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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Boarding school idea failed, speaker says

By Mohamed Mansour/ reporter

NE students learned about the hardships Native Americans dealt with during Genocide in America: The Boarding School Experience Nov. 16.

“Kill the Indian, save the man,” said Lisa Uhlir, a Native American and NE government professor.

The phrase was used as a saying to Americanize Native Americans, she said.

To achieve this Americanization, “kids between ages 4 and 7 were taken to boarding school, which was never close to their homes,” she said.

To go home for a visit, the child’s family needed to send advance cash for the two-way trip. Once at the school, rules were strict, Uhlir said.

“You can’t speak your language,” she said. “If you talked in a language besides English, you would be beat.”

Uhlir said her grandfather was thrown into a cell and forgotten about for three days because he did not follow the rules.

“He had to eat worms to survive,” she said.

Indian catchers would capture any student trying to escape and torture them, Uhlir said. The death rate for Native Americans was 40 percent, she said.

There was “excessive starvation at the boarding school,” she said. “Kids were given lard, bread and oatmeal.”

Uhlir told a story from a book about a girl who sent a letter back home to her parents saying, “I am always hungry. We are treated like pigs.”

Living conditions were horrible and unsanitary, Uhlir said. Children slept two or three to a bed.

“None of the bathrooms at the school had soap, and they shared one towel,” she said.

When children were about to die, the schools would send them back home, Uhlir said.

The school would often “lease you to local families to be their servants,” she said. “The money you earned would go to the school.”

Students tried to rebel in their own way by burning buildings, talking in their language and running away, Uhlir said.

Native Americans have an 80 percent high school dropout rate, the highest among any minorities, Uhlir said.

“[They] feel like schools don’t respect their culture,” she said.

Native American youth are also traumatized from the past experience in their culture’s history, Uhlir said.

 

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