Native Americans - Week 6 - Boarding School Essay.docx -...

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Boarding School Essay: EFFORTS TO ASSIMILATE NATIVE AMERICANS With assimilation being the primary purpose, the United States federal government systematically stripped away the tribal culture of Native American youth in an effort to Americanize the "savages" and rid themselves of their "Indian problem." In mandated Indian Boarding Schools throughout the nation, academics, vocational training, and discipline would be tools used to indoctrinate Native youth to accept European belief and value systems, as previous methods had failed to assimilate their parents. Designed to eradicate Native American culture and beliefs, boarding schools provided an academic education through reading, writing, science, history, and the arts. Native youth would be taught Christianity, the English language, political structure, civic duties, and founding principles of the United States to expose Native students to middle-class white American values (Townsend). In boarding schools in the east, such as the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, founded by Richard Henry Pratt, in addition to rudimentary academics, students struggled with curriculums devised to teach gender-specific vocational skills and training. Reformers like Pratt not only believed that his methods would prepare students to be self-sufficient once graduated, but that by immersing a child in American culture, all vestiges of their Native culture would cease to exist. That cultural beliefs and traditions, not the individual self, were why Natives could not coexist with white Americans. To expedite the abandonment of their traditional languages, cultures, and practices, students could no longer use their birth name, were forbidden from speaking their native tongue, the boys were given haircuts, and their traditional clothing discarded (Townsend). Although the

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