Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Assimilation through a Pseudo-Education


I chose this topic mainly due to my passion for the history of the Native Indian culture. Along with my Bachelors in English with writing option, I am pursuing a Minor in NAS. I have read a lot of textbooks and have had numerous hours learning about Indian laws, philosophy, religious beliefs, and of course the genocide that has been inflicted upon them. Before this class, I had never really looked at the rhetoric that was actually used to persuade people that the boarding schools were a terrific idea.

Even though the pencil is just a bland tool to us, for the government, it was the best weapon against the tribes in treaty writing and for writing speeches for Pratt and other officials to talk up the civilization process of the schools. I also see that according to Thompson’s article “See Through,” regardless of power standing, the government’s actions will always end up coming to light.

The main connection that truly stands out to me is McCloud’s article on “Iconicity.” I never really made the connection until now, that even though these are simple pictures of the past; they are true icons that represent what horrible things took place. These pictures were used as propaganda to make people see that the Indian was dead, and all that was left, was a peaceful Christian. I hope this project will give a glimpse into what tactics were used for effective rhetoric at the time. Even though it was devastating to innocent children, maybe we can learn something from it and help heal the wounds that some people still have.

Day Schools

At the end of the 1800’s, the U.S.-Indian wars seemed to show that the Indian tribes where surely losing the battle. In the 1860’s reform groups were being established to help transform these ‘savages’ into a more ‘civilized’ group of people with the use of assimilation through education. The government set up day schools that were very close to the reservations. This was done so students could leave the reservation, attend school during the day, and then just go home. The teachers soon discovered what they were teaching during the day, was ‘untaught’ by the parents every night. Government officials decided that this method wasn’t working, so the schools were moved farther away from the reservation. The parents still wanted to be close to their children; due to lack of trust and to make sure their children were safe, so they just moved their homes next to the schools.

                 U.S. School for Indians at Pine Ridge, S.D. Small Oglala tipi camp in front of large government school buildings in open field[1]

Boarding Schools (US)
Residential Schools (Canada)


Richard Henry Pratt, founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, 1879[2]

Under the command of Major Richard Henry Pratt, a new experiment was put into place. Pratt signed on as an Army Cavalry volunteer during the Civil War, and then spent eight years on the western Great Plains participating in conflicts with Native Americans. During his time fighting on the plains, he developed a well known hatred towards the tribal people. This experiment is what became known historically as the Indian Boarding Schools. With the permission of the Secretary of the Interior, and Secretary of the War Department, Pratt was granted permission to use the deserted Carlisle Barracks as his school. Once the building was secured, he soon visited reservations on the Dakota Territory.
At each reservation he ‘recruited’ children, so they could be the first students at the newly established Carlisle Industrial School. Carlisle was run with a military feel, the children woke up to the sound of bugles and were forced to stand at attention and keep totally silent. Military training was done so that the individual spirit of the students was broken down, and they were to think and act the same, almost as if one large organism. Along with the military regiment style life, the male students were taught a trade, usually saddle/leather work, bakery, farming, or some other skill that was deemed beneficial to the students when they graduated and the females were taught housekeeping skills. Along with those subjects, art, music education and sports were also taught.

The government used written language and technology (at the time) much like it was introduced in Denis Baron’s, “Pencils to Pixels.” Agents used the fact that tribal groups couldn’t understand the technology, even though it was just simple written words. “The pencil may seem a simple device in contrast to the computer, but although it has fewer parts, it too is an advanced technology.”[3] In order to keep getting support for the school, Pratt created a deceitful way to show that his techniques were working.

“If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man, he would have made me so in the first place. He put in your heart certain wishes and plans; in my heart he put other and different desires. Each man is good in the sight of the Great Spirit. It is not necessary, that eagles should be crows.”
Sitting Bull

The schools were being sold off as academic facilities, but in truth, they were a death sentence to tribal culture, and also to many children who were not strong enough to survive.

