Colonial Instillations in American Indian Boarding School Students

By Robbins, Rockey; Colmant, Steven et al. | Educational Foundations, Summer-Fall 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Colonial Instillations in American Indian Boarding School Students


Robbins, Rockey, Colmant, Steven, Dorton, Julie, Schultz, Lahoma Colmant, Yevette, Ciali, Peter, Educational Foundations


There is a general knowledge about the United States governments' deliberate attempts to destroy American Indian cultures. Our history books tell of American Indian students being locked in week long routines to keep them out of mischief, underfed to break down resistance and being given deadening rounds of simple, repetitious chores bereft of challenges to numb their intelligence, and taught dominant western values and language (Brave Heart & De Bruyn (1998). Possibly, too few people are aware that assimilation of American Indians continues in our country today in multitudinous forms, including Indian boarding school residential environments. The assimilation of American Indians entails the replacement of tribal sets of beliefs and actions directly linked to the beliefs of distinct tribal groups with Western sets of beliefs and actions (Brayboy, 2005).

Currently there are 72 Indian boarding schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, serving over 10,000 students in the United States (Bureau of Indian Affairs, 2003). The few educational and psychological articles suggest that many Indian boarding schools have and do engage in assimilating students into mainstream culture at the expense of tribal values. In a national survey by Robinson-Zanatir and Majel-Dixon (1996), 234 American Indian parents representing fifty-five tribes reported that they felt that tribal schools valued Indian children more than Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) boarding schools and public schools in the areas of: respect, expectations of achievement, and degree to which Indian culture is valued. In narrative comments, participants stressed that boarding schools have not tried to understand Indian communities, culture or learning styles. Lacroix (1994) reported that American Indian girls attending Indian boarding schools related that they suffer from loss of cultural identity and experience their schools as "imposed" systems. Noted historian Joel Spring (2001) decries Anglo-American racism in Indian boarding schools which insidiously replaces tribal cultures with dominant culture. He sites religious intolerance as being particularly prevalent in Indian boarding schools.

There is anecdotal support suggesting that American Indian boarding school attendance may be associated with psychological dysfunction among some students. Counseling American Indian clients in British Colombia, Charles Brasfield (2001) identified a common symptomology among survivors of Indian residential schools, which he calls "residential school syndrome." The effects include: distressing recollections, recurrent distressing dreams of residential school, a sense of reliving the residential experiences, distress at exposure to cues that resemble residential experiences, avoidance of stimuli associated with residential experience, inability to recall important aspects of residential experience, diminished interest in participating in tribal activities, restrictive range of affect, feelings of detachment, increased arousal particularly when intoxicated, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, and exaggerated startle response. Symptoms may include deficient knowledge of tribal culture, deficient parenting skills and a tendency to abuse alcohol and drugs.

This study attempts to take into account the interplay of inner psychic conflicts of American Indian boarding school students in Indian boarding school environments; interactions between aspects of the school environment; the broader environment, such as the government and /or the media; and cultural and political beliefs complex process of assimilation that occurs in Indian boarding school residential settings (Bronfenbrenner's ecological model, 1979). There are several elements in this study that mark it as unique. (1) It focuses on boarding school residential practices rather than academic educational practices. (2) It also accepts the risk of attempting to analyze inter-psychic conflicts in the context of cultural, political and social contexts.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Colonial Instillations in American Indian Boarding School Students
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?