Obert, Cy


After the American Revolution, the newly formed United States of America now had complete sovereignty with new ideologies, few more influential than their idea of Manifest Destiny. Manifest Destiny was the idea that it was justifiable and inevitable for the Americans to spread their reign from coast to coast. Thus, as they began to put this dream into action, they faced inevitable conflict from the Native Americans who resided throughout the western parts of the country. Americans instead of engaging in another war decided to, instead, civilize and “De-Indianize” the Native American population. This assimilation process, thus, brought forth an array of social changes for Native Americans.

Secretary of War John Calhoun said that “it was the duty of all employees in governemt-funded missions… to promote U.S. policies aimed at ‘civilizing’ Indians” (Grande).  Indians were “civilized” through education of the youth. They learned values such as the “Protestant work ethic” in hopes of transforming this primitive society into one which would help aid American Capitalistic ideals, ideals much different than Native American’s group mentality. This education, though, was not optional for Native Americans, for they were, in many cases, forcibly removed from their tribe at a young age and sent to boarding school. Boarding school was seen as place where Native American youth could go to be assimilated and be withheld from their tribes, thus keeping American ideologies in the forefront of their minds. This practice was used from the mid 19th century all the way up until the 20th century.

Training the Native American children to lose their cultural heritage, naturally changed the social structure of their culture. Many tribes lost their singular identity and were absorbed by another tribe. Also, Native Americans became more interested in owning land and materialistic goods. And politically, the Native Americans no longer resisted nor questioned the white man; they realized they were second class citizens in his world.


(Grande)– Red Pedagogy: Native American Social and Political Thought  By Sandy Grande