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The first successful attempts to colonize America on the part of the Anglo-Saxons were made during the first quarter of the seventeenth century. Immediately the struggle set in between brutal greed and a certain irrepressible spirit of fair play on the part of the intruding race in their intercourse with the Indians. Greed saw in the Indian a hateful obstacle in the way of its advance in the acquisition of territory. Fair play, aided by a nascent spirit of broad Christianity and genuine philanthropy, emphasized in the Indian his essential humanity and labored to lead him, for the sake of his own salvation, to a recognition of the fatherhood of God and to lift him into a condition that would render him worthy of being received as a full equal into the brotherhood of man. This struggle is still going on with shifting success. Yet, on the whole, humanity and fair play are steadily gaining.

The intellectual and spiritual upheavals of the sixteenth century, which had culminated in Bacon and Luther, had directed thought to education as the chief reliance in the liberation of the race from the trammels of superstition, and in leading him out of the worship of physical prowess to the recognition of his duty to God and man. Naturally, therefore, those who sought the conversion and uplifting of the Indian directed their attention primarily to efforts for his education. The very charters, granted to the colonizing companies, breathed the hope that their work might bring about “the enlargement of God's kingdom among the heathen people.”

The present system of Indian education, under the direction of the government of the United States, is in no way the outcome of a deliberate and carefully-conceived plan on the part of Washington officials. It is descended directly from the first attempts in Indian education on the part of Virginia, and more particularly on the part of New England. Here its seeds were planted. From these it derives certain inherent, vital principles, rooted in a broad Christianity and a fervent philanthropy which have enabled it to withstand blights of partisanship, of greed and rapacity on the part of spoilsmen, of incompetence on the part of teachers, of race prejudice on the part of settlers and other unfavorable conditions of environment and policy.


A remarkable pioneer work, and of a typical character, was done by Rev. John Eliot in Massachusetts. Mr. Eliot was actuated by motives of broadest Christianity and purest philanthropy. His simple measures were chosen with consummate wisdom. In the first place he familiarized himself with the language, disposition and character of his Indians. Then, by according them the same, he secured their confidence and respect and stimulated in their hearts reverence and a sincere desire for the industry and thrift, the godliness and purity of life, of which New England communities afforded the example. Those who would follow him he gathered in towns, where he taught them the liberties and responsibilities of township government and the devices and institutions of civilized life, among which the church and the school naturally occupied places of honor. A number of “choice Indian youths” he induced to attend English schools that they might prepare themselves for missionary work as teachers and catechists among their own people.

He was warmly supported in his work by “the corporation for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts," by the general court of Massachusetts and, particularly, by Mr. Daniel Gookins, the official superintendent of the Indians in Massachusetts. Mr. Eliot began his work in 1646. In 1674 there were fourteen towns of “praying Indians" whose schools and churches, in the majority of instances, were administered by educated natives. At the same time, an Indian college had been founded at Cambridge. Yet, in due time, this success was swept away by the fears and prejudices which developed under the baneful influences of the Indian wars. Similar successful work under the direction of Revs. John Cotton and Richard Bourne in Plymouth colony shared the same fate.


Other memorable efforts in the eighteenth century were robbed of their fruits by similar causes, intensified by a number of disorganizing factors incident to the revolutionary period. Prominent among these is the work of Rev. John Sergeant at Stockbridge in Massachusetts and that of Rev. Eleazer Wheelock in Connecticut and New Hampshire.

The work of Mr. Sergeant, which involved the establishment of day schools, of a boarding school and an experimental “outing system," was almost ideal in conception, but ended with the deportation of his Indians to the west. Dr. Wheelock's labors led to the establishment of an effective training school and, indirectly, to the creation of Dartmouth college “for the education and instruction of youths of the Indian tribes in this land in reading, writing, and all parts of learning which shall appear necessary and expedient for civilizing and christianizing the children of pagans, as well as in all liberal arts and sciences, and also of English youths and any others.” Only the last purpose was destined for achievement.


It is interesting to note that, in spite of practically total external failure, the spirit and even much of the form of these early enterprises persisted. Their impress is observable to-day in almost every prominent feature of the Indian school organization of the United States.

Among these I would point out the establishment of day schools in or near Indian villages or settlements and their organization as a means for the domestic and industrial uplifting of Indian family and village life, as well as for the instruction of children; the establishment of industrial boarding schools in territory occupied by Indians, with their opportunities for introducing among the young a taste for the amenities and refinements, as well as for the duties and responsibilities of civilization; the establishment in civilized English-speaking communities of advanced training schools for the fuller equipment of “choice Indian youths" for full citizenship in white communities or for missionary work in the ideals, institutions, and arts of civilization among their own people; the universal stress in all schools upon instruction of boys in the arts of husbandry and certain trades and of girls in the domestic arts; the “outing system" which places partially educated Indian girls and boys as paid helpers in suitable English-speaking families and affords them instruction in the ordinary public schools; the importance attached to religious and ethical training.


On the other hand, it is to be deplored that a number of valuable features of the early schools have been abandoned and even supplanted by opposite tendencies. Among the latter are to be reckoned the unintelligent warfare waged against the Indian idiom ; the introduction of certain brutalities of military discipline under the influence of soldiers who for a time controlled Indian schools; an equally unintelligent effort on the part of some schools to wean Indian youth from Indian association by throwing contempt upon the Indian and by stimulating a feeling akin to hatred of Indian family ties; and a variety of measures and devices inspired by a policy of compulsion and repression, rather than by a spirit of development and benevolent helpfulness.

Serious harm came to the government schools from time to time from the fact that until 1893 patronage and partisanship entered as a weighty, perhaps the weightiest, factor in the appointment of officers and employees. Thanks to the constant vigilance of the Indian rights association, the Mohonk conference and a number of other societies earnestly interested in the welfare of the Indians, these evils are steadily yielding. They have been greatly reduced since 1893 by the application of civil service rules to school employees, and it is hoped that in these matters every new dawn will bring a better day.


Before entering upon a descriptive account of the Indian school work of the present day, it is desirable to indicate in a few words the successive steps that have led to their organization.

After the revolution, congress and the country as a whole were so much absorbed with the duties of self-establishment that little heed was paid to Indian education. A number of minor appropriations are recorded on the basis of treaties with a few tribes, and at a few points missionary zeal continued a fitful activity. During the first quarter of the nineteenth century, however, a great religious revival again directed general attention to Indian education as a Christian and national duty.


Missionary bodies took up the work with renewed zeal. Congress responded in 1819 with an appropriation of $10,000 in addition to certain treaty obligations. In 1820 the president was authorized to apply this sum annually in aid of societies and individuals engaged in the education of Indians. In 1823 the sum of $80,000 was expended in 21 schools maintained by missionary bodies; $12,000 of this amount had been contributed by the government.

In 1825 the number of such schools had risen to 38, the entire expenditure for these to $202,000, of which the government, directly and indirectly, had contributed $25,000. In 1848 there were reported in operation 16 manual training schools, 87 boarding schools and other schools.

These schools continued to increase in number and efficiency up to 1873. They were under the control of missionary bodies with such scanty aid from the government as

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