunately, hundreds of Native American children did not survive the boarding-school experience. Many Indian schools, including Haskell, Carlisle, Chemawa (in Oregon), and others, maintained cemeteries to bury the many Indian children who succumbed to sickness and disease.
The Mariam Report, a major investigation into Indian affairs was published in 1928, confirmed the complaints Indian families and students had been making for years. It asserted that government boarding schools needlessly separated families and that children were often malnourished, sick, insufficiently clothed, overworked, harshly punished, and poorly trained. During John Collier's long tenure as Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1933 to 1945, many government boarding schools closed or changed to day schools. Ironically, attendance rose during the same period because of Indian poverty during the Great Depression. Despite Collier's wishes, government boarding-schools were never completely abandoned. A few schools remained operational at midcentury. Haskell Institute converted to the Haskell Indian Junior College in 1964, Chilocco closed in 1980, and the Phoenix Indian School ceased operating late in the Reagan era. Some institutions continued as boarding schools but hired new administrators and instituted more contemporary policies. The Santa Fe Indian School, founded in 1890 to educate Indian children in the Southwest, is operated today by the All Indian Pueblo Council in New Mexico.
The boarding-school concept had many shortcomings, but the institutions are credited with cultivating "Pan-Indianism," an important part of native identity in the twentieth century. People formerly separated by language, culture, and geography lived and worked together in residential schools. Students formed close bonds and enjoyed a rich cross-cultured exchange. Graduates of government schools often married former classmates, found employment in the Indian Service, migrated to urban areas, or returned to their reservations and entered tribal politics. Countless new alliances, both personal and political, were forged in government boarding schools.
BRENDA J. CHILD (Red Lake Chippewa)
University of Washington at Milwaukee
|CARLISLE INDIAN INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL|
Formally opened in 1879
on the site of an abandoned military base in Pennsylvania, Carlisle was
the first non-reservation boarding school established for the U.S.
government for the exclusive use of native children. Its first director
was Richard Henry Pratt, and army officer who had experience in running
an Indian prisoner-of-war camp in St. Augustine, Florida. Pratt
convinced government officials and humanitarian reformers that education
was the solution to the "Indian Problem."
By objective of Carlisle's curriculum was, in Pratt's words, to "kill the Indian and save the man." The school set out to teach boys skills in mechanical and agricultural arts; girls were trained in sewing, cooking, laundry, and general housework. The English language was considered a strong "civilizing" force at Carlisle, and the use of native languages was strictly forbidden. Further attempts to break tribal ties included placing children with white families for the summer months, dressing students in military uniforms, and encouraging them to find permanent employment away from their home reservations.
By 1900, Carlisle had over twelve hundred students from seventy-nine tribes. Nevertheless, rising costs, resistance from parents, a preference for institutions closer to Indian populations, and World War I led to the decision to close the school in September 1918. The Indian Office returned the school buildings to the army.
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|CHEMAWA INDIAN SCHOOL|
Established in February 1880 as the Training
School for Indian Youth, the Chemawa school for Indians is an
off-reservation boarding school located in Oregon that serves tribes
throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. At the time of its founding
in Forest Grove, Oregon, the school offered Indians the opportunity to
earn an education and assimilate into mainstream society. Over time,
however, its primary goal became providing training in vocational skills
that would serve graduates both on and off the reservation.
Fire destroyed most of the original school in 1885, which prompted a move to a new location at Chemawa, Oregon, and the renaming of the facility. Students took an active role in rebuilding and caring for the school, and by 1922 enrollment had climbed to over one thousand students. In 1927, Chemawa became a fully accredited four-year high school.
Chemawa's focus has changed in the past century. It began as a coercive and authoritarian institution, became vocationally oriented to the early twentieth century, and later tried to incorporate native traditions into a general academic curriculum. Though initially unpopular with native students, Chemawa has survived various attempts by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to close it, thanks mainly to the support of Northwest tribes who have taken pride in the school's accomplishments and for whom it assumed an important role in the education of their children.
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An off-reservation Indian
boarding school in South Dakota located between Sioux Falls and
Brookings, Flandreau is the oldest boarding school in continuous
operation in the United States. The Bureau of Indian Affairs established
Flandreau in 1893 in the expectation that off-reservation education
would break down tribalism and assimilate Indian youths.
Today, the state of South Dakota accredits Flandreau as a high school, although the school remains really funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. One hundred sixty resident employees provide housing and care for Flandreau's students for 175 days each year. In 1993 three administrators and forty-three teachers served 556 students at the school. The student body is diverse, representing sixty-three tribes and bands from thirty-four states.
