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Indian Boarding School

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Indian Boarding Schools
Richard Pratt, who was the commander of American Buffalo soldiers, proposed that since the Americans had defeated the Indians and most of them were on the reservation, the best way to assimilate the Indians was to ensure that they acquire the American system of education. Influential whites supported his reasoning. The Carlisle school began in 1879 through the donations of the influential whites (Baker, 104). The main reasons for starting the boarding schools were to eliminate the Indian culture and replace it with mainstream American culture or the civilized American way of life. This was not what Pratt had advocated in his desire to start the schools. He wanted to make the Indians educated to limit their vulnerability to the translators who stole from them when they traded.
The Indians did not embrace this and the government had to force them to send their children to school (Baker, 105). The Indian children had to shave their hair and give up all their traditional clothing; this was the first step towards eliminating the Indian culture. This continued and the kids had to take English names at the expense of their native names and they were required not to even speak their native language. This was the last thing that they were to do but they were also required to abandon their native religion and become Christians (Baker, 105). This went well with their school teachings asserting that their culture was inferior and thus they should adopt the American culture. The Indian students suffered from physical, sexual, and mental abuse. In 1973, some of the schools hosting the Indian children were shut down.
Sitting Bull, who was the leader of the Indians in Teton Sioux adventure in his tribe’s fight with the Americans, suffered defeat after killing Custer who was an American General in the Buffalo war. Indian boarding schools started to portray his involvement in the war and how much the Americans wanted to eliminate the Indians of his kind. His warrior’s killing can justify the connection of the elimination of the Indian culture. On the other hand, Henry Ward Beecher showed his connection with the introduction of Indian boarding schools when he gave a sermon and stated that the Americans should repent for all their evils including their hostile treatment of the Indians. Sitting Bull was born in 1831 and his real name was Takanka-Iyotanka. He was the chief of the Lakota Nation, which was the home of the native owners of America. The Indians who were the true owners of America lived in this nation under this courageous leader who became a warrior at a tender age of 14 years. He guided the Indians to successful wars. The most notable war was the win over General Custer, who was an American (Fowler, 167). He believed that the Indians should occupy the Lakota and the Americans and other tribes and cultures should not exploit his nation. The belief that he fought for made him an enemy with the American government. Several days after the Indians win over General Custer’s army, the Americans invaded again, they lost the war, and with most of the warriors killed, most of the Indians were taken with reservation (Fowler, 167). The Indians on reservation began their education in the new Indian boarding schools as the Americans wanted to eliminate the Indian culture. Sitting Bull was against the education offered in these schools. Sitting Bull quoted that if the Great Spirit wanted him to be a white individual, he would have turned out to be one. The Great Spirit puts in an individual’s heart specific plans and wishes. Sitting Bull stated that his heart had different needs and every individual is good in the Great Spirit’s sight (Bailey). This quote proves the pain he had when he uttered them. It is clear to see that the American invasion in the Indians’ nation was more than he thought about. The Americans were on the verge to eliminate his beloved culture for no apparent reason. His hatred of the Whites and their actions were vivid for all to see and he seemed to be in confusion about the reason behind the actions of the Whites. The belief of the Whites of being superior to other races and tribes was turned by Sitting Bull in his claim that if the Great Spirits had desired him to be a white man then the spirits would make him to be. This showed that no one on this earth had the mandate to impose his culture on another from a different culture. He believed that all races were equal thus; the Indian children should not be forced to turn their backs on their culture in order to embrace the American culture. He believed that education was good, but if it was only for those who behaved like Americans, then it was not worth it (Fowler, 168). Indian boarding schools governed by Christian Americans forced the Indians to convert to Christianity against their will. The students were to disown their culture to include changing their native names, mode of clothing, language and to behave like Americans. Putting this into consideration, we are able to note that these practices led to the quote by Sitting Bull due to the sufferings his people were going through in these schools (Fowler, 168). Many Indians died and others were imprisoned for refusing to take their children to school.
Henry Ward Beecher was born in 1813. Many individuals recognized him as Lyman Beecher. He grew up in a Presbyterian family and thus he had a strong base of his Christian life. He got his education in Boston Latin and Amherst College. He became a preacher for the Presbyterian Church and he was a believer of using his faith to get rid of society sins and inequality. In his first ministerial position, he worked in Lawrence, Indiana, where most of the inhabitants were Indians (Applegate, 98). Through his preaching, he noted the discrimination the Indians were facing. He thus started to advocate for equality for all. In one of his sermons, he preached that the Americans should repent for their treatment of the Indians.
He was against slavery and he once bought the freedom of one slave who was an Indian. This proved how much he hated the slavery practice that was rampant in those days (Applegate, 98). In his fight to eradicate slavery and the introduction of Indian boarding schools, he once stated that, the country mostly depended on the common schools whereby every individual who passed through it is assimilated. He went on to state that in a situation whereby an ox is eaten by the lion, the ox becomes the lion, but the lion cannot be the ox (Clark). He was for equality and thus the segregation of the Indians in their own school was not good according to him. In his quote, it is clear to note that the type of learning was not purely out of good faith but it was after eliminating the Indian culture instead of offering knowledge. The use of the lion and the ox in his quote revealed how the Americans enforced their power to assimilate the weak (Applegate, 100). The schools were the bases where the Americans would impose their power to the innocent Indians with the aim of making them behave like Americans. Beecher noted that the student would change and become hostile just as others have been hostile to them.
It is clear to note that the introduction of the Indian boarding schools was to satisfy the selfish desires of a select group. The schools were not good in my point of view since the students faced a lot of torture, which was not of any importance for them to receive education. The closure of most of these types of schools in 1970s proves my argument. Currently the schools board of directors is composed of Indians to ensure that their culture in America is preserved. The authors of the two quotes namely Sitting Bull and Beecher, are justified in their arguments. Realistically, there is not even one race, tribe, or culture, which is superior to the other, and thus no one should discriminate the other.

Works Cited
Applegate, Debby. The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher. New York: Doubleday, 2006. 98-100.

Baker, Lee D. Anthropology, and the Racial Politics of Culture. Durham [NC: Duke University Press, 2010. 104-105.

Fowler, Loretta. The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Great Plains. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. 167-168.…...

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