Native American Boarding Schools Haunt Many

The same students four months later.From NPR Morning Edition by by Charla Bear Audio for this story will be available at approx. 9:00 a.m. ET Morning Edition, May 12, 2008>>read more.      For the government, it was a possible solution to the so-called Indian problem. For the tens of thousands of Indians who went to boarding schools, it’s largely remembered as a time of abuse and desecration of culture.     The government still operates a handful of off-reservation boarding schools, but funding is in decline. Now many Native Americans are fighting to keep the schools open.      ‘Kill the Indian … Save the Man’     The late performer and Indian activist Floyd Red Crow Westerman was haunted by his memories of boarding school. As a child, he left his reservation in South Dakota for the Wahpeton Indian Boarding School in North Dakota. Sixty years later, he still remembers watching his mother through the window as he left.      At first, he thought he was on the bus because his mother didn’t want him anymore. But then he noticed she was crying.      “It was hurting her, too. It was hurting me to see that,” Westerman says. “I’ll never forget. All the mothers were crying.”    Westerman spent the rest of his childhood in boarding schools far from his family and his Dakota tribe.       He went on to become an actor, an activist with the American Indian Movement and a songwriter.      He sang about his experiences growing up: “You put me in your boarding school, made me learn your white man rule, be a fool.”      The federal government began sending Native Americans to off-reservation boarding schools in the 1870s, when the United States was still at war with Indians.     An Army officer, Richard Pratt, founded the first of these schools. He based it on an education program he had developed in an Indian prison. He described his philosophy in a speech he gave in 1892.      “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one,” Pratt said. “In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

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One Response to “Native American Boarding Schools Haunt Many”

  1. donna nesset Says:

    I to went to wahepeton.In 1949- 58. i remeber u floyd. The beatings,mentel abuse,still haunts me to this day..i swore,i wasent gonna let them break me.dam near did. but im still here.when i see a wahepeton indian on tv. makes me proud. i tell people i went to school, with u. they dont really belive me. i just laugh,.the best days their was mrs horne,s class.maybe, its time for me quit running from my wahepeton experiance. time to get back on that bus. time to go home.. god, i cant imagen how many peoples lifes, did they screw up .just trying to civelize us.i still have a hard time comperhending. what happen to me.

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