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Founded at the Hampton
Normal and Agricultural Institute, Hampton Institute is located near
Hampton, Virginia. the American Missionary Association of New York
bought the land in 1867 specifically to provide instruction for
freedmen. The school opened in April 1868 and received a formal charter
from the General Assembly of Virginia in 1870. The founder and first
principal was General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, assigned by the
Freedmen's Bureau and himself the son of missionary educators in the
Indian students first attended Hampton in 1878 when a group of Kiowa men who had been held its prisoners of war at St. Petersburg, Florida, were brought north as an experiment in Indian education. The first group's success led Congress to authorize its leader, Army captain Richard Henry Pratt, use of an abandoned army barracks at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for an all-Indian institution. Pratt founded the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1879.
Some officials objected to the mixing of African American and Native American students, yet Hampton was much like other federal boarding schools for Indians. Generally, students learned domestic and agricultural arts and crafts and were then encouraged to return to their people as emissaries of Euro-American culture. Male students also received military training.
By the turn of the century nearly a thousand students were attending Hampton, of whom 135 were Native American. From that high point, the number if Indian pupils dwindled until 1923, when the program was discontinued.
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|THE COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY|
The College of William
and Mary's experiment in American Indian education attempted to convert
natives from a traditional way of life thought to a new one. Despite the
pious intentions of Virginia's earliest English arrivals, the
establishment of a Native American school in the colony was not realized
until February 8, 1693, when James Blair, Virginia's commissary,
received a royal charter from King William III and Queen Mary for "a
place of universal study" for American Indian and English youth in
Virginia. During his trip ahead, Blair also arranged to have rents from
the Brafferton estate, purchased by the Irish-born scientist Robert
Boyle's executors, bankroll the Indian school that was to be part of the
new educational institution.
William and Mary opened its doors to native pupils in 1700, only to discover that tribal elders refused to relinquish their beloved children to the care of strangers. Hesitant tribal leaders perceived the Williamsburg school to be nothing more than an elaborate ruse deigned to secure an ample supply of Indian slaves. As a result, chieftains sent captured enemies to the college in place of their own children.
Native enrollment at the college much of it enforced peaked during periods of Indian and white conflict. The natives' presence in Williamsburg acted to deter potential Indian enemies from attacking Virginia's frontier settlements for fear of reprisals. During the Tuscarora War (1711-13), twenty Nansemond, Nottaway, Merherrin, Chickahominy, and Panunkey children attended the school. In 1715 a visiting Catawba delegation agreed to dispatch to Williamsburg two children from each of their towns as hostages during the Yamasee War. After each crisis passed, captive students returned home.
As the clouds of war appeared on the horizon in 1750, Virginians recruited Iroquois and Cherokee students for the college, hoping thereby to prevent those two powerful Indian confederacies from becoming French allies. Iroquois representatives, however, refused to and send their sons to Williamsburg, Canasatego, an Onondaga, recalled that educated natives "were absolutely good for nothing." Although able to read and write, he continued, English-educated pupils did not know the "true method of killing deer, catching Beaver, or surprising an enemy." The Onondaga diplomat did, however, agree to receive "a dozen or two English youth" and "make men of them."
Negotiations with the Cherokees fared much better. Eight Cherokee students attended the school from 1753 to 1756. These scholars, however, did not like the confinement of school life. Governor Robert Dinwiddie informed Old Hop, the Cherokee Chieftain, that the young men were well cared for but could not be reconciled to their books and "went away of their own accord."
By 1760 few natives attended William and Mary. The majority were hostages dispatched to Williamsburg as part of complex treaty agreements or, like four Shawnee pupils enrolled in 1774, prisoners of war. After fighting erupted between the British and Americans in April 1775, the Boyle legacy was transferred to the West Indies, where it was used to educate black slaves. Lacking financial resources to continue the Indian school at the college closed its doors in 1777.
JON L. BRUDVIG
The College of William and Mary
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New Hampshire's Dartmouth
College, according to its charter, was created "for the education and
instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land in reading,
writing and all parts of learning . . . as well as all liberal Arts and
Sciences; and also of English Youth and any others." The charter was
granted in 1769 to Eleazar Wheelock, an evangelical Congregational
minister who since 1754 had been attempting to Christianize Indians at
his Moon's Indian Charity School in eastern Connecticut. In the 225
years since Wheelock received the charter, Dartmouth has concentrated
mostly on the education of those "English Youth and any others." The
college has, however, a long history of involvement with Indian
education and, in 1969 "refounding," instituted what was proved to be a
very successful Native American academic and social program.
The pre-1969 involvement with Native Americans tool several forms. Wheelock and many raised in England by Samson Occom (Mohegan) to finance the first Dartmouth buildings. Wheelock brought Moor's Indian Charity School with him to New Hampshire and used it as both a college preparatory school for whites and a place to educate natives. His successors continued to support Moor's in part because Indian education was funded by a Scottish trust. The number of Indians enrolled was never large, however, and the school was closed in the 1850s. For the next century most of the few Indians seeking education at Dartmouth were either rejected, shipped off to neighboring academies, or before 1900 accommodated in the college's associated programs in agriculture, medicine, and science. Only a handful ever enrolled in Dartmouth's core liberal-arts college. Researchers disagree over the precise number of Native Americans attending the school between founding and refounding, but there weren't many. The best guess for the two-hundred-year period is about 120 students in the various schools. Only nine appear to have graduated from either Dartmouth or its associate schools. One of these graduates was Charles A. Eastman (Ohiyea), a member of the class of 1887. The college's main commitment to things native was through an increasing institutional use of racial symbols. For example, by the 1920s most college intercollegiate athletic teams were known as the Dartmouth Indians.
