February 4, 2013

TEEN LIFE WAY BACK WHEN: Schooling for American Indians

Photos courtesy of Wiki Commons:  Sioux Indian Boys upon arrival at the Carlisle Indian School, Pennsylvania, 1879

Last time we talked about the the education of children from widely separated families out here on the Great Plains in the one-room schoolhouse.  But there was another population of children and teens living in the area - the American Indian.  The policy of the United States Government in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century on the education of native peoples is nicely summed up in this quote from the University of Washington (http://content.lib.washington.edu/aipnw/marr.html):

"The goal of Indian education from the 1880s through the 1920s was to assimilate Indian people into the melting pot of America by placing them in institutions where traditional ways could be replaced by those sanctioned by the government. Federal Indian policy called for the removal of children from their families and in many cases enrollment in a government run boarding school. In this way, the policy makers believed, young people would be immersed in the values and practical knowledge of the dominant American society while also being kept away from any influences imparted by their traditionally-minded relatives."

The photograph above shows a group of Sioux Indian boys as they were dressed upon arrival at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania in 1879.  It was common to take "before" and "after" photos to show the public the civilizing effect of the boarding school on the children.  By the 1920's, the government changed its policies and Indian children were educated in local public schools.

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