Ojibwe girls learn to use sewing machines, 1895

Sewing Class at School for Indian Children


Between 1880 and 1930 the U.S. government promoted a policy toward Indians known as "assimilation," whose goal was to merge them into mainstream white society. It tried to achieve this by replacing traditional native languages and cultures with English and American culture, often by putting children into residential boarding schools where discipline was strict and abuses often went unchecked. White administrators, teachers, and observers tended to see assimilation as a charitable or philanthropic movement, but its supposed beneficiaries often experienced it differently. As a former student of the school at Red Springs in Shawano County recalled, "They tried to erase us." [Loew, Indian Nations of Wisconsin: 120]. This photo of Ojibwe girls in the school at Lac du Flambeau, wearing American-style dresses and working under the close eye of the matron at the back, suggests both the good and the bad side of the assimilation policy.


Related Topics: The Progressive Era
Americanization and the Bennett Law
Creator: Unknown
Pub Data: Unpublished photograph in the visual materials collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society Archives.
Citation: "Sewing Class at School for Indian Children." Unpublished photograph in the visual materials collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society Archives. Online facsimile at:  http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=816; Visited on: 12/20/2014
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