Exposition and Education
- Publication: Omaha Daily Bee
- Date: 18 July 1898
- Author(s): Ella B. Perrine
- Publication Place: Omaha, NE
- Pages: 5
- TEI XML: transmiss.news.odb.18980718a.xml
EXPOSITION AND EDUCATION
The exhibit made by the Indian schools under governmental control, is located a little to the left of the main entrance to the Government building. It is not only interesting in itself, but in view of the approaching Indian congress and the fact that it was installed by Miss Alice I. Fletcher, who has spent so many years among the Omahas and Winnebagoes, and has so recently charmed us with her delightful paper on "The Psychic Aspect of Indian Music," read before the Musical congress, much additional interest attaches to it.
By the way, the day devoted by the congress to Indian music must have given those in attendance many new ideas as regards the Indians, so often one hears it said, "The only thing to do with an Indian is to shoot him," or "To educate an Indian is to kill him." After seeing the modest, dignified bearing of Mr. Francis La Flesche, the Omaha, educated at Harvard, listening to his scholarly paper and realizing that his study and association with white people had not lessened his affection for his kindred, one must surely have felt it unwise to judge these people too hastily.
Then, too, when persons of the ability of Prof. Fillmore and Miss Fletcher give the best years of their lives to working with the Indians and consider the time not ill-spent, one must feel there is some good in them. In this connection, I quote a few sentences from the last report of the commissioner of Indian affairs: "In the development of its educational plan the Indian office seeks permanent rather than quick results in the uplifting of the Indians to a higher social and industrial plane, and the facilities for education have been enlarged and improved as a wider experience has dictated. From barbarism to American citizenship is an immense step, which can be accomplished only by painstaking efforts, operating not only upon the children, but upon the older Indians as well." Students of political science point with the greatest pride to our written constitution as America's unique contribution to this science. No less significant to the student of ethnology is the evolution of the Indian from barbarism to civilization, which after a careful survey of the government exhibit, one is convinced is now being assisted rather than forced. The schools represented are chiefly in the transmississippi region and include five nonreservation boarding schools, located respectively at Genoa, Neb., Carlisle, Pa., Lawrence, Kan., Carson, Nev., and Phoenix, Ariz.; eight reservation boarding schools at the Omaha and Winnebago agencies, Hoops Valley, Cal., Crow Creek, S. D., Oneida, Wis., and Cheyenne, Seger and Riverside, Oki.; the reservation day schools include the two at Pine Ridge and Rosebud, S. D., and the Mission schools of California.
The statistical charts give some data as well as views of several other schools. The following general items for 1897 were noticed on one of the framed cards: The Indian population of the United States, exclusive of Alaska, numbers 248,800; exclusive of the five civilized tribes in the Indian Territory, the Indians in New York and Alaska, the number of Indian youth of school age is nearly 36,000; of these 22,964 are in attendance at 228 schools, 234 of these schools are wholly supported by the government, divided as follows: Ninety-six boarding schools (twenty-three off and seventy-three on reservations) and 138 day schools. The schools are located on 109 Indian reservations and in twenty-four states ' and territories; $3,000,000 is annually expended on them, being three-sevenths of the appropriation.
From this it will be noticed the large number of boarding schools off reservations, which it is quite natural to infer accomplish the best results. Doubtless the reason for this lies in the fact that industrial training carried on in all the schools to a greater or less extent can here be thoroughly systematized. Boys are taught trades and agricultural pursuits, and the girls are trained to be cooks, housekeepers and seamstresses. The grades run from the kindergarten to grammar, besides which normal and commercial instruction is given.
The exhibit covers as many of these features as can be presented in show case form, and also shows something of aboriginal work by way of contrast.
In the latter are seen specimens of pottery, reed matting and blankets colored with native dyes—several of the blankets and an elaborately embroidered bead belt 1 coming from the Navajos, a bride sash, colored plaques, rattles and a boomerang from the Moquis of Arizona, basket work from the Tule River mission in California, and water tight alias or water jars holding several gallons made from willow twigs or reeds. By dropping red hot stones in them water is heated.
