The Long History of Child-Snatching

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Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt, Founder and Superintendent of Carlisle Indian School, in Military Uniform and With Sword 1879.

African-Americans were not alone in suffering separations. Starting in 1879, tens of thousands of Native Americans were required to leave their families and attend boarding schools. Richard Pratt, an Army officer who founded the first one, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, in Pennsylvania, summarized his philosophy this way: “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead.” He declared, “Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.” This was considered sound treatment of “savages” after annihilation had failed to fully eliminate them.

Assimilation was the main goal of the schools: The children’s names were changed, their language, religions and other cultural traditions suppressed.

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