Michigan Native American Boarding Schools

Michigan Native American Boarding Schools

Heather Gregg

            The Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School was founded in 1893 and this was home to seventeen students during the first year of this schools grand opening. These schools have tried to make Native American Students forget their culture and are forced to assimilate to the “White man’s ways” such as the language, education, and forcing Native Americans to follow Christianity (Man recalls time at Native American school in 1920s, 2008).  Even though many Native American families did not want to send their children to these schools some thought that this was only for their children to not have to go through the struggles, heartaches, and issues these families had to face. Most of these families are constantly struggling to stay out of poverty, feeding their children, living in horrible conditions, and these boarding schools promised these children a better life (Native American History and Culture: Boarding Schools- American Indian Relief Council…, year unknown).

Some of these Native American children were forced out of their homes and were not allowed to practice many of their cultural practices.  Some of these cultural practices were making their own clothes from animal skins, fishing, practicing their language, and making medicinal herbs.  Many of the students in these schools were physically, sexually, and emotionally abused (Man recalls time at Native American school in 1920s, 2008).  For example, if students tried to speak their language these students were beaten with a whip or one student state that “ their mouths were washed out with soap” (Survivors of Indian boarding schools tell their stories, unknown).  Many students stated that these teachers would show preference to those that were lighter skinned as one student states “the darker you were, the worst you were treated” (Survivors of Indian boarding schools tell their stories, unknown).

If the students were treated well in the school that usually meant those were the students that were being sexually abused by the teachers, nuns, and staff.  Native American culture has been dwindling because of these boarding schools. Many of the students that were forced to attend these schools are unable to remember their culture because these students were too traumatized because of their horrible experiences in these schools (Traditional Indian Education, 2011).

 

Primary Sources:

Man Recalls Time at Indian School

Krampton, John.  2008.  Man recalls time at Indian School in 1920s.  The Morning Sun.  http://www.themorningsun.com/20080804/man-recalls-time-at-indian-school-in-1920s

An act granting certain property to the State of Michigan.  Lib. Congress session 2 Chapter 15. U.S. gov. web http://www.loc.gov/law/help/statutes-at-large/73rd-congress/session-2/c73s2ch15.pdf

This is a testimonial from one of the students that attended the Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School.  These schools were made to convert Native Americans to follow white culture.  Carole Tally states” They just came in and took the kids.”  Back then white people would force the native american children to go to the boarding school and take them far away from their homes.  Many of these schools were used to take away the “Indian within the child” many people would say.  Even though the boarding schools had terrible conditions however, many of these Native American students came from very poor families that couldn’t afford food, clothing, or shelter.  This primary resource is used to share the experiences that many Native American children had while living in these boarding schools.

 

An act granting certain property to the state of Michigan

An act granting certain property to the State of Michigan.  Lib. Congress session 2 Chapter 15. U.S. gov. web http://www.loc.gov/law/help/statutes-at-large/73rd-congress/session-2/c73s2ch15.pdf

This is a government document that the state of Michigan is giving Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School land in order to institute that this school was allowed to be there in Mount Pleasant.  The purpose of this document is to establish proof that this school was here and that these events did take place.

Secondary Sources:

Native American History and Culture: Boarding Schools – American Indian Relief Council is now             Northern Plains Reservation Aid, www.nativepartnership.org/site/PageServer?            pagename=airc_hist_boardingschools. Accessed March 13, 2018.

Survivors of Indian boarding schools tell their stories.” WKAR, wkar.org/post/survivors-indian-     boarding-schools-tell-their-stories#stream/0.  Accessed March 13, 2018.

“Traditional Indian Education” Central Michigan University.  2011,             https://www.cmich.edu/library/clarke/ResearchResources/Native_American_Material/             Treaty_Rights/Contemporary_I ssues/Federal_Education_Policy/Pages/ default.aspx, Accessed             March 13,2018.

 

 

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