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The last Indian War was fought against Native American children in the dormitories and classrooms of government boarding schools. Only by removing Indian children from their homes for extended periods of time, policymakers reasoned, could white civilization take root while childhood memories of savagism gradually faded to the point of extinction. In the words of one offici The last Indian War was fought against Native American children in the dormitories and classrooms of government boarding schools. Only by removing Indian children from their homes for extended periods of time, policymakers reasoned, could white civilization take root while childhood memories of savagism gradually faded to the point of extinction. In the words of one official: Kill the Indian and save the man. Education for Extinction offers the first comprehensive account of this dispiriting effort. Much more than a study of federal Indian policy, this book vividly details the day-to-day experiences of Indian youth living in a total institution designed to reconstruct them both psychologically and culturally. The assault on identity came in many forms: the shearing off of braids, the assignment of new names, uniformed drill routines, humiliating punishments, relentless attacks on native religious beliefs, patriotic indoctrinations, suppression of tribal languages, Victorian gender rituals, football contests, and industrial training. Especially poignant is Adams's description of the ways in which students resisted or accommodated themselves to forced assimilation. Many converted to varying degrees, but others plotted escapes, committed arson, and devised ingenious strategies of passive resistance. Adams also argues that many of those who seemingly cooperated with the system were more than passive players in this drama, that the response of accommodation was not synonymous with cultural surrender. This is especially apparent in his analysis of students who returned to the reservation. He reveals the various ways in which graduates struggled to make sense of their lives and selectively drew upon their school experience in negotiating personal and tribal survival in a world increasingly dominated by white men. The discussion comes full circle when Adams reviews the government's gradual retreat from the assimilationist vision. Partly because of persistent student resistance, but also partly because of a complex and sometimes contradictory set of progressive, humanitarian, and racist motivations, policymakers did eventually come to view boarding schools less enthusiastically Based upon extensive use of government archives, Indian and teacher autobiographies, and school newspapers, Adams's moving account is essential reading for scholars and general readers alike interested in Western history, Native American studies, American race relations, education history, and multiculturalism.


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The last Indian War was fought against Native American children in the dormitories and classrooms of government boarding schools. Only by removing Indian children from their homes for extended periods of time, policymakers reasoned, could white civilization take root while childhood memories of savagism gradually faded to the point of extinction. In the words of one offici The last Indian War was fought against Native American children in the dormitories and classrooms of government boarding schools. Only by removing Indian children from their homes for extended periods of time, policymakers reasoned, could white civilization take root while childhood memories of savagism gradually faded to the point of extinction. In the words of one official: Kill the Indian and save the man. Education for Extinction offers the first comprehensive account of this dispiriting effort. Much more than a study of federal Indian policy, this book vividly details the day-to-day experiences of Indian youth living in a total institution designed to reconstruct them both psychologically and culturally. The assault on identity came in many forms: the shearing off of braids, the assignment of new names, uniformed drill routines, humiliating punishments, relentless attacks on native religious beliefs, patriotic indoctrinations, suppression of tribal languages, Victorian gender rituals, football contests, and industrial training. Especially poignant is Adams's description of the ways in which students resisted or accommodated themselves to forced assimilation. Many converted to varying degrees, but others plotted escapes, committed arson, and devised ingenious strategies of passive resistance. Adams also argues that many of those who seemingly cooperated with the system were more than passive players in this drama, that the response of accommodation was not synonymous with cultural surrender. This is especially apparent in his analysis of students who returned to the reservation. He reveals the various ways in which graduates struggled to make sense of their lives and selectively drew upon their school experience in negotiating personal and tribal survival in a world increasingly dominated by white men. The discussion comes full circle when Adams reviews the government's gradual retreat from the assimilationist vision. Partly because of persistent student resistance, but also partly because of a complex and sometimes contradictory set of progressive, humanitarian, and racist motivations, policymakers did eventually come to view boarding schools less enthusiastically Based upon extensive use of government archives, Indian and teacher autobiographies, and school newspapers, Adams's moving account is essential reading for scholars and general readers alike interested in Western history, Native American studies, American race relations, education history, and multiculturalism.

