Beginning in 1879, when Richard Henry Pratt opened the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the United States government began a policy of removing American Indian children from their communities in an effort to prepare them for citizenship. Education was one part of a three-pronged assimilation policy that also included removing the legal boundaries that separated American Indians from the United States and dividing tribal lands into sections of land to encourage their adoption of farming and ranching. Off-reservation schools such as Carlisle are infamous in the history of American education for the way they attempted to erase American Indian cultures by subjecting students to a complete physical and psychological transformation that included cutting their hair, wearing military uniforms, adopting new names, and forbidding the speaking of Indian languages. While the attempts to erase Indian cultures and the industrial nature of education at schools like Carlisle are well-known, the way off-reservation schools created citizens of American Indian children has not been at the center of study.
The purpose of this dissertation is to deepen our understanding of the role off-reservation boarding schools played in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in preparing American Indians for citizenship. Using historical methods, this dissertation examines the context in which the citizenship education curriculum was created, the beliefs of the people who created and implemented it, and finally, evidence of the citizenship education curriculum itself, in order to add depth and complexity to the current research. An examination of primary historical documents, such as courses of study, textbooks used in off-reservation schools, school newsletters and newspapers, annual reports, and the writings of influential educational policymakers, reveals that citizenship education was central to the mission of off-reservation schools, but that the nature of citizenship education depended on the context in which it was implemented. I argue that competing beliefs about the capability of American Indians to adopt the "habits of civilized life" necessary for citizenship led to important differences in the ways two of the most influential off-reservation boarding schools, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania and the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia, approached citizenship education.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2009. Advisors: Dr. Patricia G. Avery, Dr. Benjamin M. Jacobs. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 182 pages.
Scarlett, Michael Hawkins.
Playing citizens: the Social Education of American Indians, 1875-1924..
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