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INDIAN SCHOOL by Michael L. Cooper


Teaching the White Man's Way

by Michael L. Cooper

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1999
ISBN: 0-395-92084-1
Publisher: Clarion

Cooper (Hell Fighters, 1997, etc.) takes a relatively dispassionate look at a cruel chapter in US government/Indian relations: the sometimes-forcible removal of children to Carlisle and other off-reservation boarding schools. Although he is guilty of overgeneralizing (in a chapter titled “The Indian Way”—as if there were but one—he states, “When they were teenagers, Native Americans married, had children, and went on the warpath”), the author makes a brave attempt to be evenhanded, balancing the schools’ renowned athletic accomplishments and prominent attendees (e.g., Jim Thorpe) against the harsh punishments, outright abuses, and ruthless cultural indoctrination to which students were subjected. Despite scattered successes, it is obvious that the ends were neither justified nor accomplished by the means. Since books about the Indian boarding schools tend to be either indictments or whitewashes, Cooper may skimp on the schools’ modern history, but by steering a middle course in his account of their origins, practices, educational philosophy, and early record, he allows readers to draw their own conclusions. Generous helpings of contemporary black-and-white photographs and statements give many students both voices and faces; a concluding list of sources (of varying reliability) includes web sites. (map, b&w photos and reproductions, further reading, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)