30 review for Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928

  1. 4 out of 5

    Craig Werner

    A barely adequate overview of a crucial topic in Native American history. Adams synthesizes a fair amount of material concerning the philosophical, political and institutional history of the boarding schools. But he doesn't add anything at all to his sources and he fails to find a consistent perspective on the contradictions that doomed the schools to failure. He gestures towards the problem at the outset, indicating that he's using the language of "savagery" and "progress" (etc.) because it was A barely adequate overview of a crucial topic in Native American history. Adams synthesizes a fair amount of material concerning the philosophical, political and institutional history of the boarding schools. But he doesn't add anything at all to his sources and he fails to find a consistent perspective on the contradictions that doomed the schools to failure. He gestures towards the problem at the outset, indicating that he's using the language of "savagery" and "progress" (etc.) because it was the one that shaped the policies. Fair enough, but even in his chapters on Native responses to the schools, he slips back into the language of justification. A policy is judged a failure because it doesn't realize the goals of the colonial project. Adams clearly doesn't believe that, but it's what he writes and the farther I went, the angrier it made me. He never makes it clear that the whole notion that attendance was "voluntary" was a fiction, even though he does detail the unpleasant fact that it required military force and/or the withholding of rations to fill enrollment quotas. For now, this is the standard book on the subject, but it has to be read with a highly critical eye. We need something better.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Worden

    The book education for extinction is an exciting and intricate read on the boarding school experience for Native American Children. The book highlights the personal narratives of these children to better elaborate on the narrative. Using a combination of personal narratives with legal documents creates a more through story of boarding schools. Education for Extinction makes it easy for readers to understand the boarding school experience but lacks a connection to single individuals. David Wallace The book education for extinction is an exciting and intricate read on the boarding school experience for Native American Children. The book highlights the personal narratives of these children to better elaborate on the narrative. Using a combination of personal narratives with legal documents creates a more through story of boarding schools. Education for Extinction makes it easy for readers to understand the boarding school experience but lacks a connection to single individuals. David Wallace Adams, the author of this monograph is a Kansas native. He now works as a professor at Cleveland State. Adams main focus is in education, rather then history. This connects to his works focusing on childhood as well as educational systems of minors in his works. This particular book was published originally in 1995 but has gone through several reprints. The books itself focuses on the Native American boarding school experience on children in America. Specifically the role this experience played on the culture. The books goes into detail explaining the legislation used along with the boarding schools, as well as a brief history on the schools themselves. Adams then continues on explaining the role the schools played on the culture as well as Native Americans as a group. The books does an excellent job of highlighting what the boarding school experience entailed for groups. Uses personal narratives to convey the hardships felt by many attending the schools. Adams also combines legislation to provide a bigger picture point of view in terms of the country. Combining all of these helps the reader feel an emotional connection to the book and directly the individuals influenced by boarding schools. Although Adams connects the reader to boarding schools on an emotional level, he does not connect to individuals. Grouping experiences together takes away from the individual nature of personal narratives. Although this helps provide a case study within the book it does seem to detract from each person as their own individual entity. By taking away this individualistic view point he creates a blanketed narrative for readers. Unlike in some journal articles were the highlighting is on the role boarding schools played in a more positive light. Thus by grouping Native American as a whole within his books Adams directly detracts from the deeper narrative. The book Education for Extinction emotionally connects readers to the experiences of boarding school children but creates an all inclusive narrative by grouping experiences. Adams creates a heartfelt and emotionally charged book that is great for readers to get an introduction into boarding schools. I gave this book an overall rating of 4/5 stars as it was a great read that introduced me to this narrative but I felt it did lack an individual nature.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeni

