[LMB] OT: Anne with an "E"

Beatrice Otter beatrice_otter at zoho.com
Sun Apr 26 20:28:17 BST 2020

---- On Sun, 26 Apr 2020 10:35:35 -0700 Eric Oppen <ravenclaweric at gmail.com> wrote ----

My father remembered playing basketball against the team from the Pipestone
Indian School; he said they were pretty good players.

My own take on those schools is that there were no good choices.  The
tribes' traditional lifestyles were over---they couldn't live like that any
more.  The government wanted the natives to become part of the bigger
culture, and that meant (among other things) learning English (or French,
in some parts of Canada) and obtaining skills that were not obtainable in a
traditional setting.

Like it or not, the optimal time to pick up a foreign language is when
you're young.  My father wished that his family had spoken Norwegian (all
his older relatives were fluent) at home, so he could have picked it up

And sometimes the acculturation to the wider culture worked.  I don't know
if Charles Curtis went to one of those schools, but he did well enough---in
Congress for many years, VPOTUS to Herbert Hoover (and if it hadn't been
for the Depression, he might have ended up as our first Native POTUS)
despite having been born into a Native tribe and having Kaw be his birth

Beatrice Otter:

The tribes' traditional lifestyles were over *because white people had destroyed them*.  And saying that the goal of the schools was to make Native peoples part of the bigger culture is, um, an *extremely* generous way of looking at it.  The explicit goal of the policies, the slogan they used to explain their mission, was "kill the Indian and save the man."  They believed--and openly stated!--that White culture was superior and that the best thing for Native peoples was to destroy their culture and replace it with White culture.  Everything had to go.  Language, food, culture, clothes, religion--it was all bad and inferior.  If all they wanted was to teach English and vocational training and such so that the Native Americans could get jobs in White society if they wanted, it would have been much cheaper and easier to build day schools on the reservation.  The whole point of building RESIDENTIAL schools and forcibly removing children from their families and sending them far away was to break the connections they had with their own families and anything that connected them to their culture.  They didn't want to give Native people the tools and skills to adapt to white culture; they wanted to destroy Native cultures so that only white culture was left.  This is *what the people doing it said at the time*.  Putting their actions and words in the best possible light, it was an active (and fairly successful) attempt to destroy Native American culture and heritage.

And the methods were fairly cruel.  Anything, after all, can be justified if you are saving someone from themselves.  Any manifestation of their own culture was harshly punished.  Any words or actions that weren't "white" enough was harshly punished.  The amount of trauma and PTSD that they caused is staggering, and of course trauma is generational.  Someone who has severe PTSD, especially without psychiatric support, is probably going to have enough psychological issues that they will not be very good parents.  Which then becomes the reason for ANOTHER generation of Native children to be removed from their families "for their own good."

About a decade ago, it came out that South Dakota was funding a large portion of their social services department through this sort of chicanerie.  They would go onto the reservations looking for an excuse to remove children--poverty would do, if they couldn't find anything else--which would then be placed with white families, despite the law which says such children should be placed with Native foster families.  Then, when the children started acting out because they were in a strange place living with people who they didn't trust and who had basically kidnapped them, the children got labelled as having "special needs" and "learning disabilities" and such.  States, by the way, get money from the federal government when they have kids in foster care with special needs.  However, the money wasn't spent on the Native kids, it was diverted to fund other things.

Beatrice Otter

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