The number of students that had been rolled through this program is just staggering. Carlisle school kept detail records of the number of children from each tribe that attended the school. These records can be looked at as proof of how proud Pratt and other agents were of the work being done at Carlisle.
 (Link to Carlisle enrollment from 1879-1918)


Pratt soon developed his own form of propaganda in order to ‘sell’ people on the idea of his new school. His plan was to use photographs to get support for Carlisle and other Indian schools. These pictures were designed to be a documentation of progress for the students. Students would be shown coming in as wild savages, and after time, be transformed into a highly civilized being, that was no longer a threat. The photos were taken by highly skilled photographers to show how much ‘education’ had changed the students. In reality, the photos represented schooling, not education. The schooling tactics included vocational trades, and manufacturing, and lacked any academic educational value (reading, writing, etc.).

Pratt knew that when people would look at the pictures, there was no true way to know if education was actually taking place. The photographers understood that successful pictures do not represent any mental transformations, but they can be constructed to show progressive ‘education.’ The students were always photographed wearing only their civilized clothes that were neatly tucked in and freshly pressed.

Academic Building at Carlisle Indian School[4]

“He based it on an education program he had developed in an Indian prison. He described his philosophy in a speech he gave in 1892. “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one,” Pratt said. “In 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.”[5]

Navajo student Tom Torlino before attending Carlisle and three years after[6]

Carlisle School students[7]

The sole basis of the boarding schools was to teach the children what it meant to be civilized, thus losing their cultural heritage (cultural re-education). Children were not allowed to talk in their native tongue, or allowed to wear any traditional clothing. If they slipped and did talk in their native tongue, they were punished.

“Long hair was the pride of all Indians. The boys, one by one, would break down and cry when they saw their braids thrown on the floor. All of the buckskin clothes had to go and we had to put on the clothes of the White Man. If we thought the days were bad, the nights were much worse. This is when the loneliness set in, for it was when we knew that we were all alone. Many boys ran away from the school because the treatment was so bad, but most of them were caught and brought back by the police.”[8]
Pratt firmly believed that in order for the students to be completely civilized, they had to renounce their tribal way of life, and convert to Christianity.

Student photo[9]

Graduating class of 1894, Carlisle School[10]

Enter Religion

Eventually the government realized the Carlisle method was a cheaper alternative to military campaigns against the tribes. Instead of paying more money to continue the tribal genocide, the schools would be used to eliminate the remaining native populations. Within 30 years of the opening of Carlisle, nearly 500 schools were spread out across the US. Only 25 off-reservation schools were controlled by the government, while the rest were church run on reservations but funded with government money. So the schools were soon being used to strip the children of native heritage (often times with severe beatings), and instill in them the value of intense labor, and also the acceptance of God.

Shoshone Episcopal Mission Boarding School, Wind River Indian Reservation, WY[11]

The students had it, often time beaten into them, that the only way they would leave the schools

was by accepting the white Christian ways. When they were not ‘learning’ they were expected to

work in shops or for neighboring farms, as free labor.

           Prayer time and learning to sew at St. Mary’s Mission School in Omak, Washington[12]

School or Labor Camp?

Carlisle Propaganda Photo, notice the “Labor Conquers all Things” motto[13]

Since the schools were run on a very tight budget, a large number of students died from starvation and disease because the schools lacked adequate food and medical care. Many schools would lease out the students to local farms to work during the day, and then go back to the school at night. It was common for students to perform most of the work at school: cooking, cleaning, making and washing clothes, and also farming. This practical curriculum was supposed to instill the values of hard work in the students. The boys were broken in different groups depending on the work load, and time of year. Some were shipped off to work the local farmland, others were sent out to cut wood to use for the winter heat, while the rest stayed at the school and worked in the shops. The work was hard and tedious, and the students did it for free, and in the name of God. The schools quickly became labor camps for children. For the lucky ones who actually left the schools, they just grew up to hate manual labor.

Saddle shop at the Carson School[14]

Wood chopping crew at Tulalip Indian School, ca. 1912[15]


Since Carlisle School was an old military post, children that were deemed as troublesome, were thrown in the prison cells. They were kept in the cells for as short as a few minutes, and as long as a few days. Even though other schools were run by priests and nuns, the physical and mental abuse was still running strong. Children were often times beaten for not listening or for not truly accepting Christianity. One of the main criteria needed in order for the children to be civilized was to acknowledge God and that being a true Christian was the only way for students to have their soul be saved. Nuns and priests often times used these beatings to remind the children that God and pain were the only true way to salvation. Reports have shown that many children were killed by beatings, poisoning, electric shock, and starvation, prolonged exposure to extreme cold temperatures while being naked and medical experimentation (organ removal and radiation exposure).

