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“They are still trying to dismantle American Indian culture and traditions through the removal of our children. They have cunning arguments which, with their large and boisterous words and white privilege, carefully shadow the fact that they just aren’t seeking our children, but ethnic annihilation. Through court cases, such as Baby Veronica, A.D. vs Washburn, and Texas v. Zinke powerful groups are working at a frantic pace to undo the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which was put into place to stop the wholesale removal of children who were flying off the reservation by the early 1970s. Recently, I spoke to a friend who follows these legal battles. ‘Why do they want to undo ICWA,’ I asked, perplexed because I don’t believe any of those litigators care one whit about what happens to American Indian children or American Indian families. My friend replied, ‘If they can get rid of ICWA, they can begin to work to disassemble all the laws and protections that have been put into place by American Indian treaty rights.’ The bottom line, economic interests want the land, and the resources beneath that land. They always have. They are hiring legal experts to take away our kids to achieve that goal, like they always have. I’m fighting to keep that from happening. And that fight starts with keeping our children.”
—Susan Devan Harness, “The goal is to take away our kids, dismantle our cultures and traditions, Reflections on a life given, a life removed,” Indian Country Today, 9 October 2018

United States Settler Colonialism
Erasing Indigenous Identity – A Policy of Cultural Genocide
The dark history of education as a tool of settler colonialism and cultural destruction
Apache Schooled - Identity Erased by US Colonization
“Let all that is Indian within you die.”
—Carlisle Indian School commencement speech

Carlisle Indian School - Before   Carlisle Indian School - After
Apache children when they arrived at the Carlisle Indian School ...   and four months after their arrival           (source)
“Today, western schooling is responsible for introducing a human monoculture across the entire world. Essentially the same curriculum is being taught, and it’s training people for jobs – very scarce jobs – but for jobs in an urban consumer culture. The diversity of cultures, as well as the diversity of unique human individuals is being destroyed in this way.”
—Helena Norberg-Hodge
“Immerse the Indians in our civilization
and when we get them there, hold them under
until they are thoroughly soaked in the white man’s ways."
—Captain Richard Henry Pratt                              
founded Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1879
Carlisle Indian School Pupils circa 1900
Buildings and students of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, circa 1900. More than 12,000 Indigenous children from more than 140 nations between 1879 and 1918, were forcibly brought to this site to be assimilated into white man’s ways. The school was the model for nearly 150 Indian schools. (source)
“Kill the Indian, Save the Man” —Richard Pratt
Indian Schools were designed to destroy American Indian cultures, languages, and spirituality. Students had to accept white culture, the English language, and Christianity. The first, and most well-known of these schools, was the Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School. The school was established in 1879 by an Army officer named Richard Pratt, and was located in an abandoned Army post in Pennsylvania.
Pratt conducted a social experiment with Apache prisoners of war. The captives were shackled and sent by train to a camp in Florida thousands of miles from their home. He cut the men’s long hair, put them in uniforms, forced them to learn English, and subjected them to strict military protocols. During the course of this experiment, some of the men were severely traumatized by the experience and committed suicide. Most of the prisoners survived and learned the English customs and language. Using this social experiment as a model, Pratt went to Congress and requested funding for the similar education of all American Indians.
The Pratt/Carlisle Model Sweeps Across North America
By 1900, most American Indian children were taken from their families. They were transported by train and later by bus to American Indian Boarding Schools where they would be put into uniforms, have their hair cut, and be forced to act and speak like white people. Many spent their entire childhood in the American Indian Boarding School system, without seeing their parents and families for many years.
Upon graduating, these young American Indians still retained certain aspects of their traditional culture yet acted, spoke, and thought like English-speaking, white Americans. They would often return to their families and communities feeling like outcasts and in most instances, their families and communities treated them as such. No matter how much time, money, and effort was made to assimilate American Indians, white society still did not readily accept them. No longer finding an identity in either the white or tribal society, thousands of American Indian adolescents were thrust into an abyss of lost identity. (source, and local copy)
Tom Torlino, 1882   Tom Torlino 1885
Tom Torlino, 1882                            Tom Torlino, 1885          (source)
“The first day in the land of apples [in 1884] was a bitter-cold one; for the snow still covered the ground, and the trees were bare.... But this eating by formula was not the hardest trial in that first day. Late in the morning, my friend Judéwin gave me a terrible warning. Judéwin knew a few words of English, and she had overheard the paleface woman talk about cutting our
Zitkala-Sa, circa 1898
Zitkala-Ša, 1898
long, heavy hair. Our mothers had taught us that only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy. Among our people, short hair was worn by mourners, and shingled hair by cowards!
“We discussed our fate some moments, and when Judéwin said, ‘We have to submit, because they are strong,’ I rebelled. ‘No, I will not submit! I will struggle first!’ I answered. I watched my chance, and when no one noticed I disappeared... What caused them to stoop and look under the bed I do not know. I remember being dragged out, though I resisted by kicking and scratching wildly. In spite of myself, I was carried downstairs and tied fast in a chair.
“I cried aloud, shaking my head all the while until I felt the cold blades of the scissors against my neck, and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids. Then I lost my spirit. Since the day I was taken from my mother I had suffered extreme indignities. People had stared at me. I had been tossed about in the air like a wooden puppet. And now my long hair was shingled like a coward’s! In my anguish I moaned for my mother, but no one came to comfort me. Not a soul reasoned quietly with me, as my own mother used to do; for now I was only one of many little animals driven by a herder.”
Zitkala-Ša recounting her first day at White’s Manual Labor Institute
in Wabash, Indiana in 1884 (source)
Wounded Yellow Robe, Timber Yellow Robe, and Henry Standing Bear, 1883   Wounded Yellow Robe, Timber Yellow Robe, and Henry Standing Bear, 6 months later
Wounded Yellow Robe, Timber Yellow Robe, and Henry Standing Bear Taken upon their arrival in Carlisle      (hi res)   Wounded Yellow Robe, Timber Yellow Robe, and Henry Standing Bear six months after entrance to school      (source)
U.S. Army officer Richard Henry Pratt:
“We are encouraged in our Indian work every day by the advance of public sentiment. If we succeed in what we are doing, it will be through building up a strong and a bright hope in the breast of the Indian. A hope that they may become white men, and follow the white man’s road.” (source)
“A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one, and that high sanction of his destruction has been an enormous factor in promoting Indian massacres. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man....
“It is a great mistake to think that the Indian is born an inevitable savage. He is born a blank, like all the rest of us. Left in the surroundings of savagery, he grows to possess a savage language, superstition, and life. We, left in the surroundings of civilization, grow to possess a civilized language, life, and purpose. Transfer the infant white to the savage surroundings, he will grow to possess a savage language, superstition, and habit. Transfer the savage-born infant to the surroundings of civilization, and he will grow to possess a civilized language and habit. These results have been established over and over again beyond all question; and it is also well established that those advanced in life, even to maturity, of either class, lose already acquired qualities belonging to the side of their birth, and gradually take on those of the side to which they have been transferred.” (source)

