Thursday, August 5, 2010

Man Between Two Worlds

Working on a story about a young Nez Perce boy who was taken from his parents and birthplace in Idaho and sent in 1898 to the oldest Indian boarding-school at the time. These schools, run by the federal Bureau for Indian Affairs, were not benign. They sought to acculturate the "primitive" Indian to white society by stripping away all familiar customs, forbidding native language, and inculcating the idea that Native customs were dirty, inferior, and uncivilized.

It's a heartbreaking story.

One student at one Indian boarding school later came to Ypsilanti's Normal Training School.

He had been raised as a Nez Perce. He died not long after leaving the Normal Training School. Dusty D has written to a Pennsylvania historical society connected with this man's Indian boarding school, has ordered what appears to be the definitive doctorate thesis on the school, and has received valuable info from a scholar on the subject.

This student was the only graduate of his Indian boarding school's graduating class to go to university--though he did not satisfactorily complete the course of study at his Indian boarding school. He vanishes from Ypsi city directories by 1905, and the common English-language name he was given makes census searches difficult, to find out his eventual fate.

He died by 1918, less than 40 years old.

The story of G. M. haunts Dusty Diary.

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