The 1969 re-founding, announced by the college's newly appointed president, John Kemeny, in his inaugural address, brought dramatic change. The college set a goal of 2 percent Indian undergraduate enrollment (about 120 in a student body of 4,000), instructed admissions officers to recruit qualified Native American students, and provided many for support services, both academic and social. Progress was slow but steady. The class of 1991 was the first to reach the hoped-for thirty matriculants. The graduation rate for Indians attending Dartmouth increased steadily over 70 percent. Native American Studies, began as an experimental interdisciplinary program in 1972, because a permanent program in 1980; under the leadership of Michael Dorris it attracted hundreds of students of all races to its many course offerings. The college provided living and social quarters, financial aid, internships, and staff for Native American activities. Despite opposition, especially from older college alumni, the use of Indian symbols declined. The college insisted the athletic teams stop using them entirely.
Dartmouth today is firmly committed to the education of American Indians. Since 1970 enrolled members of 111 different tribes have attended the college. Graduates, many of whom have obtained professional degrees, serve Indian peoples in multiple ways. The annual Dartmouth Powwow has become a major social event in New Hampshire and Vermont. It has taken a while, but Dartmouth College is finally doing something significant "for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land."
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University enjoys a worldwide reputation for academic excellence, its
founding purpose to educate American Indian youths is little known.
Drawn up in the 1650s, shortly after the Pilgrims arrived in the New
World, Harvard's original charter states that the college was
established for "the education of its English and Indian youths of this
country in knowledge and godliness."
In 1614, the enthusiasm for harvard's founding purpose by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Among the Indian and Others (also known as the New England Company) led to the construction of a two-story brick structure in Harvard Yard known as the Indian College. By 1665, however, there were no longer any Indian students at Harvard. By the end of the seventeenth century, only eight Indian students had attended the College, and just one, Caleb Cheeshahteamuck had graduated.
Because no Indian students were attending Harvard at the time, the Indian College was used to board English youths from 1665 and 1693, when the permission of the New England Company, administration decided to demolish the building with the provision that "in case any Indian should hereafter be sent to the College, they should enjoy their studies rent-free." In this way, the New England Company's legacy of providing for Indian students persisted, although the physical structure of the Indian College did not. Thus, in just fifteen years after Harvard's founding there were no Indian students attending the college, and within fifty years of Harvard's founding, its mission to educate and Christianize Indians had nearly been forgotten.
Little is known about Harvard's history regarding native peoples between 1693 and the 1950s. What is clear is that Harvard's commitment to native education lay dormant for some three hundred years. Although the "rent-free" status of Indian students had been forgotten, an increase in native-student enrollment occurred in the 1960s, mostly at the law school and the Graduate School of Education (GSE). This increased Indian-student presence, and its attendant activism, paved the way for a rebirth of Harvard's obligation to Indian education with the founding in 1970 of the American Indian Program at GSE. The program received a grant from the federal government to fill the void of trained American Indians and Alaska Native professionals in the field of education and to recruit Indian students to GSE. The program, remained the Harvard Native American program in 1991, has been instrumental in supporting Native American students, who since its inception have earned 182 advanced degrees in education. As of 1995, GSE had conferred 156 master's degrees, 22 certificates of advanced study, and 19 doctorates on Native Americans.
Today there is a sense that Harvard has begun to renew its commitment to providing education to native peoples. A prominent example of this commitment is the John F. Kennedy School of Government's Project on American Indian Economic Development. This project's central, continuing activities include comparative and case research and the application to that research in services to native nations. Furthermore, the enrollment rate of native students at Harvard is slowly increasing. In 1995, forty undergraduates and seventy-three graduate students at the university identified themselves as Native Americans 0.6 percent of the total student body. These activities and changes demonstrate that Harvard continues its struggles to fulfill one of its original missions: the education of the native peoples of North America.
MANLEY A. BEGAY, JR. (Navajo)
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The first instance of
federal aid to education in the newly independent United States was very
probably the congressional subvention voted in 1779 for the education of
three Delaware Indians in Princeton, New Jersey. John Witherspoon,
president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University),
admitted them to preparatory studies in the Princeton grammar school
that year. Only one of them was to matriculate in the college; George
Morgan White Eyes (1770?-1798) of the Princeton class of 1789, son of a
sachem loyal to the American cause whose unjust murder by an American
officer motivated this congressional largess.
