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Native American Policy Overview

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Cultures +2 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old), Post-Secondary

During the late 19th century, reformers in the United States like Helen Hunt Jackson pushed for a change in attitude towards Native Americans. Rather than simply viewing them as enemies from whom land could be gained, these reformers promoted the concept of assimilation, or helping Native Americans adopt the characteristics of white culture that would allow them to be successful in American society. One of the ways they did this was through the use of Christian boarding schools for Native American children. Federal laws, like the Dawes Act of 1887, also supported this goal.

As you investigate the artifacts, images, and readings in this collection, consider whether you think assimilation was a beneficial policy for Native Americans. How did Native American families respond to assimilation?

Tags: point of view, assimilation, assimilate, American Indians, Carlisle, Jim Thorpe, allotment