Profile for C. P.


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Native Americans in General
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Member # 7128
Profile #130
quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

For the record, my great-great-grandfather was taken from his tribe as a boy in order to wipe out his culture. It worked. I don't even know which tribe he was from. My mom and I think that he was born in or near Texas, because he lived there for the rest of his life, but we have no further information.
And that's exactly the situation of a great, great number of native americans today, as well as mostly-white people who feel some connection to their native heritage, like, evidently, you and I (Same deal, great-great-grandfather, don't even know his tribe.) When trying to learn about their people, frequently they have to go to the writings of the same white anthropologists who, more often than not, participated in the destruction of the same culture they're now trying to rediscover.

And what can we do? Well, giving a damn is a good first step. Beyond that I can think of a couple of groups doing important things in that direction, such as Dine College in Navaho country: you might say it's the new indian school. Completely different from the boarding schools of course: Navaho professors and Navaho students, teaching both Navaho and English and a number of other relevant subjects, both to the modern life and the traditional heritage of its students. I have a friend who is a professor there. He went through the boarding school system. I haven't asked him much about it.

In a somewhat different direction, in my own area there are the Red Hawk Dancers, a group of native american performers living in New York City and dedicated to preserving, increasing awareness of, and hopefully stimulating a revival of the art/culture/spirituality of native peoples. I recently had the priveledge of performing with them in a play about precisely these issues: specifically about the boarding schools. Unfortunately, I gather that many of their performance gigs tend to play into stereotypes more than combatting them.

So, it's an uphill battle, but I propose that the only sure way to lose it is not to care.
Posts: 5 | Registered: Sunday, May 14 2006 07:00
Native Americans in General
Apprentice
Member # 7128
Profile #124
Brainwashing is a loaded term? Well, what would you prefer I called the process of abducting children from their homes and families, placing them in an insular location they are not allowed to leave, forbidding them to practice any of the customs of their own people or speak their own language (one common punishment was a sewing needle pushed through the tongue for anyone who spoke in a language other than english), and constantly drilled with various slogans and propaganda, with the explicit goal of making them hate everything that used to be their culture?
Posts: 5 | Registered: Sunday, May 14 2006 07:00
Native Americans in General
Apprentice
Member # 7128
Profile #118
The same thing applies to the Native American situation we've been talking about. Sure, things are better than they once were, but they got that way because people did something. I'm not trying to refute the idea of a natural cycle that tends to bring things back to equilibrium, but I must stress that people taking conscious action to affect the direction of things when they see a problem is not only part of that cycle but in fact the entire mechanism on which it works.

Knowledge of such a cycle is in no way justification for complacency. Take the Roman Empire, for example. They lasted a long time and left even more enduring legacies. One great reason for their success was the fact that they did not try to suppress the culture of the people they conquered: they built some buildings, imported some people and some gods, appropriated whatever they liked from the culture, charged their taxes and otherwise left it alone. They never took the assimilation or "digestion" approach that was behind the Indian Boarding School system.

The major reason the Romans fell was complacency. I'm neither an economist nor economic historian, but it seems arguable to me that the Roman Empire became, in its later years, essentially a service economy. The Roman Army as it was in the height of the Empire would have been basically undefeatable against any possible threat extant in Europe until the later Middle Ages, at least. However, complacency became so great that the discipline which was once their defining characteristic was no longer there.

To say nothing of all the lead they ingested.

And as to the charge that "Cultural Genocide" is a misappropriation of a very politically and emotionally charged term, I will say two things. First of all, they aren't my own words. Second, what would you call the systematic, government-sanctioned imprisonment, torture, and brainwashing of several successive entire generations of a people?

[ Friday, May 19, 2006 05:42: Message edited by: C. P. ]
Posts: 5 | Registered: Sunday, May 14 2006 07:00
Native Americans in General
Apprentice
Member # 7128
Profile #109
quote:
Originally written by too kraut, don't read:
Where is the link?[/QB]
Ack, did I forget to post it? Weird. Here's the main page. Two very good contrasting quotes, and some interesting links, but... ... all the most relevant stuff, the actual history of the school, is here.
Posts: 5 | Registered: Sunday, May 14 2006 07:00
Native Americans in General
Apprentice
Member # 7128
Profile #75
All this discussion, especially of the idea of "assimilation" as a solution has got me thinking. Some of the worst effects of colonialism/imperialism go beyond the death tolls. There's also what we could call "cultural genocide": the lasting effects of expansionist policies and empire.

Certainly little attention is paid to the many atrocities Native Americans have been subjected to, but the Trail of Tears is among the better known of these. What fewer people know of is the boarding school system which came into existence around 1890. They didn't start to disappear until 1950 or so, many of the schools existed until the 1970s, and a few even into the 90s.

Here's a link to a page about the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, the first, prototypal Indian boarding school, and it's founder, Colonel Richard Henry Pratt. I think it provides a lot of insight into the philosophy behind cultural integration/assimiliation/genocide.

Here are a few choice samples of Pratt's own words:

Pratt is often quoted as saying "Kill the Indian, save the man". - Meaning: kill off the "indianness" of the natives, save the part of him which can be like the white man, which Pratt saw as the "human" part.

In an address to a convention of Baptist ministers in 1883 Pratt wrote: "In Indian civilization I am a Baptist, because I believe in immersing the Indians in our civilization and when we get them under holding them there until they are thoroughly soaked." - particularly chilling metaphor, that.

Anyhow, I look forward to seeing how this (refreshingly intelligent and insightful) discussion unfolds, and participating in it.
Posts: 5 | Registered: Sunday, May 14 2006 07:00