White Eyes was preceded at the college by two other Delaware students several decades earlier; Jacob Wooley (born 1743?), of the class of 1762; and Shawquskukhkung (wilted Grass), also known as Bartholomew Scott Calvin (1756?-1840), class of 1776. White Eyes was in Princeton when the college temporarily became the capital of the United States for four months in 1783. While it was meeting there, the Continental Congress, undoubtedly under the urgings of White Eye's namesake, the Indian agent George Morgan, became the scene of deliberations of fundamental legislation concerning the relationship of the American Indian and the nation. None of the three Delaware undergraduates at Princeton in the eighteenth century completed work for their baccalaureate degree.
More than half a century was to pass before the next group of Native American students arrived on the Princeton campus, all of them capable, this time, of bridging the extraordinary trans-cultural chasm. They were three Cherokee who had prepared at the Lawrenceville School: John McDonald Ross (1820-42) of the Princeton class of 1841; William Potter Ross (1823-91), class of 1842; and Robert Daniel Ross (1826-63), class of 1843. All were nephews of John Ross, the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. William Potter Ross, who served as a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate Army, succeeded his uncle as principal chief in 1861 and went on to become one of the Cherokee Nation's leading statesmen. His brother Robert Daniel earned a M.A. from Princeton in 1846 and received his M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1847, becoming one of the first Indians to practice European medicine.
The class of 1863 included Allan McFarlan, a Choctaw from Indian Territory who, according to class records, "disappeared at the end of the Sophomore year, in the midst of the war excitement."
In the first half of the twentieth century only three Native Americans are known to have matriculated at Princeton University: Howard Edwards Gansworth (1876-1956), a Seneca (and a descendant of Red Jacket) who graduated with the class of 1901; John Gibson, a Pima who studied briefly with the class of 1920; and J. Paul Baldeagle (1897-1970), a Lakota who received his A.B. degree with the class of 1923.
Almost another half century was to pass before Indians were again to be found among the student body: in 1970 a Hopi man and a Lakota woman entered as freshmen. They were the first of a small but extraordinary group of American Indian students at Princeton in the 1970s. In this single decade at least twenty-four students with genuine ties to Native American communities studied at Princeton. Some indication of the quantum leap of cultures these students achieved is suggested by the fact that at least five of them were raised by parents who were monolingual speakers of their native languages. Two-thirds of them were from reservations. All of the reservation Indians eventually returned home to responsibilities in their own communities.
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At the time of its
founding in 1701 as the Collegiate School of Connecticut (soon to be
renamed Yale College in honor of Elihu Yale, a wealthy benefactor), both
the faculty and students at Yale showed great interest in "saving"
Indians by converting them to Christianity. Abraham Pierson, the father
of the first rector of Yale, had served as a preacher to the local
Quinnipiac Indians in the late 1650s. Among the college's early alumni
who became missionaries to tribes in the Northeast were John Sergeant
(1710-49) and David Brainerd (1718-47), both of whom preached to Indians
in the area between Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and Albany, New York.
The Reverend Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), probably Yale's most brilliant
graduate in the eighteenth century, also served as a missionary in the
same area for a few years.
Given the highly religious atmosphere, it is not surprising that in `754 Eleazar Wheelock, another Yale-educated minister, founded Moor's Indian Charity School in Lebanon, Connecticut. Wheelock was impressed by the promise of his Indian students (among whom was the future Mohawk leader Joseph Brant), but especially a Mohegan convert, Samson Occom, whom he had tutored privately from 1743 to 1747. With Occom's help he secured funds from England that allowed him in 1769 to found Dartmouth College, originally intended as a school for Indian youths.
Although no Indian youths attended Yale in the eighteenth century, the fascination with Indian tribes and their leaders persisted. During the era of the American Revolution and afterward, Yale graduates John Trumbull (1756-1843) and Jeremiah Evarts (1781-1831) and former students James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) and Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826) developed deep interests in both Indian life and Indian affairs.
Later in the nineteenth century, Senator Henry L. Dawes of the Yale class of 1839, while wishing to help "the red man," was responsible for the controversial Dawes Severalty Act of 1887, which promised homesteads for individual Indians in the effort to make them farmers and therefore assimilated Americans. Meanwhile Frederic Remington, a graduate of the Yale Art School, was busy painting Indians as romantic but tragic figures.
It was not until 1960 that Yale admitted its first Indian American, Henry Roe Cloud, a Winnebago from Nebraska, as a student. After receiving his B.A. in 1910, Cloud continued his studies at Oberlin and Auburn Theological Seminary and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1913. Subsequently he returned to Yale to take an M.A. degree. Cloud was an effective representative before Washington officials on matters of policy, and in 1915 he founded the Roe Indian Institute (named for the white missionary couple who had adopted him). Cloud served as superintendent of his own institute for many years. Equally important during the late 1920s, Cloud coauthored the famous Meriam Report of 1928, which called for a complete overhaul of federal Indian policy.