From the ceiling is suspended the large birch canoe shown at the World's fair, and successive expositions. In a glass case is seen the figure of a Sioux brave with shield and spear, in a war suit made of buckskin with moccasins of porcupine quills and a head dress of feathers reaching quite to his feet.
In a second case is a Sioux woman in a bird skin costume fringed and beaded, carrying a child in a case completely covered with bead embroidering. In considering the work of boarding schools, both reservation and nonreservation, the one at Genoa, Nance county, this state, may be taken as a type. This school was opened in 1884 in the vacated Pawnee building, and has a half section of land, once a part of the Pawnee reservation. Its capacity is 350 pupils. They the chiefly Chippewas, though there are a few Omahas, Winnebagoes, Pawnees and Sioux.
There is a good showing of written work in all the common branches, besides drawing, exercises in music and kindergarten work. As a whole the work is characterized by extreme neatness and by exactness of form in writing and measurement in drawing. Occasionally one sees an imaginative drawing, every part of which is full of meaning. One pictures a company of United States soldiers dispersing a band of warriors.
The girls' industrial department shows not only some plain sewing but some of the daintiest work imaginable in handkerchiefs, lace and embroidery. A great deal of shop work from the boys is seen—knives, hammers, wrenches and other tools made in the blacksmith shop; shoes, clothing, harness and woodword from youthful sloyd workers as well as carpenters who seem masters of the trade; all of which is sufficiently well made to find ready sale should the quantity be in excess of what is required for the use of the school.
The oak lounge which, in spite of its being upholstered in heavy Navajo blankets, tempts one to rest a moment, was made by three boys under 19 years of age—two Chippewas and one Sioux.
In the wing cases are many views of the school grounds and buildings, interior and exterior, and numerous photographs of pupils taken singly and by classes.
A few special features from other schools deserve mention. Some beautiful Grecian designs of pillow lace, first taught by Miss Sybil Carter in the White Earth reservation, Minnesota, in 1891, are in one of the cases. A card attached states that several thousand dollars' worth have already been sold.
A relief map of the Crow Creek buildings and farm is the work of the younger pupils. The school at Hoops. Valley, Cal., has sent several sacks of small grain. Haskell Institute, Lawrence, Kan., sent a farm wagon complete, but owing to the limited space in the Government building it has beenplaced in the Transportation building.
There is a small model of the school band stand at Phoenix, Ariz., the work of three small boys, and near it a rosewood cabinet from the same school.
A part of the girls' work from the Carlisle school was given a special medal at the World's fair. One of the charts gives the record since leaving school as regards character and business ability of nine classes graduated from Carlisle.
The record includes 153 boys, of which 142 are still living, and fifty girls. But sixteen of the entire number are graded "poor" and only one "bad," the majority being marked either "good" or "excellent." A similar record from Hampton, Va., makes an equally good showing. Three paintings in oil, of no little merit. are the work of Angel De Cora, a full blooded Winnebago girl, now studying under Howard Pyle in Philadelphia. The subjects are an Indian lodge, an Indian girl in costume and an Indian warrior. Files of the papers published at the various schools are noticed—the Indian News from Genoa, the Indian Helper from Carlisle and the Indian Leader from Lawrence. Here is an exact copy of a letter written by a pupil mho had of completely mastered the English language, though the writing is very neat: "My dear teacher: Mr. George L. Williams, My good teacher this day me no come to school teacher yesterday is me go down John house and my feet all wet, this tomorrow is me very sick on my belly. teacher will this day is me no come to school will all right. Your loving Friend Master Berges T B Head."
The government educational exhibit is in charge of Mr. J. C. Boykin of the Bureau of Education, and Mr. Charles Tyler of the Indian office, both of whom gladly answer questions regarding the exhibit.
ELLA B. PERRINE.