1882 - Assimilation policy

The stated objective of the national assimilation policy was to "kill the Indian to save the man."

       When the treaty-making era came to an end in the 1870s, the federal government decided to renew an old approach to solving its ongoing 'Indian problem.'   Much encouraged by the fervor of Methodists and Congregationalist missionaries, lawmakers in Washington allowed religious groups to co-opt federal Indian policy with a new policy of 'assimilation.'  This approach  was based on the theory that one could 'kill the Indian and save the man,' and by so doing, at long last assimilate the Indians into mainstream society.Pratt Pupilsin Frontof Pratts 'Quarters Carlisle Indian School 1885L

           Indian children, abducted from their parents homes on their reservations, were brought to the Carlisle Indian School, in Pennsylvania, in hopes of 'killing the Indian to save the man,' the phrase used to explain the policy of 'assimilation.'  Thousands of children died at these school, or ran away never to be heard from again.  The federal government has never apologized to Native American tribes, or families, for abducting and incarcerating their children against their will - a particularly odious form of racisim which is still a source of deeply held bitterness in Native American tribes.  

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         But killing the Indian, even by forcibly sending Indian children to Christian schools thousands of miles from their families, failed to accomplish its desired end of assimilation.  Nevertheless, assimilation (Click here for more)  would be the hallmark of federal Indian policy until the Nixon administration denounced it as barbaric and sponsored the Indian Self-Determination Act in 1972.