In the twentieth century two fundamental shifts in the perception of Indian Americans and their culture occurred at Yale and other institutions of higher learning. First, beginning in 1900, Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History acquired major collections of Pacific Northwest, Plains, Seminole, and northeastern Indian artifacts. Noted anthropologists such as Clark Wissler, Edward Sapir, and Keith Basso joined the Yale faculty and offered courses on Indian societies. Similarly, the archaeologists Hiram Bingham, Irving Rouse, Michael Coe, and others taught courses at Yale on Indian prehistoric societies in Central and South America.
Second, the university admitted a growing number of Indians to Yale College and to its graduate and professional schools. Recent students have included Indians from Alaska, the Navajo Nation, and the Sioux and Iroquois Reservations, among them Claudia Emmanuel (a descendant of Joseph Brant) and Sam Deloria. Both are now lawyers. Dr. Joseph Jacobs, a Mohawk, who graduated from the Yale School of Medicine, heads the National Institutes of Health program for alternative medicine. In 1994 Phillip Deloria, of Sioux descent, and Brian Wescott, of Tlingit descent, received their Ph.D.'s in American studies. By the fall of 1994 some thirty-two Indian students were enrolled in Yale College alone. A number of Yale University graduates, both Indian and non-Indian, now teach Indian history and studies in other schools, work on reservations or for the federal government, serve as legal counsel for tribal groups, or pursue social studies of Indian culture and crafts. Ironically, the greatest change in Yale's nearly three centuries of concern for Indians has occurred only in the last four decades. As one faculty member put it, "We have learned to listen in order to learn."
HOWARD R. LAMAR
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Education is the process
by which a culture teaches its ways to ensuing generations. Education
has also been an area of continuous conflict in the history of relations
between American Indians and outsiders. From the 1500s forward, native
perceptions of education has undergone immense changes, but core
precepts have held. As a consequence, native beliefs regarding education
influence nonnative people today.
Long before outsiders left their drifting pieces of Turtle Island (Europe, Africa and Asia) to cross the waters, the First Americans were teaching their children the ways of the people. Whether they were Lenni Lenape (Delaware), Nimipu (Nez Perce), or Dinι (Navajo), native communities saw education as intrinsic to their cultural community. In the hundreds of native groups populating the continent and speaking more than 250 different languages, children were a focus of concern. Infants received even grater care, for as the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) noted "an infant's life is as the thinness of a single leaf." Valued as future bearers of culture, children received guidance and affection through internal networks composed of families, clans, and subsocieties, all linked within the community by common language, religion, economic needs, and worldview.
The continent spawned tremendous diversity in cultures, a diversity echoed in their means of education. Nonetheless, similarities suggest some common themes. Native communities taught their children three dimensions of maturity; survival, spirituality, and ethics. Children's instruction came from multiple sources, including parents, elders, and spiritual leaders. On the Columbia River plateau boys learned to fish the rivers crowded with salmon each spring; in the fall they hunted for bear, deer, and elk. Girls smoked salmon, gathered roots and berries, wove baskets, and sewed clothing and moccasins. Both went on vision quests. In the high-desert Southwest, Anasazi boys learned to raise corn, beans, and to understand the nature of their spiritual role. Girls cared for the home, ground corn and cooked, and participated in the seasonal ceremonies. Both learned that the village was of greater importance than the individual. Since native groups living between the Rio Grande and the Arctic relied exclusively on oral learning, storytelling was ubiquitous. Figures such as Raven and Coyote taught lessons, often through humor, and sometimes through negative of ample.
Each group created incentives of maturity. Training began with the cradleboard, which provided security and discipline for infants; older youths were molded by the authoritative presence of masked figures or the ridicule of "joking cousins," who were obliged to keep them humble with herbs and pointed jokes. Since maturity assumed endurance and an imperviousness to pain and hardship, corporal punishment was rare.
Education reinforced the First Americans' unique economic and spiritual link with the land, a connection that was maintained through an ongoing symbiotic relationship. Countless generations carrying on the precepts and traditions of the ancient heritage are a testimony to educational success.
The outsiders sailing to North America brought with them their own forms of education. Like the First Americans, they represented diverse cultures, with equally diverse approaches to education. Whether Spanish, Dutch, African, French, Russian, or English, they also taught their children skills and knowledge in the area of survival, spirituality, and ethics. Although many immigrants reflected a Judeo-Christian tradition, their faiths were as varied as those of the First Americans, and they represented and equally broad spectrum, extending from African tribal religions to numerous varieties of Christianity.
The outsiders perceived the land and people of the Americas through many worldviews, which ranged from medieval to Enlightenment to protocapitalist. Despite this diversity, those who came from Europe also brought specific values that molded the approach toward native people. Two dimensions of their worldview the perception of land as commodity and their view of religion as a precept that must be taught to those who did not share similar beliefs had a profound impact on the education of native children.
