Assimilation In Zitkala Sa's The Soft-Hearted Sioux

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Assimilation forces people to learn new cultures, which usually ends with a choose being made between which of the cultures to follow. Many Native Americans went through assimilation and were not accepted by the white man and even their own people. Zitkala Sa had a hard time maintaining both her culture and the new culture being taught to her. This is exhibited in her short story The Soft-Hearted Sioux where she used a boy to mask that the story relates to her and displayed the struggles the boy went through. The purpose of writing the short story is to teach people what assimilation does to Native Americans while she attempts to resist it through words. In the late 1800’s Native Americans were forced to assimilate because protestant white…show more content…
Attempting to completely get rid of their culture by teaching Native American children the “dominant” culture. Zitkala Sa decides to portray what happens to Native American when forced through assimilation by writing The Soft-Hearted Sioux. In The Soft-Hearted Sioux the boy was taught from a young age that his culture is savage and wrong while the white man’s culture is right. The boy testifies that “With the white man's Bible in my hand, and the white man's tender heart in my breast, I returned to my own people. Wearing a foreigner's dress, I walked, a stranger, into my father's village (1847).” Zitkala added this to exhibit what changes and how it feels going back home after going to missionary school. Many Native American felt as they were social outcast and unable to identity with neither culture. The boy pursued following the two faiths and did broke the laws of both the cultures. Zitkala Sa attempted to represent both in her life many times and everytime she went against the cultures in some way. Even though she wrote and spoke in English, in her stories, she told how assimilation is wrong and how it is not educating Native Americans. According to Jessica Enoch “While Zitkala was at Carlisle(a missionary school) she perceived that their missionary creed had more to do with self-preservation of white culture than educating Native American students (Zitkala Ša and the Carlisle Indian School).” Zitkala’s The Soft-Hearted Sioux displays the “self-preservation” that is taught to Native Americans instead of giving them a proper education. The boy learns christianity, how to dress “white”, and that the Sioux culture is savage and missionary’s way of teaching is humaine. Zitkala tries to resist by making change. She sent these stories to the east so, they could know what the missionary schools are to the Sioux culture.

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