Cruel History: Photos of Native Americans Before and After Forced Assimilation

For Native Americans, assimilation has proved to be a significant challenge, both in the past and in today’s world.

Although North America was once rich with diverse Native American nations, by the time the Civil War ended, the majority of them had been forced west of the Mississippi River. Despite wanting to preserve their cultural identities, they were also forced to assimilate, meaning they had to leave behind their tribes and ways of life to adopt westernized ideals.

When Europeans began arriving on east coast, they believed that their people were superior to the Native Americans. So, they started to demand that they assimilate and surrender their identities and their land. Soon enough, assimilation became U.S. government policy, impacting the lives of countless tribes.

Despite adhering to these rules, including allowing the government to decide who was an Indian and who was not, Native Americans were never fully accepted in their new society.

The photos featured above are just a few examples of what they were forced to endure.

According to Wikipedia:

Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was the flagship Indian boarding school in the United States from 1879 through 1918. Founded in 1879 by Captain Richard Henry Pratt under authority of the US federal government, Carlisle was the first federally funded off-reservation Indian boarding school. It was founded on the principle that Native Americans were the equals of European-Americans, and that Native American children immersed in mainstream Euro-American culture would learn skills to advance in society. In this period, many Anglo-Americans believed mistakenly that Native Americans were a vanishing race whose only hope for survival was rapid cultural transformation.