Two twin goals land acquisition and religious conversion guided their approach; their methods were more problematic. Beyond warfare, a staple solution to crisis, Europeans relied on weapon of education to persuade tribal people that European worldviews were superior. Viewing adults as less malleable, they saw native children as vessels of change. Children could be molded toward the values of land ownership, individualism, and some form of Christianity, especially if they were removed from their community.
Tribal people viewing this approach began to perceive European education as compartmentalized learning. Although Europeans, like tribal groups, taught their children at home, some sent them away to special dwellings for further instruction. There they sat on wooden benches and recited before an elder or learned numbers from talking leaves or memorized the spiritual book
From the early seventeenth through the mid-nineteenth century most Indian children had little contact with "white man's education." Those few who did learn in day or boarding schools from "Black Robes" or Protestant ministers or schoolmasters. In the Southwest, Franciscan padres taught Pueblo children; in the northeastern woodlands, Protestant schoolmasters, some of them American Indian, taught Algonquian or Iroquois youths. In 1663 several Algonquian and the Congregationalist John Eliot published the first North American Bible, in Massachusett and English. Before the American Revolution a small number of Indian students attended eastern colleges such as Harvard and Dartmouth.
When it was not fighting the Indian nations, the young republic relied on "white man's education" to attain Euro-American goals of land acquisition, individualism, and religious conversion. Bypassing the Constitution's mandate for the separation of church and state, Congress endorsed a partnership between the federal government and church organizations through a contractual relationship formalized in the Indian Civilization Fund Act (1819), which provided federal funding for "benevolent societies" to instruct Indians in agriculture and Indian children "in reading, writing and arithmetic." Moreover, more than one-fourth of the treaties negotiated between Indian tribes and the federal government included schooling provisions.
Although these measures reached only a small percentage of Indian children, many of those were members of the Southeast tribes removed to Indian Territory in the 1830s along the Trail of Tears. Prominent among these were the Cherokees, whose commitment to change led to strong support for schooling. Once settled in the West, the so-called Five Civilized Tribes controlled their own schools until Congress passed the Curtis Act in 1898, which dissolved all their governmental institution, including schools.
Although Indians had attended boarding schools for many generations before the 1870s, this traumatic form of education took on new life after the wars in the trans-Mississippi West were over and the last treaties were signed. The chasm that divided the Navajo surrender at Canyon de Chelly (8163) and the Indian victory at Little Bighorn (1876) from today's Indian world was first crossed when relatives of the Navajo headman Manuelito and the Lakota leader Spotted Tail boarded the train Carlisle Industrial School in Pennsylvania.
Brought into being in 1879 by Richard Henry Pratt, an army officer and educator, Carlisle epitomized "white man's education" (and continued to do so long after it was closed in 1918). By 1900, twenty-four clones of Carlisle, included Haskell, Chenawa, Flandreau, Albuquerque, and Chilocco, had opened in the West, but Carlisle clung to its legendary status, becoming a source of pride to Indians, who rooted for its football teams and athletes like Jim Thorpe.
Thousands of Indians learned their three R's and a vocational skill at Carlisle and other boarding schools, yet their motivations and reactions remained mixed. Luther Standing Bear, a Lakota, recalled, "This chance to go East would prove that I was brave if I were to accept." Zitkala a (Gertrude Bonnin) a Yankton, liked the incentives: "big red apples," and riding "on the iron horse." Others were sent by their tribes in order to become cultural brokers between their communities and outsiders. Some were enrolled because they were orphans or lived in poverty, and the schools promised food, clothing, and shelter.
Between 1870 and the 1930s the Bureau of Indian Affairs often failed to fulfill this promise. Federal schools often scrimped on food, and relied on the students' skills in sewing, farming, cooking, cobbling, and carpentry to operate the institutions. Yet the harsh conditions, the severe punishments for speaking a native language or running away, the military discipline "you lined up and marched, to almost everything you did," recalled Tulalip and the rigid pressure to be like whites failed to prevent students from forgoing a Pan-Indian identity, or from recalling their school days with nostalgia.
During the 1930s Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier modified the assimilationist image of BIA schools, but trends in schools outside the BIA had already irrevocably altered the shape of "white man's education." Federal reimbursement to public schools for the enrollment of Indian pupils was already in place by 1900, and by 1928 the majority of Indian schoolchildren attended public school. World War II increased this trend dramatically. Military service and war work drew thousands of Indians to urban areas. The war also revolutionized American Indian attitudes toward schooling. Indian veterans relied on the GI Bill and urged support for schooling. The BIA opened programs for Navajo and Alaska "overage" youths to learn the three R's and undertake job training. The Indian Claims Commission, established in 1946, granted monetary awards that were used by some tribes for scholarship funding. The term "white man's education" had become an anachronism, and Indians replaced it with "Get an education." Education had come to mean a high school diploma, a ticket to a job.
