Immigrants to the New World almost always considered their cultures superior to that of Native Americans. As these newcomers spread westward, they became determined to “uplift” native peoples into their own beliefs and customs. Met with the Native Americans’ unexpectedly tenacious resistance to this subjugation of their various cultures, the federal government saw schooling as the best tool at its disposal to gain its objective.
By the 1860s, the federal government had set up 48 day schools on or near reservations to further its goal of native assimilation into Anglo-American culture. The schools’ purpose was to not only educate Native American children about white culture and customs, but to also educate the children’s parents.
Native American resistance to these schools will be the topic of my next post.