These acts were taking place in many schools throughout the U.S. and Canada. Reports produced by the International Human Rights Association of American Minorities shows the involvement of churches and government agencies in the murder of over 50,000 Native children; those are just from the Canadian residential school system. The churches here in the U.S. are not as willing to cooperate in the reporting of child deaths. Part of this is likely due to early records not being kept; the other part is, by keeping records, they would be acknowledging the abuse took place. The grounds of several schools have unmarked graves of school children, and babies born to girls that were raped by priests and other church officials working in the schools. Some workers of the schools took the saying, “Save the man, kill the Indian,” way to literally.

Carlisle Indian Industrial School Cemetery[16]

In the 1960’s, congressional reports found that in the existing boarding schools, teachers still felt that their role at school was to civilize the American Indian, not educate them. Discipline and punishment were of higher importance than any kind of academics. Some schools would have the children watch movies. These movies were the typical Hollywood ‘cowboy and Indian’ style movies, with the Indians being killed. The motive behind the movies was to remind the children that ‘their’ people were dying because they (the students) were not civilized or misbehaving.

“Busted his head open and blood got all over”, Wright recalls. “I had to take him to the hospital, and they told me to tell them he ran into the wall and I better not tell them what really happened. Wright says he still has nightmares from the severe discipline. He worries that he and other former students have inadvertently re-created that harsh environment within their own families.”[17]

The physical and mental abuse that took place in the schools still can be seen in people that survived. Since all they knew growing up in school, was the abuse, they unwillingly end up abusing their own family members as a result. Over the years, this has become a major problem with many families. Support groups have been established to help those in need.

Cartoon depicting pedophile tendencies of priests[18]

 “As a result of boarding school policies, there is now an epidemic of child sexual abuse in Native communities. However, because of the shame attached to abuse, there has been no space to address this problem. Consequently, child abuse passes from one generation to the next. This project (Boarding School Healing Project) becomes the entry way to address child sexual abuse. By framing abuse, not primarily as an example of individual and community dysfunctionality, but as the continuing effect of human rights abuses perpetrated by state policy, we may take the shame away from talking about abuse and provide the space for communities to address the problem to heal”[19]

Facing Reality

The boarding schools where horrible places for many children and for years the agencies involved did a damn good job of hiding the truth. With the power of the internet and just the strong will people have to get the truth out, the general population is more aware of what truly happened behind closed doors. The power is now shifting to the people and through letters, videos, and songs, their personal survival stories are out for the world to see. Even though the U.S. churches still do not want to acknowledge much wrong-doing, the general public (from all ethnic groups) have much more access to the truth. With the history being more open, the tribal groups are seeing much more help when dealing with domestic abuse, and depression. It will not be an overnight fix, but it’s a start in the right direction.

Works Cited

Bear, Charla. “American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many.” Database Online. Available from NPR, Accessed 15 June 2012 Accessed 15 June 2012

Landis, Barbara. “Carlisle Indian School History” available at Accessed 13 June 2012

Library of Congress (LOC PIX). Available from Accessed 15 June 2012

Library of Congress (LOC PIX). Available from  Accessed 10 June 2012

Marr, Carolyn J. “Assimilation Through Education: Indian Boarding Schools in the Pacific Northwest.” Database online. Available from University Libraries, University of Washington, Accessed 13 June 2012

Smith, Andrea. “Soul Wound: The Legacy of Native American Schools.” Manataka American Indian    Council. Available from Accessed 15 June 2012

Yu, Jane. “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” Spring 2009. Database online. Available from The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Accessed 13 June 2012

