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Indian School: Teaching the White Man's Way Hardcover – September 20, 1999

3.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1100L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books; First edition (September 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395920841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395920848
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,514,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Indian boarding school era encompassed one of the most blatant expressions of racism in the history of North America-the wholesale taking of Indian children away from their large extended families and tribal nations and thrusting them into a foreign world, where they were abruptly, systematically and totally deprived of their Indianness. In the boarding schools, children's names, languages and clothing were taken away and their sacred objects destroyed. They were beaten and worse-even jailed within the schools-for minor infractions of rules they didn't understand. They were made to eat lye soap for trying to communicate with each other in their own languages. Many children died in the boarding schools, of disease, malnutrition, and broken hearts. The rationale for the boarding schools was to "kill the Indian and save the man," as Carlisle founder Richard Henry Pratt was so fond of saying.
None of this is explained in poorly written, shallow and superficial treatment of the boarding school era for fourth- to sixth-graders.
Here, Cooper defends the indefensible by making sweeping generalizations about Native peoples ("When they were teenagers, Native Americans married, had children, and went on the warpath"), patronizing statements ("The chiefs were still angry about losing the sacred land..."), simplistic historical analyses ("White people wanted Indians to replace their teepees [sic] with houses and their bows and arrows with plows"), rationalizations ("Not only were Indian names difficult to pronounce, but names such as Ota Kte, which translated as Plenty Kill, evoked a savage past"), and euphemistic language to soft-pedal daily atrocities ("Punishment was not always fair").
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Format: Hardcover
The Indian Boarding School is one of the most horrific ideas anyone could have come up with to rid them selves of people. Children, often at very young ages, were taken, sometimes kidnapped, to a school far from their homes and families. As if this wasn't enough they were not allowed to speak their own languages, wear their own clothing, and practice traditions that had been in their cultures for countless generations. They were forced to become Christians, forced to speak English, and forced to wear Victorian-style clothing, and many more things. If they broke a rule they were severly punished. We are still feeling the affects of this today. Many tribes have or nearly have lost their language and traditions, and with them their sense of being unique. Of course none of this is told in Michael L. Cooper's "Indian School: Teaching the White Man's Way."
Mr Cooper wrote, "When they were teenagers Native Americans married, had children and went on the warpath." But Mr. Cooper fails to mention that many cultures married and had children as teenagers. They had to, life expectancy was so short, if they didn't they would die out. Many cultures still marry as teens today. It wasn't until just a few decades ago that many people stopped doing this.
And not all Native Americans thought the Black Hills were "the holiest spot on earth." I mean really in pre-Columbian times North America was covered with indigenous peoples, it is very hard to belive that all of them thought that the Black Hills were/are sacred.
I could go on and on about this book but the review has a maximum of 1,000 words so I will cut it short. This book stinks! I do not recommend it. Mr. Cooper could researched a lot better. I hope this book is never used as a reference to Indian Boarding School life. Thank You for your time.
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Format: Hardcover
this book is awful. we are not called indians. We are native americans. this book has so many stereotypes. My grandmother was taken from her family when she was 7 years old. she did not see her family until she was 16 years old. i am truly afended by this book because i am a native american and my family did go through the bording school era. All i have to say is that Michael L. Cooper should have researched more and thought about how we would be afected by this book.
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By A Customer on February 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is HORRIBLE! If you want to educate yourself or students or children - please skip this book. It will only fill your head with inaccurate and stereotypical information. This book is poorly researched and written without any Native American input at all (I know this is true because when asked during an interview if he talked to Native people about their experiences, he said Native people dont want to talk about it). He writes only from collected pieces of information that cover up boarding school crimes such as molestation, severe abuse and murder. Boarding schools were not happy times. Just because some great people came out of it does not mean it benefited them - it just means that these children would survive anything thrown at them. PLEASE do not read this book to children! Please!
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Format: Hardcover
This book was obviously written as an overview and directed to middle-schoolers. So, I forgive the author for delivering a report-style book. I am sure that the publisher required that the book be short and succinct. I have read some reviews by Native Americans who are offended by the weak reporting on the abuse that occurred in Indian Schools. As an adult reader, it was easy to read between the lines and imagine the horrific abuse that must have occurred in those schools. I think "Indian School" did its job of opening a naive reader's eyes and sparking an interest in learning more about the plight of Native Americans in the hands of European settlers. The author made it clear that the people who ran those schools were ignorant and not typically motivated to look out for the best interest of Native American children. This book opened my eyes to the tragic plight of the Native Americans, which was still underway just 132 short years ago. My daughter said "Surely no one in the world today would be so ignorant as to treat people like animals that needed to be domesticated", but any update on world news would prove otherwise. The book also made me ask myself, "What are the things in our world and my own life that I am blindly perpetuating because of ignorance and blind ambition?" I really think that the operators of those schools thought that they were looking out for the greater good. What a sad sad shame that the combination of ignorance, fear, and selfish ambition has stolen thousands of years of medicine, art, agriculture, and history from the people of North America.
After reading this, I have checked out 3 other books to learn more about Indian Schools and Native Americans.
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