Native American Education In The 19th Century

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The issue of education for the Native Americans living in the West was such an important issue back in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that many white reformers pushed for a compulsory education for them. The schools where the Native Americans were forced into taught them everything they needed to know to become Americans culturally. Things such as rights, freedoms and the institutions that made America the country it was, were taught in class, but these schools also had another goal in mind, total erasure of their culture and complete assimilation of the tribes into American culture. This essay will tackle the motives of such reformers to push for the assimilation of the Native Americans by using their direct texts written…show more content…
They saw the Native Americans as problematic because of their culture, not because of their skin. While subtle, this key difference makes all of the difference. They saw the Native Americans as redeemable individuals that could be “cured” of their barbarism by adopting American customs as their own. It was seen as America’s mission to ensure that all of its citizens participate in institutions much like the white reformers did, as well as being guaranteed all the same rights and responsibilities that every other citizen of the United States was given. If it were really out of racist self-interest, these white reformers, who wrote about the education policies they wanted to implement, wouldn’t have written the way they did. They wrote to a white audience of reformers that agreed with these changes. They would have written about keeping the natives down as a people, just like the southern states did towards the African-Americans, but they did not. They instead preach that these people need to be assimilated for their own good. Thomas J. Morgan, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1889, said it best, “The Indians are destined to become absorbed into the national life, not as Indians, but as Americans”. With this kind of statement, it is clear that he is pushing for more inclusion of these tribes into the United States and not bring them down. The reformers wanted the tribes as cultural groups to be disbanded and for the natives among those tribes to consider themselves Americans first and
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