Indian Boarding School

Boarding schools are academic institutions where pupils live within the schools. The schools provide dormitories to students who stay in the school for the entire term. The students thus visited their families during the school holidays and returned to their boarding life once the schools opened. Boarding schools came into existence with the intent to take students through a streamlined form of learning. Boarding thus allowed teachers to monitor and guide students throughout. Efforts to Americanize the Native Americans saw the introduction of education. The introduction of Indian Boarding schools to Native Americans was “to detribalize Native American children and lead to their Americanization. However, there were several well-known critics of the boarding schools. Henry Ward Beecher and Sitting Bull (Teton Sioux) heavily criticized boarding schools.
Henry Ward Beecher and Sitting Bull were strong critics of boarding schools. The two authors were against the separation of children from their families in search of an education. Specifically, the two authors were against the idea of using education to Americanize the children. The establishment of the Carlisle Indian School, for instance, was to eliminate the indicant culture that was perceived to be incompatible with the modern world. According to Townsend, the Indian culture was “a worthless relic from an earlier stage of development that must be destroyed”(375). In short, the establishment of the boarding schools was to destroy the natives, language, religion, customs and beliefs.
Sitting Bull was a Native American chief who organized the Sioux tries to fight for their survival against government policies. Sitting Bull was recognized as the defender of his people and is renowned for fighting off the American government especially when it came to matters of land. Sitting Bull’s life was spent mainly fighting off the American government a factor that would have contributed to their strong stand against boarding schools. On the other hand, Henry Ward Beecher was recognized as a civil leader and social reformer thus his hard stand against the introduction of boarding schools is part of his works as a civil leader and social reformer.
Henry Ward Beecher’s quote is a demonstration that schools strive to unify people but it is not a guarantee that the outcome is the same. Henry indicates “when a lion eats an ox, the lion does not become an ox, but the ox becomes the lion” (Clarke). The statement means that efforts to assimilate individuals into a single unifying identity do not always yield the intended results. When the schools are introduced to natives, the natives do not necessarily change. There is higher chance that the natives may instead influence the school to adopt its ways. Sitting Bull’s quote acknowledges that people and different and thus the need to appreciate the differences as it is what makes people unique. Sitting Bull further indicates “it is not necessary that Eagles should be crows” (Bailey). Sitting Bull’s statements means that people do not have to be the same thus there is no need to strive to change each other and fit a specific specification.
The words in the quotes by Sitting Bull and Henry Ward relate directly to the children in the boarding schools. The reformers introduced schools among the Native Americans. Townsend indicates “we are going to conquer the Indians by a standing army of school teachers, armed with ideas… and the gospel of work (Townsend, 375)”. The statement gives a clear indication of the reformers intent to neutralize the Native Americans and change them. However, Beecher’s words “when a lion eats an ox, the lion does not become an ox, but the ox becomes the lion” are an ideal example of the unsuccessful efforts of the reformers. The reformers introduced their school and forced Native American families to take their children there. However, the schools were near the villages thus the parents were still able to remain in touch with their children. Subsequently, the children retained their Indian identity even as the school curriculum strived to mute those efforts.
When Carlisle Indian School was established, Native Americans children were physically removed from their Indian community. The children changed their names to English names; they were forced to shave their hair and abandon their traditional Indian clothes. However, despite the removal of everything that associated and reminded them of the heritage, the children still retained a longing for the familiar and family. Plenty ****, aka Luther Standing, is an example of a Native American that was removed from his home and taken to boarding school. Luther grew, but his longing for his culture remained. He, however, learned the English language and even worked as a teacher, clerk, and actor. It is easy to assume that Luther had been Americanized successfully. However, in adulthood, his desire to preserve his culture remained, and he strived to perverse Oglala culture through literature (Townsend, 378). Luther wrote several books about his culture and also was an active member of the league op justice to the American Indians. The lion (boarding school) ate the ox (students such as Luther), but the Ox became the Lion (retained their culture even amidst intense Americanization).
Sitting Bull’s quote also relates directly to the experiences of the children in boarding schools. The reformers felt that their effort to introduce boarding school education was a way of saving the Indians. The reformers saw the Native American culture as backward thus their intent to change them through their children. The native families were resistant to the forceful education of their children and in most cases; the reformers had to be accompanied by the police. Sitting Bull states “if the Great Spirit had wished me to a white man, he would have made me so” (Bailey). The quote highlights the perception of the Native Americans of the boarding schools that were introduced. The reformers had made it clear that their intent was to
Americanize the Native American child. According to Townsend, “shock swept over Indian youngsters new to Carlisle as their identity was stripped away (Townsend, 376)”. The boys were asked to shave their heads while speaking the native language was prohibited. Children found speaking the native language were punished. It is obvious that the reformers had the intent to eliminate the Native American culture. Sitting Bull advocates for the appreciation of the differences in lifestyle, beliefs, and practices. According to Sitting Bull, if the Great Spirit wanted the Native Americans to be white, he would have created them so. Sitting Bull indicates that it was the Great Spirit’s choice to create the world full of diverse people rather than the world that has homogenous people. Sitting Bull further indicates “It is not necessary that Eagles should be crows” (Bailey). Sitting Bull statement indicates that there is no need to work towards changing people to fit a specific specification. According to Sitting Bull, “Eagles can be eagles and crows can be crows”(Bailey). The reformers did not have to strive to change the Native Americans through their boarding schools. Native Americans can be Native Americans with their unique culture while the American culture can still thrive as its own. The boarding schools were, therefore, unfair and unnecessary as they were established with the intent to Americanize the Native American children. If the reformers had good intent, they would have introduced the Native Americans to education without forcing them to drop their beliefs and practices.
In conclusion, the Indian Boarding schools were not introduced with good intent for the Native Americans. The Indian Boarding schools were introduced with the sole purpose of Americanizing the children of the Native Americans. The reformers intended to make the Native American children forget their culture and embrace the American lifestyle. However, quotes from Sitting Bull and Henry Ward prove that the reformers efforts were fruitless. Efforts to end the Native American culture were fruitless as most students such as Luther Standing Bear went back to writing literature about their Native American culture. The determination by the reformers to change the Native Americans ignited the desire to protect and preserve the culture thus the rise of writers on the American culture.

Work Cited
Townsend, K. & Nichols, M. (2012). First Americans: A history of native people.

Bailey, J.: Article on Sitting Bull.

Clarke, C.: Article on Henry Ward Beecher.

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in cheap term papers if you need a similar paper you can place your order from top research paper writing companies.

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