Sample English Paper on Native American Boarding Schools

Sample English Paper on Native American Boarding Schools

The historical relationship between the United States and American Indians is long and complex. Native Americans have often felt that they have been patronized by the U.S. culture. At the core of this patronization is the Native American boarding schools. The paper provides a historical summary on Native American Boarding Schools highlighting its purpose and history and provides a historical cause of problems that Native Americans continue to face today.

The Native American Boarding Schools started in 1860. The schools were a part of a well-intentioned plan developed by reformers Henry Pancoast and Herbert Welsh. Their primary purpose was to use education as a mechanism for assimilating the Indian tribes. These reformers believed that it was critical to “civilize” Indian population to make them agree to take the white`s values systems and beliefs (Marr). In this regard, boarding schools were seen as the best strategy to eliminate Native Americans and their ideologies. The leading priority for these boarding schools was to provide the basics of academic education: speaking in English, reading, and writing. The intention was to eliminate all forms of Indian culture.

By the 1880s, there were tens of boarding and day schools for Native Americans in the United States. However, the feeling was that the reservation day schools could not completely eliminate the Native Indian life from these students. As a result, the Native American Boarding Schools were seen as the best alternative for assimilating Native American youth. Consequently, from 1879, many of these schools such as Carlisle Indian School were set up. These boarding schools embarked on assaulting the Native cultural identity by eliminating all their Native American features that the students brought with them. Native Indian boys were shaved to get rid of their long braids. Additionally, they were baptized with “white” names such as Andrew Windyboy. It was believed that these names would help them in inheriting property. The Native students were banned from speaking in their native language, and many of the boarding schools penalized the students if they failed to speak in English. As Andrew Windyboy states, they were forced into the white culture and forced to forget their native language (Richie). Furthermore, the students were separated from their parents, loved ones, and culture at a tender age.

Much of the school day was spent on industrial training as opposed to academics. Native Indian girls were taught how to clean, cook, sew, take care of poultry and do laundry for the entire boarding school. On the other hand, boys learned skills such as farming, shoemaking, and blacksmithing. These boarding schools were expected to be as financially independent as possible. Consequently, the Native American students performed most of the work. Disciplinary procedures in these schools were severe, and they included corporal punishment and confinement. Additionally, the students were severely affected by diseases, such as trachoma, measles, pneumonia, and tuberculosis (Marr). Many of the native Americans who passed through this system were completely assimilated to the extent that they now have nothing from their culture that they can pass over to future generations (Bear).

In conclusion, the Native American Boarding Schools served as a strategy for assimilating American Indian children and train them as laborers. To a large extent, the level of training and education provided to Native American students prepared them for menial jobs. Accordingly, this explains why today young American Indians lack several generations of professionals, such as engineers and doctors to emulate. Indeed, many of the social problems that Native Americans face today are linked to the Native American Boarding Schools era.



Works Cited

Bear, Charla. “American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many”. NPR.Org, 2008,

Marr, Carolyn J. “Assimilation Through Education: Indian Boarding Schools in The Pacific Northwest”. Content.Lib.Washington.Edu, 2017,

Richie, Chip, director. “Our Spirits Don’t Speak English: Indian Boarding School”. Rich-Heape Films, 2008,