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Thread: Native American Racism: Astoria exhibit reveals cruel ‘hidden history’

  1. #1
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    Default Native American Racism: Astoria exhibit reveals cruel ‘hidden history’

    The fellow who planted the seed for this exhibit is an old friend. Member of a local tribe --

    Boarding schools’ role in attempts to ‘civilize’ Native American children explored


    “We know what happened, what kept happening,” a reporter wrote in 1915 after a visit to the Chemawa Indian School in Salem. “We took their lands, we enslaved their women -- Oh, well, let’s forget that and remember that now for many years our Government has been meting out full justice to our red brothers and sisters.”

    This sentiment was progress, of a sort. An acknowledgement that the United States government’s 19th-century Indian policy, celebrated for years in popular culture, was racist and brutal.

    But the “full justice” -- meaning the Indian boarding schools like Chemawa that were meant to “civilize” Native Americans -- was anything but.

    Starting in the late 1800s, social reformers posited that the so-called “Indian Problem” could be solved only through immersive assimilation. In practice, that ended up meaning removing Native American children from their communities and sending them to far-off boarding schools, where they were stripped of their language and culture, as well as blocked from almost all contact with relatives -- including their parents.


    Children praying before bedtime at Phoenix Indian School, June 1900. Most Indian boarding schools were run by Christian denominations. (Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.)Courtesy of National Archives


    How this “experiment in education” actually played out is the subject of the exhibit “Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories,” which opened this week at the Heritage Museum in Astoria. The exhibit, presented by the Clatsop County Historical Society, is a follow-up to one that debuted at Phoenix’s Heard Museum.

    “This is a hidden chapter in American history,” Heard Museum curator Janet Cantley writes of “Away from Home.” She adds: “It is our shared history.”

    By the end of the 19th century, smallpox and other deadly diseases introduced from Europe, along with decades of war with the U.S. Army, had decimated the Native population. The government had forcibly relocated most of the remaining 250,000 Native Americans in the country to remote reservations, where their ability to thrive was severely constrained.

    The only humane thing to do, the government ultimately decided, was to provide Native American children with a Christian education so they could join the wider society.

    Richard Henry Pratt, the Army officer who founded the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, put the prevailing philosophy succinctly: “kill the Indian, save the man.”



    Jessie Tarbox Beals, Fort Shaw girls’ basketball team, 1904. Indian boarding schools often focused on sports. (Courtesy of Missouri Historical Society)Courtesy of Missouri Historical


    More than 140 years after Carlisle’s founding, “Away from Home” flips the perspective from that of the Army officers and Christian denominations in charge of the boarding schools, which dominated journalistic and government accounts for decades, to those of the students.

    This “federal policy of forced assimilation was a war waged on children,” states the exhibit.

    Robert Kentta, the cultural-resources director for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon, points out that the boarding-school approach was in a very real sense a continuation of the government’s war policy.

    “Instead of open physical fighting and warfare, it began a series of battles of will -- the removal of Indian children from their homes and attempting to erase their identities,” Kentta told The Oregonian/OregonLive. “Parents had no power to stop those removals, and children were held like prisoners, tracked down, and punished [and] returned if they ran away.”


    https://www.oregonlive.com/history/2...-children.html
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
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    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Native American Racism: Astoria exhibit reveals cruel ‘hidden history’

    Much the same thing happened here, and still happens on a smaller scale.
    ​In a world full of wonders, man invented boredom.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Native American Racism: Astoria exhibit reveals cruel ‘hidden history’

    Canadian film about the residential school experience on the prairies "Where the Spirit Lives " from 1989 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aW4tzklTLQ

    On the flipside when young white kids were taken from their families by Indian raids in the 18th & 19th centuries they were also immersed in another culture and language in a sink or swim situation basically to increase numbers of the tribe .Not exactly the same thing as residential schools but shows a certain universality of complete re-programming to benefit the group. For a current example China and the Uighurs comes to mind and I'm sure there are plenty of others .
    Nature is the result of human caused extinctions

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Native American Racism: Astoria exhibit reveals cruel ‘hidden history’

    I had never heard about residential schools. I was raised in SE Ontario near the Akwesasne reserve. When I started hearing about residential schools I had moved to NS and taken up my career. I later learned that residential schools were in effect only after I had left school. It's not ancient history, or even my grandparent's history, it is mine.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Native American Racism: Astoria exhibit reveals cruel ‘hidden history’

    There are the remains of one such "Indian School" at Spanish, Ontario, a two or three story stone building which one must pass when launching a boat in the North Channel. Spanish and Little Current are two popular launch points for a North Channel cruise in a trailerable boat.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Native American Racism: Astoria exhibit reveals cruel ‘hidden history’

    A former coworker of mine, and many other older Native Americans I have worked with over the years attended an Indian school here. These were boarding schools, so they were “captive audiences”. Native languages and traditional beliefs were not allowed. They were workers and labor as much as students, perhaps even more so. While treatment did evolve somewhat, it remained a tough row to hoe for Native kids, well into the 50s and beyond. I think it closed in the 1980s.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Native American Racism: Astoria exhibit reveals cruel ‘hidden history’

    My Great Grandfather went through that. I can see why he never spoke of it.
    "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito"

    -Dalai Lama

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Native American Racism: Astoria exhibit reveals cruel ‘hidden history’

    And, we still treat the Missions here like some sacred buildings.

    Barf.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Native American Racism: Astoria exhibit reveals cruel ‘hidden history’

    On the opposite end of that terrible time, we now have a school that is only for Native American students. It is operated by the Cherokee Nation. It offers resident housing but it is not required. It actually teaches heritage and culture. The elementary school is an immersion school that teaches the Cherokee language to the elementary students.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Native American Racism: Astoria exhibit reveals cruel ‘hidden history’

    https://nonprofitquarterly.org/st-jo...no-wrongdoing/

    More than passingly familiar with these folks, and know many of those currently running the place.
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

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