The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

why is junior so cynical about white teachers? Chapter 4

chapter 4 pleasee

Asked by
Last updated by Aslan
Answers 1
Add Yours

From the time reservations were established in the 19th century, the educational conditions were bleak. First of all, the reservation schools were historically run and taught by white Americans, including the teachers at Wellpinit Junior High whom Junior calls “our liberal, white, vegetarian do-gooders and conservative, white missionary saviors” (30). Like Mr. P. says, it was common for teachers on the reservation to have little interest in their students' educational future; they instead were trying to fulfill an ulterior political motive.

Teachers forced their Indian students at these state- and religious-run reservation schools to learn English. Students were not allowed to speak their regional or tribal languages; teachers beat students who reverted to their native tongue. Boys’ hair had to be cut short to resemble popular hairstyles amongst white men, and school officials replaced Indian children’s given names with typical “white names.” This forced assimilation is what Mr. P. refers to as “[killing] the Indian to save the child” (35). He admits that the white American faculty has been trying to to eradicate Indian culture and promote the Western ways of life.