When I say the words ‘totem pole’ what comes to mind? Do you picture big, tall poles reaching high into the sky with scary looking faces carved into them? Well that’s only half of the story behind the totem poles. The Native American culture expresses shame in various ways. The Native Americans were shamed in boarding schools, they shamed various other people with totem poles, and they feel shame with alcoholism. Boarding schools drained the minds and culture out of the Native Americans that were forced to attend them. Alcoholism is killing off the remaining Native American tribes that are still here.
In the 1870’s, Native American tribes were forced out of their land and into reservations by Captain Richard H. Pratt. Once Captain Pratt got the Native Americans onto reservations, he set up prisons to control the Native Americans that wouldn’t cooperate. He started to teach them some things and noticed that they had potential. Captain Pratt then asked if schools could be set up to teach the young Native Americans the English ways of life. The young children would be taken away and put in boarding schools where they would be taught to be ‘civilized’ people (KPorterfield 1). The article Brainwashing and Boarding Schools states:
After Carlisle opened, boarding schools became a part of official U.S. Government Indian policy. Attendance was mandatory. Most of the schools were run by church organizations, but they all followed the same mind-control model set forth by Pratt.(2)
The Native Americans did not have it easy during this time. The article later states,
Many boarding schools were established far away from reservations so that students would have no contact with their families and friends. Parents were d...
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The effect alcohol has on people is overwhelming. It can change your life in an instant. Drunk drivers kill loved ones right and left. This is the kind of life the Native Americans face every day because of alcohol and no self-control. They feel shame for what others do with alcohol and receive shame from families who lost loved ones because of alcohol.
The Native Americans haven’t had anything go right for them since they got here. They have been shamed through boarding schools, totem poles, and alcohol. It all started with Captain Pratt and, so far, has shown no sign of ending. Shame has been a constant occurrence in our world for a long time. Do you think we have the power to stop it? Our world is too opinionated and stubborn and we don’t like change. The chances of our world getting rid of shame are very low. Just be careful, you might be the next one shamed.
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