Federal Fathers & Mothers: A Social History of the United States Indian Service, 1869-1933

By Cathleen D. Cahill | Go to book overview

8
A Nineteenth-Century Agency
in a Twentieth-Century Age

At the turn of the century, policy makers and others concerned with Indian affairs took stock of their progress. The tensions we saw in the last several chapters—the reality of Indian Service personnel who worked at a distance from, at cross purposes with, or even in opposition to the policies formulated in Washington, D.C.—were increasingly drawing notice at the national level. This, combined with widespread Indigenous resistance to cultural assimilation, led to a period of “great confusion in Indian Affairs.”1

Some observers of Indian policy believed that it offered a successful model for the nation’s other dependent populations. After the Spanish-American War, for instance, the Board of Indian Commissioners (BIC) recommended that the Indian Service could serve as an example for the administration of the Philippines and Cuba. A few years later in 1904, the Lake Mohonk Conference changed its name to the “Lake Mohonk Conference for the Friends of the Indian and other Dependent Peoples” and expanded its discussions to include the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. dependencies. The Philippine Service did resemble the Indian Service in some ways.2 Consisting of a large teaching force, it was composed of both women and men, many of whom were married couples. Some of the personnel had in fact transferred to it from the Indian Service. For example, after serving for four years as the superintendent of the Hoopa Valley Indian School, William B. Freer transferred to the Philippines as the assistant superintendent of public instruction; former field matron May Faurote also transferred there.3 In her memoir, Indian Service teacher Minnie Braithwaite described both her own desire to transfer to the Philippine Service and instances in which fellow employees made the move.4

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