This book describes the impact of U.S. government civilization and education policies on a Native American family and its tribe from 1763 to 1995. While engaged in a personal quest for his family's roots in Choctaw tribal history, the author discovered a direct relationship between educational policies and their impact on his family and tribe. Combining personal narrative with traditional historical methodology, the author details how federal education policies concentrated power in a tribal elite that controlled its own school system in which students were segregated by social class and race.
The book begins with the cultural differences that existed between Native Americans and European colonists. The civilization policies discussed begin in the 1790s when both Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson searched for a means of gaining the lands occupied by the southern tribes, including the Choctaws. The story involves a complicated interaction between government policies, the agenda of white educators, and the desires of Native Americans. In a broader context, it is a study of the evolution of an American family from the extended support of the community and clan of the past, to the present world of single parents adrift without community or family safety nets.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface. Part I: Choctaws, Cherokees, and a Mixed-Blood Family Prior to Removal. A Basket of Apples. Indian Policy as Ideological Management. The Ghost Dance, Schools, and Social Classes. The Missionaries and Their Schools. Removal, Betrayal, and Death. Part II: A Choctaw Family and Its Tribe After Removal. The Choctaw Republic and Its People. Academies, Christian Families, and Anglo-Saxon Culture. "I am a slave instead of the Negroes": Segregation and Language. From Thomas Jefferson to Henry Ford: The End of the Choctaw Republic. Afterword: The Role of Schooling in Modern Society.
"Joel Spring has written a compelling book....a useful addition to the literature on 19th-century forced acculturation of Native Americans."
"Begun as a personal quest to recover his Native American roots, Joel Spring's project evolved into an interesting and valuable book that describes the intertwining of his own mixed-blood Choctaw ancestors and over one hundred years of history of that tribe's dealings with the U.S. government...the book weaves a complicated web of interrelationships between the agendas of federal and state governments, Protestant missionaries, and white educators, and the desires of Native Americans."
—Teachers College Record
"...a welcome and highly readable contribution to scholarship in the fields of history, anthropology, education, and American Indian studies. Morevoer, the book promises to be a significant contribution to the tribes whose histories Spring chronicles."
—Anthropology and Education Quarterly