Saturday, April 26, 2014

Documentary Review: Our Spirits Don't Speak English: Indian Boarding School

I am familiar with the Boarding School program.  Growing up, Brigham City, where Intermoutain Indian School was located was just over the mountain, and we would often drive by, when traveling to Salt Lake City.  I also went there to scout a game as Weldon's team played them one year.  I also traveled there during Junior High to compete in track and field there.  It was there that the discuss got away from someone on our team, and struck someone in the head. 
Indian schools started in the 1800s.  First with missionary schools.  Later with Bureau of Indian Affairs schools.  The goal of the school was not necessarily to educate and nurture; but to assimilate.  "Kill the Indian and save the man."  Often, student came very young to school, and would spend the entire school year away from home, only returning to their people in the summer.  Every person who came to the schools had to deal with an onslaught on their traditional way of life.  At times they were given American names.  They were punished if they used their native languages.  In fact, cases of abuse, physical, emotional and sexual have been documented. If without abuse, the experience was very traumatic.   The high point of Indian school usage was in the early 1970s.  In 1973 there were 63,000 students at Indian schools.  Most Indian students are now educated close to home.  Many Native Americans live in urban settings.  Sometimes tribes have their own schools.  As of 2007 there were less than 10,000 students.
A for Intermountain Indian School it opened in 1950 for Navajo students.  Because of deceased enrollment, in 1974 it was opened to other tribes, and had people from over 100 different tribes attend before closing for good in 1984. 

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