Richard H. Pratt founded the first federally funded Indian boarding school in Carlisle, PA. Pratt’s motto for the school was “Kill the Indian, save the man.” What do you think he meant by this statement?
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In the novel, The Surrounded, the Indian way of life is contrasted with the white way of life, a struggle which still exists today. The statement to "Kill the Indian, save the man" means that the white schools should kill anything that resembles Indian beliefs, Indian customs, Indian clothing which identifies them as Indian. The Indian in them must be removed so that they can be converted to the white way of life, with the white God, the white clothing, the white customs, the white beliefs which is the "save the man" part by now being a man with white beliefs. In this novel, the author shows how devastating the loss of their own heritage is to the native people. This loss removes their sense of identity, their own sense of where they fit into the world. As I have a native brother-in-law with two children, I can assure you that keeping their history, their sense of who they are revolves around being Indian. They as women dance the "jingle dress dance" and attend Indian ceremonies. The Surrounded shows clearly by the ending where only two escape the white pursuers that the Indians and their way of life are The Surrounded as the white people try to force them to become white.
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