[1] Library of Congress (LOC PIX). Available from  accessed 10 June 2012
[5] Bear, Charla. “American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many.” Available from Accessed 12 June 2012.
[6] Yu, Jane. “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” Spring 2009. Database online. Available from The Pennsylvania Center        for the Book, Accessed 13 June             2012
[7] Landis, Barbara. “Carlisle Indian School History” available at Accessed       13 June 2012
[11] Library of Congress (LOC PIX). Available from Accessed 15 June                 2012
[14] Smith, Andrea. “Soul Wound: The Legacy of Native American Schools.” Manataka American Indian Council. Available from Accessed 15 June 2012
[15] Marr, Carolyn J. “Assimilation Through Education: Indian Boarding Schools in the Pacific Northwest.” Database         online. Available from University Libraries, University of Washington,    Accessed 13 June 2012
[17] Bear, Charla.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Week 5

I have been using computers for years now, typically writing for school, or internet research. The article by Virginia Heffernan “Google’s War on Nonsense” was actually pretty interesting. I never really thought that some articles would actually be printed as garbage just to make money for AOL. I understand there is a lot of crap on the internet, but to pay writers to much make up stuff just to get the advertising money…that’s just pathetic. I guess I shouldn’t be all that shocked, because I have noticed that even local newspaper companies don’t really seem to write their own stories anymore. I can see that if it is national news, then a local branch wouldn’t have access to a lot of what happened. But what happens when the story source is wrong? Now you have local papers looking like fools, because they didn’t investigate the truth. Even the local papers are more or less following suit with this idea, ‘let’s fill our paper with trivial stuff, and then get most of our money on ad space.’ So is what AOL doing, any different than what local newspapers are doing?

I have never used AOL, only because all I have ever heard about them is once you join, good luck canceling. I typically use Google for my search engine, but even then, it’s the internet, some days finding what you’re truly looking for is like finding a needle in a haystack. Google needs money from advertisers; they might just go about it in a different way.

I really liked how a couple of the articles discussed how anonymity can create this sense that people who comment to articles feel that they actually know what they are talking about. Funny how the internet can make Einstein's out of everyone! I have read numerous comments from people posting to articles on Bozeman Chronicle, MSN News, etc. Some of the comments are flat out fabricated lies, which the poster has tried to make sound like facts. Doug Gross talks about how some places have thought about requiring the commenter’s real names, but then that would prevent people from posting. I agree that most comments from people are just a huge waste of hot air. I did think the idea of having a select group only commenting on an article was cool. The only drawback to that, are they going to make sure the comments are totally unbiased? They could easily pick people who will only say certain things, just to help sell the story/publication.  Either way, until they figure out a great way to filter out the crap, I guess people will continue to blame Obama because the weather forecast shows it will rain.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reading Visually

After reading the McCloud comics, I found that even as a parent, my two girls do the same thing when I ask them to tell me about a toy. I never really thought about how in their minds, they just run through the actions of what the toy does, and they don’t really think to tell about it. “It’s a cool toy that does stuff, duh!” Weird how in our society it does consider it normal to do things as kids, but you need to outgrow them as an adult. I see the parallelism with this as education ruining creativity.

If everyone ‘outgrew’ this technique, where would movies, comics, children books, graphic novels, video games, etc… come from? What does this say about people who regularly read the political comics? Or people who spend their life and education on translating hieroglyphs? Funny how it works that the comic talks about this ideology, then there is a huge metaphorically BUT, when commercialism comes into play. “We need these child-like ways of thinking to go away, BUT, when there is millions to be made….we will make exceptions.” I had to laugh at the scene where the ‘narrator’ is talking about how modern art became incomprehensible to the average viewer!! “I know the artist is making a statement, but I don’t know what the heck it is.”

How many times has anyone told another person, “I read this awesome book and it said this...”? Much like the part 2 of McCloud (page 25) we use words to describe things that aren’t really true. I have to correct myself all the time over that little detail. No biggie, because people tend to let it go, but it really depends on the type of writing or talking you are doing. You have got to know your audience.

I never looked at random objects the way McCloud describes. We want to see ourselves in everything we buy. It makes sense though, when selling a house (have done it twice) you want to remove any trace of your family. You want the prospective buyer to see themselves in the house raising their family. Same with cars, remove all stickers and such you might have put on it. Remove all personality to it. I think the parmesan cheese lid, might be going overboard though.

The A/V projects: I found it interesting to see what different path we took in creating our videos. I guess that’s what makes them unique; we all have different views of the world around us. I’m pretty sure my video would have been much different if I was single without little ones running around.

