America Compared Ch:3 Indian Societies Under Siege in the United States and Canada
America and Canada’s Approach to Dealing with Indian Societies. Around the late 1840’s Americans and Canadians began to push westward into new territory. Much of this unexplored land was inhabited by Native Indians who were not keen on the new white invaders on their land. American and Canadian westward migration led to much conflict with Native Indians. Pressure from U.S. and Canadian citizens caused their governments to take action in dealing with the native “problem.” The U.S. and Canada took different approaches to dealing with Native Indians. In 1851 the U.S. Congress designated areas of land which is modern day Oklahoma for the Indians to be relocated to so that they would be isolated form the rest of the U.S. population. Of course Indians were not happy about being kicked off the land they had lived on for generations and be forced to relocate to a new land. The Tribes resisted and were met with violence from U.S. soldiers which lasted close to three decades. Canada also sought to distance themselves from the Indian people but went about things in a much more peaceful manner then America. They did not organize a military force to relocate and enforce the Indians. They relied on the North West Mounted Police to maintain peace with the Indians. Canada also had a less prejudice view of two mixed-race groups such as the French-Indian Métis and the English-Scots-Indian then Americans.
Education as a Tool to change the Indians Attempts at educating the Indians were challenging. Indian students were often taken away on tribal hunting gathering trips for months at a time. The Indians were also displeased with the white peoples attempts to “Christianize” them as well as deeming their tribal practices as hedonistic. The schools would often make the children wear western style clothing and cut their hair. Many of these schools also forced labor onto the Indians which teachers claimed to be vocational instruction. The majority of Indians ignored the attempts by the white people to change them and would use annual rituals such as the sun dance as a way to instruct the children in their traditional tribal customs and beliefs. By the 1880’s Indians were no longer able to resist the western governments with military action. U.S. and Canadian government agents, missionaries, and teachers began to try and reform and “civilize” the Indian people. They tried to make them become farmers and force them to assimilate to western culture to become absorbed into American and Canadian society. Yet in America Indians were forced to be isolated from the American population and stay on the reservations. Education was seen as the best method to merge the Indian population into society and essentially the tool to erase Indian cultural identity. Tulalip Indian school. Indian children are instructed to cut lumber and dress in western style clothing.
A Culture not easily Broken. American authorities were well agreed that all teaching materials for the Indians should be prepared in English, they believed that, “If Indian children are to be civilized they must learn the language of civilization.” Although at the same time while the authorities claimed that these teachings were to help the Indians merge into American society they were still segregated and confined to the reservation lands. It was a man by the name of Richard A. Pratt, an army officer who in 1878 persuaded his military superiors to allow him to teach the Indian prisoners how to assimilate into the white mans world through a different approach then previously tried. He first transferred the Indians to a school for young blacks in Virginia called the Hampton Institute and by November 1879 he founded the Carlisle Indian School. He placed these students in white homes and businesses with the goal of them acquiring enough education and training to have no need to return to reservation life. The two schools, Carlisle Indian School and Hampton institute took the lead in trying to educate young people from the Sioux, Omaha, and Winnebago tribes but met little success. The Indians strong ties to their culture and the little to no acceptance by the white population left for little chance of success for these programs. Often the students of these schools would return to their tribes and use the knowledge they learned in the schools to try and help communities retain tribal customs and property. Carlisle Indian School students Captain Richard Pratt