Assimilation and Activism: An Analysis of Native Boarding School Curriculum and Native Student Activism in the 20th Century
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This paper will examine Native American student retaliation and activism in the face of assimilationist educational policies and curriculum at both the Warm Springs Boarding School on the Warm Springs Reservation, and at Chemawa Boarding School in Salem Oregon, from the 1930s to the 1970s. I will argue that through the use of vocational education, Christian ethics and citizenship training, and cultural “safety zones” (Ruhl), Oregon Native American boarding schools attempted to assimilate their Native American students by instilling belief in the ideals of American citizenship, Christian morality, and work ethic. I will demonstrate that over the course of the 20th century, student and community activism against these assimilationist policies took the forms of retaliation against school authorities, community legal activism on behalf of the Native American students, creative student activism through literary publications such as The Chemewa American, and finally through student legal activism in the form of the Indian Student Bill of Rights in 1972.