Native American Cultural Assimilation Essay

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Pages: 16

Native American Cultural Assimilation from the Colonial Period to the Progressive
October 2, 2011


Although the first European settlers in America could not have survived without their assistance, it was not long before the Native Americans were viewed as a problem population. They were an obstacle to the expansion plans of the colonial government and the same to the newly formed United States. The Native Americans were dealt with in various ways. During expansion some were outright exterminated through war while others forcibly made to relocate to lands deemed less than ideal. The idea was to make them vanish – out of sight, out of mind. Though their numbers in terms of population and tribal groups
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Hightower-Langston, Donna. Native American World. p. 365.
4. Conn, Steven. History’s Shadow. p. 3.
5. Garrison, Tim Alan. The Legal Ideology of Removal. p.7.
6. Ninkovich, Frank. Global Dawn. p. 185. policy in the last quarter of the century, new Indian policy would be to extinguish Native American cultures through an American-style education of the young. The thinking was, educate the Native American children to American culture to assimilate them and, for the time being, contend with the adults on reservations. The idea behind this was, after a few generations, the adults would die off and the new generations of American educated, assimilated “citizens” would survive, but not their old cultures and ways of life. The balance of this paper will focus on the assimilation through education policy.

“In 1794 the nation made its first Indian treaty specifically mentioning education, and many more treaties would contain similar offers and even demands for compulsory schooling of tribal children. In 1819 Congress provided a specific ‘civilization fund’ of $10,000 for the ‘uplift’ of Indians, and the assimilationist campaign continued to employ legislation, treaty making (until 1871), and other expedients to achieve its goals. Initially the United States government through its office/ Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), depended upon Christian missionary societies, but by the later nineteenth