“School forcibly snatches away children from a world full of God’s own handiwork ...It is a mere method of discipline which refuses to take into account the individual...a manufactory for grinding out uniform results. I was not a creation of the schoolmaster: the Government Board of Education was not consulted when I took birth in the world.”
—Rabindranath Tagore, 1927 Nobel Prize Winner for Poetry


Dear Friends,

The film “Schooling the World” asks us to re-examine some of our deepest assumptions about knowledge, learning, ignorance, poverty, success, and wealth. The purpose of the film is not to provide all the answers, but to ask a question, to open a conversation. Our hope is that you will be able to use the film with your friends, colleagues, students, or organization to begin conversations that will be deep, challenging, and inspiring.

One leader in the field of international education told us that he found the film “painful, provocative, and oddly exhilarating.” The exhilaration comes when we can approach a new way of seeing with honesty and fearlessness —even if it requires admitting we have been wrong about some things. One of the main premises of the film is that we do great harm when we think we have all the answers; that in fact the dialogue between cultures must be conducted with what the Buddhist tradition calls ”beginner’s mind” —an attitude of openness, questioning, and listening, not with an attitude of expertise that entitles us to prescribe solutions for other people. We hope that your class or group can conduct a dialogue about the film in the same spirit.

As you or your students come into contact with people from other cultures, we encourage you to try to cultivate this attitude of openness and listening —and to use the film as part of a process of consciousness-raising. Even those of us who value cultural diversity may harbor an unconscious bias toward seeing the knowledge of traditional societies as a thing of the past —as at best quaint and colorful, a relic to be studied and even treasured, but not as vital living knowledge that has the potential to guide how we live in the 21st century.

“Schooling the World” is challenging that assumption.

The way we educate children lies at the heart of our culture, our economy, our ecology —our schools both mirror our society and reliably reproduce it into the future. Schools as we know them today reflect a world with vast extremes of wealth and poverty, an economy with a devastating impact on natural ecosystems, a culture in which family breakdown and individual psychological distress are epidemic. What can we learn from other societies’ ways of learning about and understanding the world? What can we learn from their ways of nurturing children and raising them to a productive, satisfying adulthood? And how is our own current school system failing to support the creativity and diversity we will need to face the challenges of the 21st century? We encourage you to think about the questions here and connect the dots for yourself: how can we re-imagine learning and culture in a way that supports individual creativity, cultural diversity, economic justice, and a sustainable relationship to the environment?

Warm regards,

Carol Black
Director, Schooling the World

Watch complete documentary here while you can:

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