Aug 27, 2019 in Education

Books Analysis 

Eagle, A.F. (2012). Pipestone: My life in an Indian boarding school. Oklahoma, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

In his book, Adam Eagle, a man of eighty, recalls his experience at Pipestone Indian Boarding School during his childhood, between 1935 and 1945. The school was located in Minnesota and made unforgettable impressions on him. The author narrates his story without chapters in the present tense. It was the time of profound changes in the policy for Indians in an attempt to assimilate them to the American lifestyle. Eagle states that although not all boarding schools were bad, many of them did a lot of harm to Indian children and their families. During those years, in spite of many hardships, liberal policies were directed at preserving the tribal culture and sovereignty. Moreover, it was “a golden age” for Indian education; the Indians were able to preserve their ethnical trends in every-day school life. The author assumed that Indian boarding schools had the same standards as all other national schools and nobody put emphasis on their ethnical difference. However, due to federal laws, Indian students were discriminated more than any other ethnical group in the United States of America.

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Children, who attended the school, faced many challenges concerning their native culture and languages. Thus, students were prohibited to speak their tribal languages and wear specific clothes because they were supposed to assimilate to the American culture. According to regulations, Indian children had to go to church on Sundays under the direct supervision of their teachers. Moreover, they had to be bilingual and be good at English grammar and literature. As a result, the boarding school system has destroyed the native language, culture, traditions, and lifestyle of many students. Nevertheless, children who attended the Pipestone Indian Boarding School received considerable experience there because many of them later achieved honorable positions in life and business. Eagle concludes his stories with an epilog where he tells the life stories of his friends from school.

Miller, T.M. (2012). The Praeger handbook of veterans' health: History, challenges, issues, and developments. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC, CLIO, LLC.

The author states that male Indian children were forced to study in Indian boarding schools to become real men. Usually, an Indian policeman took boys from their families and sent them to off-reservation schools where they were supposed to study under the direct supervision of teachers who were mainly retired military officers. Miller assumes that although the era of such schools seems to have finished, the educational system of Indian boarding schools exists even nowadays in some areas. When an Indian policeman came to the family of a boy trying to forcibly take their child, parents and other family members often tried to resist, getting into fights that were often fatal. However, most Indian children were taken to boarding schools in spite of the resistance of their families. It occurred because of the government policy directed at assimilating Indian children into the American society. The history has shown that it continued for many years, and several generations of Indian children were forcibly sent to school.

Moreover, if the policeman who sent a child to a boarding school was an Indian, it spoiled the relationship between Indian families. As a result, they experienced hatred to each other that they could not overcome for years. When children arrived to a boarding school, supervisors totally changed their national appearance. For instance, their hair was cut, and they were not allowed to speak their national language. By doing so, the government contributed to the destruction of Indian languages, culture, and traditions. The author concludes that the Indian boarding school system was a means of killing Indian culture and having Indian children adapt to the American standards of life. It was a unique way of getting rid of the Native American culture, traditions, and languages in order to pursue European lifestyle. Therefore, Indian boarding school education system had a purpose to convert Indian children into modern Americans.

Stout, M. (2012). Native American boarding schools. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC, CLIO, LLC.

The author recalls President Washington’s statement that there would always be a line between the white people and the Cherokees. His opinion made a great impact on the position of Indians in the American society. Moreover, Indians should remember about their place in the native country. It is a sad story, but the reality encouraged Native students feel less comfortable in the classroom setting than their white peers. Stout mentions that Indian boarding schools were established to remove children from their historical territories and separate them from their families so that they would be better assimilated to the American culture. Children who were removed from their parents and familiar environments were taken under total supervision and severe control of the teachers. The reason for this control was the government desire to make Indian youth adapt to the American standards of life brought by Europeans. Supervisors tried to limit students’ contacts with their families and tribal community that could spoil them by their native traditions, habits, lifestyle, etc.

The book tells that the Indian children who attended boarding schools experienced malnourishment and physical abuse there. The educational system was directed to kill their national identity and create a new American identity according to which they were to forget about their ethnical roots. Admittedly, 10,000 native children were educated in boarding schools that were located in off-reservation areas. These circumstances encouraged Indian children to feel frustrated and unhappy in their school environment, but they did not have a chance to change their life. The author mentioned that some lessons such as arithmetic, writing, or spelling were taught by senior students because, due to limited financing, schools lacked teachers. Stout concluded that Indian boarding schools were commonly an unpleasant place for children where they were often physically and morally abused.

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