Donna Purcell Order #591986 14 November 2011 Educating the Native Americans in Arizona: From 1891 until Today “It’s Cheaper to educate Indians than to kill them (Lindauer).” This was a statement made by Indian Commissioner Thomas Morgan while speaking at the establishment of the Phoenix Indian School in 1891…
The Indians were finally defeated militarily and made to settle themselves on reservations. Government leaders at the time believed it was time to exchange Natives lands for “the gift of civilization (Trennert).” This thought meant little to the Native Americans at the time, but the government was determined to make it a reality. According to the Indian Appropriation Act of March 3, 1871, Indians in the United States could not be recognized as an independent nation. Under this policy religious groups that included Methodist, Baptist and Catholics who had previously educated the Indians through missions were now receiving Federal support for their efforts in educating and civilizing them. In an attempt to separate church and state the religious affiliated schools were gradually dissolved and replaced with Federally controlled schools. The first school temporarily operated from the West End Hotel. Federal money allowed 160 acres to be purchased to complete the main school building by 1892. By 1900 the school grew to an enrollment of 698. The students consisted of tribes in Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada and Oregon; 23 tribes were represented. The campus had 14 brick and 20 frame buildings including the schoolhouse. The school also included dormitories, a water and sewer system, a bathhouse, a boiler house and 240 acres for growing crops. Farm animals were raised also to contribute to the schools self-sufficiency. It was thought that by taking the children from their natural environment it would keep them more in touch with American society. The Phoenix school was a non-reservation boarding school, which took the children away from their communal tribes and into a more Americanized setting. The established schools were normally located near the reservations, but the children were discouraged from contact with any of their relatives. The schools suffered from a lack of resources so they relied on child labor. The children were forced to spend part of their time on education and the other time making uniforms, cooking, doing laundry and other hard work. By the end of the 1880s the children had become a major role in maintaining the existence of the school. Many students ran away and returned to their families and the ways of their people. The Anglos or American settlers had a deep respect for the hard working Native Americans; however, they were determined to “Americanize” them (Trennert). The Mormons had a direct influence on the improvements being made within the Native American schools. Teachers were chosen who possessed a “positive religious character (Trennert).” The students were trained not only in academics but also in religion. In most of the Indian schools the students were not allowed to use their own tongue, therefore, English was required. By dressing the students in uniforms, they put forth an appearance of following what the white man had intended. The students were seen by the school superintendent as having to make their living by the sweat of their brow and not their brains (Trennert). When the school was opened a few of the students earned wages working for local employers, however, the wages were not those paid to white people, but they were considered satisfactory to the Indians. The girls were forced to clean rooms and dormitories which was seen as that “which makes a true woman…..ladylike, agreeable young ladies…who have made great strides toward civilization and the higher ...
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