Hyper-Readers was interesting, in the sense that I had read some of the ideas before, just not in the detail as the author puts them. I have dealt with other classes in which a classmate has ‘trespassed’ and taking snippets of material and put in their own writing. Luckily I was able to catch it, and remind them to cite the source. What I also found interesting was; the material being quoted was being used to defend the author’s claim, when in reality, the information was going against their claim. If the classmate would have actually read the whole article versus ‘skimming’ over it, she would have picked up on that.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


This week’s readings and videos were pretty cool. Some of the stuff, I have already been introduced to. Last semester I had technical writing and we went over the usage of different fonts, and how they can help or hinder your work. The readings helped in re-established those ideas for me. I have to admit that one of the biggest things I was informed of is how with computers today, you are not required to double space after a period. I was taught to actually type with a typewriter and it was required to double space at the end of every sentence. I know it is goofy, but being 39 now, and looking back at how much I have been using a computer, I wonder how many extra keystrokes I have accumulated over the years. We also went over how the use colors and very little wording can create some of the most vibrant movie posters. I had to laugh when I saw the picture of the ‘paper-clip’ office assistant on the old version of Word (Multiple Media of Texts). I can’t count how many times I noticed that little ‘tap-tap’ on the screen.

                The readings definitely show that for all the stuff I have learned about writing, punctuation and text format, the rules are more or less obsolete. There are general rules that still exist, but again, it really depends on the audience. I still have a hard time writing technical reports where I am not indenting every paragraph, or eliminate underlining titles and such. It seems that a lot of the basic rules had a main purpose at one time, but our language and text has changed so much that these rules are so easily seen as flexible.

                I did enjoy reading the ‘Cracked Guide to Fonts’ cartoon page on what defines each text and what it says about the writer. I typically use Calibri, so I guess I fall along the lines of “just too lazy to change the font.”

                The Ted talks were very interesting. (I posted my Discussion post based on one of them). When Robinson said he met that fire fighter and was told he was throwing his life away, I had a flash back of when I was in high school. We had a DeVry Tech school rep come to my school. We went around and told him our plans out of high school. When I told him was wanted to join the Air Force he just said the same thing, “That’s fine if you want to throw your life away.”

                Seth Godin made a lot of valid points about the ‘not my job’ attitude. Some of the stuff I had to laugh about, but when he talked about the medicine and warnings for the dog, I did laugh but for different reasons. Do we live in such a ‘sue happy’ society that the most ridiculous things have to be spelled out to prevent stupid things from happening? He did talk about how charts and visualizations are over used. Power-point is a great tool, but typically it is over used so that the audience isn’t really paying attention to the speaker. Just like everything we use for rhetoric, just use it in a way that it is productive.

                The health based video wasn’t at all shocking. My wife works for the county health department and says that medical stuff is done that way on purpose to ensure a small handful of people will get tons of money. I did think it was cool that Goetz stated how the medical field uses the fear of God to get people to go to the doctor, after-all, it’s not about people feeling better, it’s all about the almighty dollar.

                Since one of our main senses is ‘vision’ it makes sense that layout is a major component to effective work. It will be interesting to see how much of this design stays important or if society just gets to the point, that nobody really cares. I personally see it being a valued tool, because people like things that look nice.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Photo Essay Proposal

For my photo essay, I want to have it centered around the Indian boarding schools. My main ideas will be to show that they aren't just old buildings falling apart (most of them), but they are a symbol of what hatred to one specific ethnic group can create. For some they are an old building, to others, a nightmare that will never go away. In the process, I  will show modern school buildings and where the names come from versus the names of the boarding schools.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Writing and Technology

Out of all the articles, I found From Pencils to Pixels to be the most interesting. I think mainly because I like reading about history, and how things are constantly in a state of evolution. On page 22, I found the one sentence that has been proven true throughout many states of history. “Questions of validity came up because writing was indeed being used to perpetrate fraud.” It continues to say how Monks used this to snatch land. I find that interesting that this ‘technology’ has been used for years when dealing with land grabs. We don’t even have to look at European history to see that the written language was used/introduced to a civilization that didn’t understand the concept. Yet even today, this treaties and laws are held as the ‘gospel’ when dealing with reservation entitlement. I guess I just find it interesting that we read about all this stuff, our government knows what happened and how corrupt it was, yet nothing is being done to repeal any of these deals.

