American Indian/First Nations Schooling: From the Colonial by Charles L. Glenn (auth.)

By Charles L. Glenn (auth.)

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I believe also that there is in the Indian a perfect capability of adapting himself to the customs of the white people . . ”35 The 1876 Indian Act “authorized the [Canadian] federal government to direct all of the activities of Indian people. . ”37 Not all Indian peoples became wards of government in the full sense; the “Five Civilized Nations,” in particular, were able with considerable success to maintain semi-independent status with an elaborated tribal government and a range of institutions similar to those of white society.

13 Determined to function as a self-governing “nation” after their forced exile to Indian Territory, the Cherokee National Council asserted its control over the education of its children by insisting that all schools must have their approval. “Although the Cherokee Nation permitted the missionaries to construct schools, these institutions remained private and were separate from the nation’s school system. ”14 The Council established, in 1838, a committee responsible for creating a Cherokee-operated educational system.

33 In 1880, a government official in Canada wrote, “Let us have Christianity and civilization among the Indian tribes; let us have a wise and paternal Government . . doing its utmost to help and elevate the Indian population, . . ”34 In some quarters, at least, there was optimism that this could be achieved. “I believe that there is through Canada a kindly feeling towards the Indian race,” wrote an Anglican clergyman active in the education of Indians in the 1870s, “that it is only their dirty habits, their undisciplined behaviour, and their speaking another language, that prevents their intermingling with the white people.

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