Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sarah Schillinger's Case Study of the Catholic Boarding School in Keshena, Wisconsin

Before multiculturalism caught on, the United States was known as a melting pot, meaning that people from many ethnic or national backgrounds came to America and then assimilated or gave up their backgrounds and became "Americans."

On pages 114 to 118 of her book, A Case Study of the American Indian Boarding School Movement: An Oral History of Saint Joseph's Indian Industrial School, Sarah Schillinger reviews the academic literature on this issue and tells us that it is more accurate to say that European immigrants had the opportunity to integrate into American culture instead of being forced to assimilate. Europeans that came to this country formed communities of other immigrants that spoke the same language. Often this revolved around membership in ethnic-based churches.

Schillinger's point, of course, is that forced assimilation by means of Indian boarding schools was not only harmful to Indians, but also that it was an abuse that families of European immigrants never had to take.

Are you wondering how Menominee children were forced to speak English?
On page 102, Schillinger reports that the Catholic boarding school placed Menominee children in dormatories with English-speaking Stockbridge and Oneida children.

No comments :