    Adams, David Wallace. Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928. Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1997. Education for Extinction by David Wallace Adams, who was an associate professor at Cleveland State University, has been one of the most authoritative books dealing with Native American boarding schools/education. Adams described the harsh conditions Native American children faced as they were sent to boarding schools controlled by whites with t Adams, David Wallace. Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928. Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1997. Education for Extinction by David Wallace Adams, who was an associate professor at Cleveland State University, has been one of the most authoritative books dealing with Native American boarding schools/education. Adams described the harsh conditions Native American children faced as they were sent to boarding schools controlled by whites with the intention of assimilating and Americanizing these Native American children. I am researching the Thomas Indian School for my senior thesis, and Adam’s book provides a fantastic overview of what Native American children experienced at various other boarding schools. Adams utilized both Native American accounts and government documents in his research, which was very accurate. Autobiographies proved to be a great resource as Adam’s built the Native American perspective. Education for Extinction will be a great resource for anyone trying to gain insight into the white approach to Native American education in the late 19th and early 20th century. It was written in 1995, so it is more current than other books concerning this topic. It covers the years 1875-1928, so it’s scope is limited if you desire to learn more about the later years of Native American boarding schools. Adam’s approach the book by looking at federal policy, how the policy was implemented, and student reaction to policies. A bibliography and index are also included in the book. This is a scholarly book at a college reading level but anyone interested in learning about Native American boarding schools could easily read Education for Extinction. Overall, Education for Extinction is an extremely authoritative work on Native American boarding schools and successfully shares the heartbreaking account of boarding schools during the assimilation era.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    4.5 stars to be exact. This is a fabulous overview of the entire boarding school system, its formation, faults and strengths. Crucially, it attempts to give equal weight to the perspectives of the government, Indian nations, parents, students, teachers, and administrators when covering this brambly subject in a particularly tragic era of Native American history. En route, Wallace covered the rhetoric and motivations of US Politicians and Christian Reformers that led to the formation of this syst 4.5 stars to be exact. This is a fabulous overview of the entire boarding school system, its formation, faults and strengths. Crucially, it attempts to give equal weight to the perspectives of the government, Indian nations, parents, students, teachers, and administrators when covering this brambly subject in a particularly tragic era of Native American history. En route, Wallace covered the rhetoric and motivations of US Politicians and Christian Reformers that led to the formation of this system, whose efforts bring to mind the old adage of "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". The only discussion area I found lacking in this volume was that although Wallace clearly demonstrates the problems that this brutal form of education created for individual students, he failed to link the boarding school system to the degradation of Indigenous communities. These students are now referred to as "the lost generations" and more modern literature connects many problems in Indian communities (especially loss of native languages) to these former students who returned to find themselves in a liminal state, acculturated to neither the ehite nor Indian worlds. Although I prefer this volume above others I've read on the same topic, I would still assign Brenda Child's "Boarding School Seasons" to undergrads instead of this one - it is briefer, more streamlined in terms of information included, and a bit more personal. However, for preparing lectures, Wallace's book is the go-to source!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Very good overview of the Native American boarding school experience, from its inception after the Civil War to the 1920's. (It should be noted that several boarding schools continued after the 1920's, so I was left wondering why the author stopped there.) The book is organized into sections: the first explores the reasons for the NA boarding schools formation and the history of that formation, the next describes what the schools were physically like, the next explores what was taught in the sch Very good overview of the Native American boarding school experience, from its inception after the Civil War to the 1920's. (It should be noted that several boarding schools continued after the 1920's, so I was left wondering why the author stopped there.) The book is organized into sections: the first explores the reasons for the NA boarding schools formation and the history of that formation, the next describes what the schools were physically like, the next explores what was taught in the schools, and the last deals with the reaction both by graduates and by the American culture at large to the schools. Very good overview that is both thorough and detached.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I learned a good deal. The book cites important primary sources that shed light on attitudes towards the Natives in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is worth the read for anyone interested in learning how the government and missionaries used education to strip the Native Americans of their names, manner of dress, music, ceremonies, worship, and language. Sadly, there are too many parallels between then and now.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John Bohnert

