INDIAN EDUCATION AND BOARDING SCHOOLS
This page will provide you with a brief history of
governmental polices on American Indian education, followed by short descriptions
and links to lesson plans on boarding schools that can be used by public school
teachers. Additional educational links on the American Indian for
K-12 teachers will be found under the CLASSROOM RESOURCES links below.
Historically, American Indian education policies
have been a weapon of isolation and assimilation used by the Western establishment
to destroy tribal sovereignty and Indian culture. By destroying tribal sovereignty
and Indian culture, these educational policies have been a part of other policies
that attempted, in essence, to destroy the individual American Indian. This
"civilizing" or "assimilation" process continued until 1926.
Many changes to the assimilation programs took place during the last years of
the 20s and early 30s. Franklin Delano Rooseveltís appointment of John Collier
as commissioner of Indian affairs in 1933 led to the Indian Reorganization Act
of 1934, and assimilation was no longer the official goal. However, this
change for the good was short lived. During the periods of 1940 through
the 1950's, the policy of assimilation once again became the norm. School
buildings deteriorated and schools were closed as funding for reservations was
cut back during World War II. Students were once more directed to attend
off-reservation boarding schools, as they had a half century before. "De-Indianizing
the Indian" was once more the policy.
During the 1960-1970's, organized Indian leadership
began to fight against assimilation, and caused the pendulum of educational policies
to once more slowly swing away from cultural genocide.
In 1965, the National Advisory Council on Indian
Education (NACIE) was formed -- a presidential appointed advisory council on Indian
education established under Section 9151 of Title IX of the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act of 1965, as amended (20 U.S.C. 7871). In 1968, The National
Council on Indian Opportunity (NCIO) was established to facilitate Indian
participation in U.S. government decision-making concerning Indian policy.
In 1969, Senate Report 91-501 -- commonly known as
the Kennedy Report -- was published by the Special Subcommittee on Indian Education,
Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. Titled "Indian education: A
national tragedy, a national challenge," it said: "the dominant policy
of the federal government toward the American Indian has been one of coercive
assimilation" and the policy "has had disastrous effects on the education
of Indian children."
The Office of Indian Education (OIE) was originally
created by Title IV of Public Law 92-318. The Act was commonly referred to as
the Indian Education Act of 1972, and is currently known as Part A, Title IX of
the Education Amendments of 1994 (Public Law 103-382). This legislation is unique
in that it is the only federal legislation that provides direct financial support
for the education of all American Indian and Native Alaskan students in public,
tribal, as well as Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) schools.
In 1995, the OIE was almost voted out of existence, with a budget of $1. Tribal
leaders and pan-Indian organization leaders traveled to Washington, lobbied Congress,
held prayer vigils in DC, and called press conferences to ensure continued funding.
LINKS TO THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN INDIAN BOARDING
Reservation Boarding School System in the United States, 1870-1929
This fourteen-page history by Sonja Keohane discusses the justification and rationalization,
day schools versus boarding schools, Carlisle Indian School and the systemís failure.
Links to other online sources of information are included at the end.
LESSON PLANS ABOUT THE BOARDING SCHOOL
Indian Boarding Schools: Civilizing the Indian Spirit
Ten lesson plans created by Niki Childress and Gayle Lawrence, American Memory
fellows with the Library of Congress, are posted on this site. The plans are suitable
for middle school students and include a teacherís guide and student pages. Online
resource materials include photographs, letters, reports, interviews and other
Assimilation Through Education: Boarding Schools in the Pacific Northwest
This self-study guide consists of a ten-page text with 24 historical photos from
the University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections. Footnotes and an extensive
bibliography are also included. The author, Carolyn J. Marr, has also written
study questions. The reading covers U.S. Indian education policy and draws examples
from schools in the Northwest. Marr reproduces a typical daily schedule for a
boarding school student. This lesson and the questions are appropriate for high
school and college students, but are a thought-provoking read for adults as well.
This brief lesson plan for secondary school students comes from The Evergreen
State College and the Northwest Indian Applied Research Institute. Although this
unit is not self-contained like those above, it sets forth good objectives for