Advantagesfor Indians Going to American Boarding Schools
Fromthe first moment that the white man set foot in native America andeventually made the decision to settle among the North AmericanIndians, his mind was only geared to fulfill one goal civilize theIndians and make them give up their ways, wholly adopting hisculture. To achieve this, the white community believed that they hadto introduce and enforce the Christian religion, which together witheducation were perceived as the most integral in transforming theIndians into civilized people. This desire saw the missionariesconsisting of Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries establishschools on or close to Indian lands so as to teach them the Europeanlanguages, in addition to reading and writing. Upon creation of theUnited States, there arose a fresh collaboration between the federalgovernment and the missionaries that worked to break down the Indianculture further.
Thefederal government supported education through funding the religiousmissions to establish schools. The reservation day-school was theinitial school program where children lived with their families butwould attend schools during the day. With this, speaking any otherlanguage other than English was banned, as was any attempts made byadhering to the Native cultural practices. This system did not workas expected and therefore within a short while, it was decided thatthe day schools would never be successful. The children stayed tooclose to their families, homes, and cultures that it became extremelydifficult for full and successful indoctrination with the white man’slanguage and values. This necessitated the adoption of the next stepwhich involved the establishment of reservation boarding schoolssituated close to the agency headquarters. The children attending thereservation boarding schools could only go home during the summer andprobably for shorter periods at Christmas.
Inspite of the fact that children were taken away from their familiesforcing them to live under dire conditions being and striped offtheir identity, attending the boarding schools also came with a fairshare of merits to the Indians. The first advantage derived was thefact that the students got to learn additional life skills from theschools they attended. For the boys, the curriculum stressed onindustrial training while the girls got to learn new skills inhousehold matters. With the acquisition of these new competencies,the quality of their lives improved and so did those of theirfamilies and the larger community. As part of the school curriculum,the white man initiated an experimental farming operation that helpedin teaching agricultural skills as well. This was crucial as itintroduced new advanced farming methods that saw the introduction ofnew food varieties, while at the same time yielding more harvest,therefore, curbing the problems of food shortage. In addition, thesurplus foods could be sold for money, and therefore this introduceda new venture of economic benefits. In school, the students got tolearn new things including reading, mathematics, music, athletics,and military training as well as Christianity. These were crucialconcepts in widening their scope of the world as they got toexperience new things that were different from their culture.
Humaninteractions resulting in long lasting friendships and unions couldprobably be termed as the biggest advantage that came with thereservation boarding schools. As stated earlier, the children lefthome and families at very early ages and were whisked off to schoolwhere they only had fellow juveniles as companions. The desperatesituations among colleagues often bred the best of friendships andcompanionships. To date, friendships and life partnerships borne ofthe boarding schools are still celebrated. It was important that thestudents made the best of the situation since they had no alternativebut to follow the rules of the white man.