Federal Indian policy of the postwar years entered another pressure for schooling. As tribes resisted the extension of states' legal authority and the unilateral termination of tribal relationships with the federal government, indians realized that the battle of wits demanded even more schooling. By the 1960s the goal of a high school diploma was expanding toward college and, for some, graduate school. The law served as a magnet: if offered a powerful weapon to deal wit legal claims, state governments, the BIA, and Congress.
The political climate of the 1960s stimulated the drive for more schooling; it also introduced the idea of an Indian voice in federal policymaking and public discussion of native issues. In this tumultuous era American Indians moved to complete the circle that would eventually lead them toward the holistic education once central to their societies.
The persistent onslaught by Euro-Americans had taken its toll. Disease, warfare, removal, land theft, and schooling had persuaded some native survivors to adopt the Euro-American values of land ownership, individualism, and Christianity. The 1960s saw a wide spread questioning of this trend among schooled Indians both urban and reservation who began to campaign for self-determination and treaty rights through resistance measures like the Pacific Northwest fish-ins.
As these struggles became diversified in a milieu dominated by the civil rights movement and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, they incorporated a new approach to schooling. The congressional battles over Indian control of schooling, which led to the passage of the Indian Education Act (1972), the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (1975), and the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act (1978), reflected the combined efforts of Indian lobbying groups and liberal member of Congress. This legislation has brought some Indian control over programs for the 85 percent of all Indian children who are in public school, along with direct contracting and other forms of control for BIA-funded schools.
A pivotal decade, the 1960s reintroduced some balance to Indian education. In precontact times education was sustained by family and community; by the mid-twentieth century it had splintered between the native community and nonnative schools. The 1970s legislation provided a means for tribal people to reconnect the values taught in their communities with those introduced in school. In the long run, this might lead toward the integrated education that had once been central to native communities.
The decade of the 1960s also altered the balance between education influenced by Euro-Americans and education influenced by Indians. Although most outsiders had ignored what American Indians could teach them, some nonnative people had always been receptive to tribal worldviews. From the 1960s forward this receptivity expanded as Americans confronted issues such as pollution and diminishing natural resources. Recent decades have raised questions on both sides of the cultural divide; nonnatives have begun to listen to the teachings of tribal people; American Indians have been searching for connections between high school and college diplomas and the ancient core of their education.
MARGARET CONNELL SZASZ
University of New Mexico
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In spite of the wide
diversity of Native American cultures, early accounts reveal numerous
cross-cultural similarities in Native American perspectives on child
rearing. These include: allowing children to learn through their own
observations; relying strongly on nonverbal cues rather than verbal
directions; engaging the spiritual world in the child-rearing process by
praying, changing, and singing, as well as by conferring special names
to five children guidance and power; educating children for their future
roles including them from infancy in all social, economic, and ritual
activities; giving children the same range of freedom of behavior as
adults; using stories to provide an understanding of the world and its
relationships, both those between individuals and that between man and
nature; respecting the individuality and desires of children to the same
degree that those respected in adults; teaching children their
responsibilities to each member of their kinship group; allowing
children to fulfill their physical needs such as sleeping, eating, and
restraint; impressing children with their roles in society through
marking their passage into new stages of development with public
ceremonies, especially at puberty.
Underlying these characteristics is a view of children from birth, as full participants in society, with a standing equal to that of adults. This attitude is a reflection of the religious orientation of Native Americans, in which all things in nature are accorded equal respect, be they inanimate or animate. Consequently, children were not expected to be supervised by adults but to be free like their elders, their freedom limited only by social obligations. As a result, child-care practices emphasized a responsiveness to the wishes of the child. For example, children were usually toilet trained when they were ready, and not according to a schedule based on adult needs, and in some societies children nursed for as long as five to seven years. Thus Native Americans allowed children to fit themselves into the social order, rarely using corporal punishment or other coercive methods to force conformity.
At the time of contact with Europeans, most Native Americans lived in face-to-face communities where people knew one another. Child training was aided by shared values and an extended kinship system that tied an individual to all members of the society, either by descent or marriage, or through formal religious or social affiliations. As a consequence, all adults shared some responsibility for socializing the society's children.
While Native American societies shared a broadly common orientation, nomadic hunting and gathering societies expressed these general values more fully than sedentary, horticultural societies, regardless of their economic systems, were organized for subsistence, requiring all people to contribute to the group according to their ability. Children represented the continuation of society, and their accomplishments signified the groups potential to endure. The importance and centrality of children was reflected in the public celebration of events in a child's life, such as a child's first steps, a girl's first menstrual cycle, or a boy's search for his spiritual helper at puberty.