    I knew very little about boarding schools for Native Americans until I read this informative book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Trudy Stachowiak

    A difficult but important book to read because it’s another reminder of what our country has done to anyone who is non-white. That’s all I have to say.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    "He is born a blank like the rest of us. Left in the surroundings of savagery, he grows to possess a savage language, susperstition, and life. We, left in the surroundings of civilization, grow to possess a civilized language, life, and purpose." With compelling anecdotes, letters between family members, and thorough research, David Wallace Adams tells a thoroughly disturbing account of the assault on Indian children by policy and actors like the unwavering Captain Pratt. For non-fiction, it was "He is born a blank like the rest of us. Left in the surroundings of savagery, he grows to possess a savage language, susperstition, and life. We, left in the surroundings of civilization, grow to possess a civilized language, life, and purpose." With compelling anecdotes, letters between family members, and thorough research, David Wallace Adams tells a thoroughly disturbing account of the assault on Indian children by policy and actors like the unwavering Captain Pratt. For non-fiction, it was gripping...how could one have ever expected a child, trembling in fear and stripped of all he has ever known, to accomodate a new identity, rituals, and lifestyle? The mission of civilization was contested throughout, but did these schools truly "fail"?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    This book was a really interesting read for me because I didn't know much about the Native American education system of the late 1800's - early 1900's previously. It highlights the underlying problem of the painful compromise between preserving traditional lifeways and "civilizing"/modernizing indigenous peoples. As the daughter of two former teachers for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, I found the topic fascinating. Adams offers a balanced and thorough examination of the historical context and po This book was a really interesting read for me because I didn't know much about the Native American education system of the late 1800's - early 1900's previously. It highlights the underlying problem of the painful compromise between preserving traditional lifeways and "civilizing"/modernizing indigenous peoples. As the daughter of two former teachers for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, I found the topic fascinating. Adams offers a balanced and thorough examination of the historical context and political issues.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mitch

    An important book for those who work with Native students, those are curious about American history, or have a passion for understanding how the educational system in the United States came into being. The book feels somewhat repetitive, disjointed, and alternates between historical record and biographical narrative. Perhaps choosing one style would have made the read more enjoyable. That said, this book taught me many things and I am better for reading it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aannedomm

    Adams explores many aspects of the boarding school system for American Indians throughout this work, touching on changing views towards Native American education and the actions of policymakers. The book is well organized and enjoyable to read and Adams takes the reader on a journey, placing them in the perspective of the student, teachers, and politicians. Throughout the book Adams' arguments are backed up through a solid use of historical sources. Adams explores many aspects of the boarding school system for American Indians throughout this work, touching on changing views towards Native American education and the actions of policymakers. The book is well organized and enjoyable to read and Adams takes the reader on a journey, placing them in the perspective of the student, teachers, and politicians. Throughout the book Adams' arguments are backed up through a solid use of historical sources.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aramie

    Very interesting (and heartbreaking) read. It is a history book, so some may find it a bit dry. Boarding schools were set up for Indian children in the 1800s in an attempt to "kill the Indian and save the man." This book tells the story of how these schools came about and how they were received by the Indian nations who sent their children there to be schooled. Very interesting (and heartbreaking) read. It is a history book, so some may find it a bit dry. Boarding schools were set up for Indian children in the 1800s in an attempt to "kill the Indian and save the man." This book tells the story of how these schools came about and how they were received by the Indian nations who sent their children there to be schooled.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    A clear and balanced look at boarding schools, especially the off-reservation schools, run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs through about 1926. While the schools did provide some benefits, the overall purpose was to eradicate every trace of Indian cultures from the students and replace it with those of the white man.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sinistmer

    Very well written and engaging, this book is an excellent discussion of American policy toward Native Americans. I also thought it was a balanced discussion that did not take too many liberties with the available information.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Liz Simmons

