Boarding School Blues: Revisiting American Indian Educational Experiences

Boarding School Blues: Revisiting American Indian Educational Experiences

Boarding School Blues: Revisiting American Indian Educational Experiences

Boarding School Blues: Revisiting American Indian Educational Experiences

Excerpt

Among North American Indians, the boarding school system was a successful failure. The practice of removing Native American children from their homes, families, and communities and forcing them into an educational system designed to assimilate them into American and Canadian societies both succeeded and failed. The governments succeeded in providing some measure of academic, domestic, agricultural, and vocational education to First Nations children, but they failed to assimilate completely Indian children or entirely destroy the essence of their being Native peoples. Ironically, the American boarding school and Canadian residential school experience for many Native American children provided new skills in language, literature, mathematics, and history that strengthened their identities as Native Americans. Many children attending boarding schools returned home or moved to urban areas where they embraced their American Indian heritage in a heightened manner, communicating their strength in being the First Americans in ways that preserved Indian identity. Thus the very system that non-Indians had established to "Kill the Indian in him and save the man" provided Indian students with the experience and expertise to "turn the power." Students used the potentially negative experience to produce a positive result—the preservation of Indian identity, cultures, communities, languages, and peoples. For many Native Americans, the initial exposure to boarding schools gave them the blues, and the illness and death of so many children left their mark on the hearts and minds of Indian people from the outset. Still, the American Indian boarding school experience also . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.