In native societies, the adults primarily responsible for child care were often not the parents. In hunting and gathering societies, it was more practical for grandparents to rear children too young to participate in economic activities. For example, among such tribes as the Arapahos, Gros Ventres, Blackfeet, and Sioux of the northern plains, grandparents prepared and cooked the food, did the household chores, and took care of the children. Grandparents were also repositories of cultural knowledge and wisdom, which they passed on to their grandchildren through instruction and stories. In these societies, children's individuality was allowed maximum expression and child training was minimally coercive. Strong emotional ties and intimate, teasing relationships also tended to develop between these children and their grandparents.
Although men in northern Plains cultures were frequently expected to be warriors and hunters, they spent a great deal of time with their children when they were at home, especially with their sons. In societies that placed a premium on individual initiative and personal skill, they taught young boys to make tools such as spears, shields, and bows and arrows, and encouraged them to practice by hunting small animals around their village. Thus from early childhood, boys' play activities helped prepare them for their adult roles.
In these societies, as soon as they were old enough, girls were taught by their grandparents and mothers to make moccasins, clothing, and lodge coverings, and to participate in daily chores such as preparing food and carrying water. Girls were also responsible for the care of their younger siblings, and strong emotional attachments developed between younger and older siblings, who spent a great deal of time in each other's company. Girls and boys were generally allowed to interact until they reached puberty. At puberty, girls were secluded in a menstrual hut and female relatives instructed them in homemaking skills and proper behavior. At the end of this time, girls were ready for marriage.
Among such tribes as the Blackfeet and Crows, there were also accounts of men having strong and loving relationships with favorite daughters, whom they would take with them on hunting and raiding forays. As a result, some girls became proficient in male activities and a few women became noted warriors and leaders.
In some nomadic societies, children went to live with other relatives; most often boys went to live with uncles. Children were sometimes given in adoption to other families who had lost chidden, or to older people who had no descendants to take care of them. In the fluid world of hunters and gatherers, adoption of both children and adults was frequent, and adoptees were accepted as fully as if they had been born into the family.
Horticultural societies such as the Pueblos and the Iroquois frequently traced kinship through mothers. These matrilineal kinship systems assigned the mother's brother the task of training male children. In these societies, children belonged to another clan (his mother's clan). It was thus necessary for a male from the mother's clan (the mother's brother) to be responsible for training boys to assume their responsibilities in the clan. For example, among the Hopis, the men cultivated the fields owned by their wife's clan. Around the age of ten, sons began to learn to cultivate crops by working alongside their fathers. But it was a maternal uncle who was primarily responsible for socializing children, especially boys. The maternal uncle educated boys to fulfill their obligations to other members of their kinship group, preparing them for the ritual roles of their clan and for initiation into social fraternities. Maternal uncles were also the primary disciplinarians of Hopi children and as a result were the most respected and sometimes feared members of a child's kin group. The Hopi father-son relationship was more relaxed and affectionate.
Hopi girls had a close relationship with their mothers, who trained them in their household duties. Grinding corn, the food that was most central to their survival, was the most time-consuming and difficult work they had to do. Nevertheless, instruction was not didactic but cooperative. Women and girls sang songs as they ground their corn, sharing a common burden, the women teaching by example. Not surprisingly, corn grinding was also one of the main components of the girl's ceremonies at puberty and marriage.
In many societies, it was believed that children were reincarnated ancestors and that if they were not treated well, they would leave. In such societies, coercive methods were avoided for fear the child would die. However, there are Native American examples of coercive methods, including corporal punishment. Parents who exercised this type of control were likely to deflect their children's frustration and anger from themselves by telling them that a spirit would take them away if they did not do what they were told. Among the Hopi, it was primarily the mother's brother who punished children for misbehavior. Men dressed as Kachinas, powerful beings in Hopi mythology, also whipped children of both sexes in their first initiation ceremony, which took place when they were from six to ten years of age. Among the Nez Perces, there was a "Whipperman" who disciplined children by switching them in groups. The most severe example of parental control of children's behavior was the Ojibwa enforcement of ritual fasting, which children were made to undertake periodically for a day as a time beginning around the age of four or five to prepare them psychologically for the scarcity of food that occurred during the winter.
Because parents did not usually take an disciplinary tasks, Native American societies often relied upon peer pressure to control children's behavior. In most societies, a child was a member of an extended family and was usually raised in the company of many peers. If a child did things to bring attention to himself, peers shamed him into conformity. When corporal punishment was used among the Nez Perces, children were usually disciplined in peer groups, even though only one child might be guilty of misbehavior. By punishing an entire group, adults could rely on children to control each other's behavior.
The basic values underlying traditional cultural approaches to child rearing are still evident in Native America. This fact is particularly evident where people have remained in their own communities and traditional religious practices have persisted. However, contact with nonnative influences has tended to dilute these perspectives, undermining community standards. Today the contrast between native and European child-rearing strategies is not as strong as it once was. Many social workers assert that the disjunctive between traditional practices and contemporary conditions has contributed to social and educational difficulties.
MARILYN G. BENTZ (Gros Ventre)
University of Washington
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