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Assimilation Not Elimination-Part two

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If you've read Part One, the question becomes, what next?or, where do we go from here? It's impossible to change the past, but it is possible to make changes in the future to make clear what steps are necessary if we are to undo the painful and shameful legacy of the boarding school system. Again, by the 1930s the mind-control model that began in 1878 at the Carlisle Indian School was dying out as off-reservation boarding schools were closed, but boarding schools on reservations were still attended by many American Indian children. Although many of these schools dropped the Carlisle characteristics, more than a few still retained an authoritarian structure and the goal of civilizing their students.[1]

In 1973, the Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA] operated 200 schools in 17 states. 60,000 children were in boarding schools. Today, there are 11,500 American Indian children living in an Indian boarding school dormitory in one of 56 boarding schools, 14 peripheral dormitories or seven off-reservation Indian Boarding Schools located in ND, SD, OK, CA and OR. About half of them accept children as young as six years old. Many of the children in these programs are high-needs children who come from stuggling families. Indian boarding schools today are often seen as the place of last resort for these high-needs or at-risk children. While conditions at Indian boarding schools are much better today then they were a hundred years ago, these children often still suffer the effects of cultural abuse and institutionalization in under-staffed, under-funded, dormitories, often a long way from home.[2]

So, what are the necessary steps? 1] Always keep the boarding school experience in mind when interacting with American Indian parents. Respect the negative feelings that some have toward schools and teachers. Those feelings are legitimate. 2] Examine how the policy of assimilating Indians is still embedded in public school curricula today. What isn't being taught about American Indians in your local school that needs to be taught.3] Remedy the gaps in your own education. We can't teach information that we never learned. American Indian technologies and ideas were never taught in the public schools nor were they in boarding schools. 4] Understand that the indigenous knowledge of American Indians is relevant to modern life. What would life be like without corn, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, quinine and the number zero. 5] Get the word out about the accomplishments of American Indians in the areas of science, technology, agriculture, medicine and political science. 6] Teachers should start teaching American Indian intellectual history. 7] If you are not a teacher, copy this article and give it to one.[3]

The intellectual genius of Indigenous people throughout the pre-contact Americas is chronicled in the "Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World".[4] Fifteen thousand years of invention and innovation covers over 450 examples from Abacus to Zucchini. Indians of North, Central and South America were the first to cultivate seventy-five percent of the food varieties grown in the world today. Many medicinal drugs in current use were first discovered by Indian healers long before Europeans came to the Americas. The " Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World" is the first A to Z reference book that extensively details and documents the inventiveness of American Indians.

The Aboriginal Healing Foundation manages $377 million for healing programs for residential school survivors throughout Canada. See www.ahf.ca/. This web address will give you access to their three times a year newsletter, "healing words" which is available on-line. The fall 2004 issue is an impressive 40 pages that covers a multitude of concerns and issues. The Inuit edition includes articles on: Inuit Traditional Diet, Inuit Suicide Prevention, Inuit of Northern Quebec Incarceration, Inuit Games, A Nomadic Life - Between Two Worlds and Healing Our Spirit Worldwide 2006.[5] Will we ever make similar progress in the United States? The United States has had its share of sexual, physical and psychological abuse in trying to " kill the Indian, not the man".

[1], [3] American Indian Boarding Schools,www.kporterfield.com/aicttw/boardingschool.html
[2] Stephen Colmant, Ph.D. Feb. 17, 2007, Comment on "Assimilation Not Elimination" OpEdNews 2/16/2007
[4] American Indian Contributions to the World, www.kporterfield.com/aicttw/index.html
[5] The Aboriginal Healing Foundation, www.ahf.ca/

 

An OEN Editor. Born-03/20/1934, BA Pol. Sci.-U of Washington-1956, MBA-Seattle U-1970, Boeing-Program Control-1957-1971, State of Oregon-Mental Health Division-Deputy Admistrator-1971-1979, llinois Association of Community MH (more...)
 
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