From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8-In the late 19th century, government-supported boarding schools were created to educate and assimilate Native American children into the overriding white culture. Cooper examines the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, one of the best known of the boarding schools, and some of its former students. The founder of Carlisle, Captain Richard Henry Pratt, was a former Buffalo soldier and Indian fighter, which may have adversely affected his treatment of Native children and their families. Individual student accounts, as well as fascinating photographs from the National Archives and the Army War College archives, add personal touches to the work. It is difficult to overstate the damages inflicted by these institutions on Native families. The author attempts to show some of the positive experiences, including the athletic development of Jim Thorpe, but glosses over the painful realities of the schools. Students were often kidnapped from their families and forced to abandon their languages, ways of life, and traditions to be assimilated into white culture. Good intentions aside, the boarding schools were part of an effort to destroy Native ways of life, which cannot be examined unemotionally or without a great deal of study. It is apparent that the author has no background in Native studies as offensive generalizations about beliefs and practices, as well as the use of improper names, flow throughout the book. While the boarding schools need to be studied, librarians and teachers should seek out individual accounts by former inhabitants rather than confuse students with this stereotypical and inaccurate work.Mary B. McCarthy, ACLIN/Colorado State Library, Denver
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
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 onehe 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) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.