Found it interesting to see where the word stylus came from. 

The telephone discussion was pretty cool, also. I have watched my two girls nodded ‘yes’ or shake their head ‘no’, when talking to people on the phone. That part of the reading was pretty funny. While at Boise State University, I did a large research paper on the Enigma Machine (famous coding machine used by Germany during WWII). When the machine was first invented, the owner tried selling it to the phone company as a new telecommunication device. They didn’t want it so he went and sold it to the military. The technology behind that machine if sold to the phone manufacturers could have possibly changed who our phones work today.

I do agree with the side note written on page 212 of Database and the Essay. We live in a world where nothing is free anymore. If there is a buck to be made, somebody is going to exploit it. I understand the intellectual property issue, and agree that if you write something then others shouldn’t be able to copy it and take credit for your work. I still continue to be in classes where students are worried about plagiarism for merely taking an idea that they read and translating in incorrectly. Yet, what I see in the real world is, if you have made a name for yourself as a writer and have a large fan base, or legal time, then its ok. Why is it ok to ‘borrow’ ideas from other books, stories, movies, and make money (if you’re famous), yet get kicked out of college for doing the same thing? I haven’t figured that out yet.

As far as the video, and the Britannica blog, am I actually supposed to be feeling sorry for the students? Call me a jerk or whatever, but I came to school to learn, not party, spend half my time on Facebook, playing video games, then turn around and complain that I don’t have enough time to study. I understand that school is busy, but give me a break. I don’t know how many times in class on the Engineering side here at MSU, classmates came in stoned, or stinking of high heaven of alcohol. I did like the one parent who commented that if she would have seen her daughter on the video stating stuff, and then her daughter would have to pay for her own school. I do feel that maybe schools need to be structured to focus on classes that are more important to the degree. “It will make you more well rounded” is not a answer as to why students have to take classes that have nothing to do with their degree. If schools are worried about student’s not getting by, do away with huge lecture hall filled classes, and the ‘filler’ classes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Week 1 Rhetoric

                To be honest, this is truly my first in depth analysis of rhetoric. Last semester I did take Writing Studies, and we touched base on the topic, but that was about it. Since I have never been in depth about the topic, I just took face value that most students seemed to agree that the definition of rhetoric is ‘a way to argue’. After reading the articles, I am finding that even though a lot of people seem to lump ‘arguing’ and ‘rhetoric’ together, they aren’t the same at all. I see it as a way to get my ideas out to others, without arguing or bullying them into believing what I see is the only correct view. I have dealt with numerous people in my life who did that, I would agree with them just to have them back off. It got to the point that I didn’t talk to them about certain subjects, just because I didn’t want to deal with it.

                Covino and Jolliffe had a couple great quotes. Aristotle stated that rhetoric is not meant to persuade but to see the available means to do so. Kenneth Burke mentions how if you take numerous voices together and just let them act together, you can get a truly functional dialect going. Which makes sense to me, how can you be friends with people if all you do when is argue back and forth, and there is not one ounce of decent conversation. You might not agree with everyone, but you can agree to disagree.

                I find it interesting that we as humans seem to have this quality about us that makes us want to have our point be the correct one. Or as a student, we try so hard to make our opinion of what we take away from readings and such, be valued highly by the instructor. We all have valuable ideas and opinions, but it doesn’t always mean they are right for certain instances. It makes sense that for any type of rhetoric to take place, the author really needs to know its audience. Authors need to realize at what level the audience will understand the text, or discussion, and also understand that any information being given, might be changed or rewritten depending on if is for immediate or mediated audiences. (Covino and Jolliffe, pgs 12-13) 

                The videos were interesting because I have never really thought of YouTube as being a media that is anything other than just goof-ball videos being posted online. I have watched a few decent videos on there, that show concern for people, but again the number is much greater of videos that are more or less pointless (in my opinion). For a career, I would love to be a grant writer for the tribal colleges here in Montana, but I haven’t really figured how I would use YouTube to help.  As the class session progresses, maybe I will get some ideas to hold onto when I am done with school.