Location: Bowdoin / Calendar

Veronica Pasfield, "Kill the Indian to Save the Man": the "Indian Problem" and Native American Boarding Schools

  • 11/14/2012 | 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
  • Location: Hubbard Hall, The Pickering Room (213)
  • Event Type: Lecture

The end of the Civil War meant an increase in American settler-colonial invasion into tribal homelands in the West. A decade of armed violence and massacre erupted as the Army and frontier militias attempted to exterminate or inter tribal communities permanently--and to extract tribal natural resources badly needed for U.S. expansion West.

In 1879, a new kind of solution to the "Indian problem" emerged in the form of Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School. In the words of founder Lt. Richard Henry Pratt, a federal Indian school system would "kill the Indian, and save the man." Federal agencies and missionary groups joined in an aggressive program to force Indian children to abandon their cultures, languages, and religions and assimilate to Euro-American lifeways.

This talk examines the underpinning ideologies behind the federal Indian boarding school system, which flourished from 1879-1934. Also considered are the creative and heroic strategies employed by Indian children to maintain their cultures, family ties, and sense of self-worth.

Veronica Pasfield is Ojibwe and a citizen of Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. A PhD candidate in the Program in American Culture at the University of Michigan, Pasfield is particularly interested in the ways indigeneity challenges and shapes U.S. nationalism and contemporary tribal activisms, particularly in the realms of resistance, museums, and education. Pasfield's dissertation focuses on trans-Pacific circuits of power and dispossession that link Hawaiian, American Indian, and Freedman's industrical boarding school systems. She is also a repatriation activist, and a NAGPRA Officer for her tribe. Before returning to academia, Pasfield was a magazine writer and editor in Detroit and San Francisco.