Between the Lines

Random reflections from the youth in a juvenile correctional facility.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Native American Heritage Month

Carlisle Indian Industrial School

From Debbie Reese’s American Indians in Children’s Literature

In Cheyenne Again, Bunting tells the story of a 10-year-old Cheyenne boy who, in the late 1880s, is taken far from his family and sent to Carlisle Indian Industrial School, more than 1,000 miles away, to “learn the White Man’s ways.” “The corn is drying out,” his father says. “There will be food in this place they call school. Young Bull must go.”

Toddy’s acrylic and oil paintings are perfect for a boarding school story, especially when he contrasts the open, light expanse of the Great Plains with the depressingly dark confines of the school. The child’s pain also, as Young Bull’s hair is forcibly cut while others, with short hair, look on. And his running away, with only a thin blanket for cover, into a blizzard. Toddy has been there. As a former student at Intermountain Indian School in Utah, he holds the stories in his heart.

In Bunting’s telling, on the other hand, conditions appear far better than they were. “Kill the Indian, save the man”—Captain Richard Henry Pratt’s harsh motto—was much more indicative of the treatment meted out to the lonely, miserable children than Bunting cares to reveal. Children whose parents voluntarily sent them to Carlisle went there, not to “learn the White Man’s ways,” but to learn English. Bunting does not mention the many deaths—from malnutrition, from diseases, from beatings, from broken hearts. Nor does she mention the jail cells and the arbitrary punishment such as having lye rubbed into young mouths for the sin of not knowing what was expected. She whitewashes the abject wretchedness of the children’s lives.

There would have been no kindly teacher to offer “salve to sooth the place the chain has rubbed,” to console a child by telling him, “Never forget that you are Indian inside. Don’t let us take your memories.” Pratt’s “teaching” methodology was designed to force the children to deny—and later, forget—their Indianness, inside and out. Any teacher encouraging a child to remember who he was would have been fired on the spot.

American Indians are still experiencing discrimination and disrespect. (See Changing Winds Advocacy Center ) Do you feel racism is still being practiced in the United States? Why do you think this is or is not so? What cultures do you think are the victims of racism? How can you demonstrate respect for other cultures’ beliefs and practices?

For more information about activities for Native American Heritage Month see


Yes, racism is being practiced in the U.S. in every day routines like jobs and even in school. Racism is being practiced in school because some people think they are better than others – all whites, blacks, everyone. I can demonstrate respect for other’s cultures and beliefs by showing that there are some decent people out there. MC


Racism is still being practiced in the U.S. because some White people believe the Black people are trash. I think racism exists because of slavery. Black and White cultures are victimized. I can show respect by helping them, reading books to learn about their culture, ask the teacher, and visit other countries. JW


I believe that people show racism because times before we were born people practiced it so it just passed on from one generation to the next. Now after slavery, we have African Americans trying to reclaim there dignity and reputation in the world and are pointing their finger at the white people. On the other hand, the white people of today are sitting there saying it wasn’t my fault, it was the generations before me. Now we have a war to see who will come out on top. White Americans are looking at the black African Americans that live in the ghetto saying this isn’t the way an American should act or live while the blacks are saying the same thing.

It also goes into religion. Muslims are fighting others who don’t want to plead to them and say that that is the way of the devil. You have Christians saying that the only way to get to heaven is to believe that Jesus Christ died for are sins and that you got to go by the bible so then they are saying every one who dose not believe in it will not see eternal glory so really it is a big battle of morals values and beliefs.

What I do is I listen to what all have to say and I try to defend every one and try to give everyone a chance. I don’t stick to one thing, I’m just open minded and I think that if more people were like that then we wouldn’t have so many problems in the world. People are so close-minded that they can’t see what others see. MC

Racism is still being practiced in the United States because the organized gangs like the KKK , White Pride, etc. people are hating one another for their skin color or religion. All cultures are a victim of racism. You can have respect for other cultures by helping others with or trying to better understand the other religion before hating it . CRO

I feel that racism is still being practiced in some place. There are Whites being hated on, and Blacks and Mexicans. It all depends where you are. This is because of how things were long ago. Some people still holding grudges. Others hate because of their pride or trying to fit in with others so they put on a show because of the way others do things.

I can demonstrate respect to other cultures by interacting with them on a regular basis and not treating them any different than anyone else. I can also invite them to things in my culture. I have no problems with any culture. We are all the same in my eyes. DG

Yes, I think that people around the world are showing racism. They still act like things are not their fault and they take things out on the wrong people. Some people are being real. I think this way. I see things because I feel bad deep down inside. These racist people are being out of control. People are still being hung and tortured around the world for nothing. I think every culture around the world is being a victim, especially Blacks because they get to deal with the thoughts of slavery. I will show them by caring for them and listening to what they have to say. LZ

Yes, I feel racism is still being practiced. As long as there are different colors, races, religions, beliefs, looks, etc. there are still going to be people that say theirs are more superior to everyone else’s. All cultures are victims or racism. That’s a fact. White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, and everyone else are discriminated against with prejudice. That’s just the way it is. Me personally, I’m far from racist. I’m around racist people and they say stuff to me. I have a choice to same something racist back but I don’t because it’s not right. I would be going against my morals if I would do that. I can demonstrate help by setting up jamborees for people of all cultures. Have a little fair or something bringing all races together. Respect other beliefs and cultures. MD

I think that racism is still being used in the United States because there are still members of the KKK around who think that black people aren’t worth a thing and there has been a lot of segregation in other states. The cultures that I think are victims of racism the most are the African American culture and the Hispanic culture. I can demonstrate how to be respectful by letting these cultures know that everything is going to be alright if they keep there head up. MR

I do think that racism is still practiced today. There are not just one or two people that are being racist. There are people that grew up and their parents teach them that one group or type of people is better than another. This is why some people join a gang or a club that supports this type of mentality that they grew up on. I think this because it’s in every state, every city, and it’s even in your neighborhood. It is easy to change a child’s mind. All you have to tell them is that their race is better than another, and show them that others are bad, tell them that others don’t care about you and they don’t want to be your friend. When these kids get older and they start to have kids, they are going to show their kids that this group is better than theirs and so on and so forth. What adults have to do is show the kids that we can all be friends and all help each other. STOP ALL THE VIOLENCE AND START A NEW REVOLUTION. JP


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