Dispossession Essay

951 words - 4 pages

Displacement and dispossession have been part of United States history since the birth of the nation. After the Native Americans were thought to have souls, they were no longer physically exterminated, but rather culturally exterminated (Smith 37). The land of the natives was taken and they were reduced to small and inadequate reservations. Native Americans were forced to attend boarding schools and were culturally dispossessed, women especially faced challenges because they faced discrimination based on their gender as well as their ethnicity, we continue to see similar dispossession in modern day society. Andrea Smith’s writing about the struggle of Native Americans in the boarding school system and Gloria Anzaldua’s mestiza consciousness demonstrate the dispossession of non-white people in the United States.
Allies of the Native Americans advocated to “kill the Indian and save the man (Smith 36).” It was far more cost effective to commit “cultural rather than physical genocide (Smith 37).” Native Americans were denied the right to their culture, children were forced to attend boarding schools that would rid them of their cultural practices and “civilize them.” Native Americans were to be civilized in theses boarding schools and taught American culture, with the supposed goal to assimilate to mainstream society but “because of racism in the U.S., Native Peoples could never really assimilate into the dominant society (Smith 37).” Native Americans were dispossessed from their own culture, one door being closed without the other door ever being opened.
Andrea Smith quotes Native American writer K. Tsianina Lomawaima saying “[an] ideological rationale more fully accounts for domesticity training: it was training in dispossession under the guise of domesticity (Smith 37).” Native children were taken from their homes and forced to attend boarding schools most of the time far removed from wherever home was for the children, being away made it more difficult for the children to run back to their families or homes. The first boarding school, the Carlisle School, was modeled after a prison in Florida (Smith 38).” Girls were taught gendered skills such as sewing, cooking, and cleaning with the pretext that those were valuable skills that were preparing them to be middle class wives (Smith 37).
Because of the racist structure of American society, these girls were not going to be middle class wives, Smith argues that the native girls were being given this type of education not to train them to enter the middle class as wives, but rather to deny them their cultural roles in their own communities as leaders (Smith 37). In Native American communities, much different from the dominant culture, women were not submissive and domestic, but rather active participants in their communities and often leaders. “Within the moral space of the schoolhouse, women were able to confound to the roles of submission and domination...

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