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The Dawes Severalty Act passed by Congress in 1877 established an educational program to "Americanize" the Indians; that is immerse them in White American culture so that they would gradually be assimilated into mainstream American culture. One writer said the purpose was "to take the Indian out of the Indian."
Indian children were sent to boarding schools where they were taught classical literature, Latin, and even Greek. They were not allowed contact with their parents, were forced to wear western clothes, and forbidden to use their native tongue. Children who did so were punished violently: sometimes by having ones head forced into a flushing toilet other times children were beaten, deprived of food, or locked outdoors for days in a small tin structure.
The plan was not altogether successful; but its attempt was to eradicate all Indian culture over time. It did succeed in causing irreparable harm to a large number of Indian children.
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