Steven Newcomb: Brutality at boarding 'schools'
"A statement made in 1882 by Hiram Price, then U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, may be taken as representative of the kind of thinking that went into U.S. Indian policy in the area of “education.” In his annual report, Price declared that certain white men and women had “gone among the Indians. … for the higher and nobler purpose of helping these untutored and uncivilized people to a higher plane of existence.”

Regular educational and missionary work among the Indians was the key, said Price: “In no other manner and by no other means, in my judgment, can our Indian population be so speedily and permanently reclaimed from the barbarism, idolatry, and savage life, as by the educational and missionary operations of the Christian people of our country.”

In keeping with the above thinking, Indian residential “schools” were established by the U.S. government. (I use quotation marks around the word “schools” because it seems strange to use such a positive-sounding term to refer to those institutions).

Thousands of Indian children were subjected to indoctrination and humiliation in those “schools,” and this enforced institutionalization of Indian children was designed to mould them into a form designed to match the white peoples’ idealized mental image of what Indian people ought to be, and how they ought to live. The often dehumanizing and terrible conditions found in these “schools” continued from the late 19th century to at least the 1970s."

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: Boarding ‘school’ brutality (Indian Country Today 4/6)

Related Stories:
Newcomb: Dehumanization in Indian law and policy (3/13)
Steven Newcomb: How not to fix U.S. Indian policy (12/30)
Steven Newcomb: Free and independent 'savages' (12/15)

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