    A lot of important information on a topic that has been under-researched. I wish the writing was more readable and that the book was organized a bit differently. Still, one of the key works on the American Indian boarding school experience.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jezcab

    My grandfather went to a Carlisle School, I was given the book by a teacher friend of mine and it's very enlightening thus far. I keep having to take a break from the aggravation, but it is extensive and informative! My grandfather went to a Carlisle School, I was given the book by a teacher friend of mine and it's very enlightening thus far. I keep having to take a break from the aggravation, but it is extensive and informative!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Allison6876

    Read for AMIN 3201W paper

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chow

    Interesting how Native Am children were put into white schools to take the "native" out of them. How they coped with being away from their normal lives, how the system changed through the years. Interesting how Native Am children were put into white schools to take the "native" out of them. How they coped with being away from their normal lives, how the system changed through the years.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    An enlightening historical account that reminds us that even well-intentioned education is a form of paradigm hegemony.... sometimes blatantly and destructively, as is the case here.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Morales

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Barker

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily Dehmer

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

  25. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Gonzalez

    Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928 is a genuine book written for those interested in studies related to Native Americans, education in America, and cultural genocides. The study of Native Americans has surfaced to attention by activists and historians in recent times through awareness coming from the recognition of wrong doings in the past. David Wallace, the author of this work and a professor at Cleveland State University, is a contributor Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928 is a genuine book written for those interested in studies related to Native Americans, education in America, and cultural genocides. The study of Native Americans has surfaced to attention by activists and historians in recent times through awareness coming from the recognition of wrong doings in the past. David Wallace, the author of this work and a professor at Cleveland State University, is a contributor to this raising of awareness of Native Americans. This book was published by the University Press of Kansas and has gone through several reprintings although first printed in 1995. This book is useful as the description, pictures and organization allow for a simple understanding meanwhile it becomes a little confusing because he does not address resistance from tribes as much as it should be and he contradicts the way he perceives things. The book is divided into four separate sections that are arranged in chronological order. These four sections focus on the civilization, education, response, and in a sense the after math of the assimilation era. The civilization section primarily recounts the views at the time and lists the goals of educating and assimilating the Indians. Education is based on the way the boarding schools ran and how they evolved from day schools to off reservation boarding schools as well as bringing in Captain Pratt. The response aims at how the Indians reacted and how they took initiatives. The final section emphasizes on the happenings after the assimilation era. The books biggest strengths were that it was very descriptive and gave examples during the times he would talk about more important situations. An example of this is how descriptive he was during the description of Pratt’s first experiment with the Indian prisoners. He provided a fair amount of description, mentioning how long they stayed for, how many they were, and the things they accomplished afterwards. He even added images to reinforce his story and the photographs that were included throughout the work give a break from all the heavy information presented and they give a visual of the conditions. The book also does a superb job in explaining the evolution of boarding schools and the reasons behind the initial evolutions. Everything has weaknesses and this book’s first weakness was that he does not focus as much on the resistance of tribes and individuals. He makes it seem like they were completely forced for the most part, which they were in some cases, but not as much as is suggested. He conveys his messages in a way that takes away from the Native American’s agency, victimizing them in a way. His perceptions also contradict themselves. An example comes in Pratt as he is initially given the image of a person in favor of working with Indians because instead of executing Indians he spared and educated them. Later in the book, he is perceived as a stubborn assimilation agent that relentlessly battled to end Indian Cultures. Education for extinction attracts and convinces readers because of all the detailed information provided strategically within the organization but it seems a little empty and confuses because of the lack of some examples and the contradictions. The book is good at explaining the basic knowledge required to understand education in the assimilation era at a reasonable, college level, so I rate it with 4 stars because it accomplishes what it needs to. The audience must keep into account that to better understand this time period, more research on individuals on the sides of the Indians as well as the Anglo-Americans is needed.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dani

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tabitha Mühlheim

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pierre Arnette

  30. 5 out of 5

    Greatbert

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