The Word carrier of Santee Normal Training School, “The Red Man’s Chance to be a Man”
The Word Carrier newspaper printed stories written by Native students who attended boarding schools. As you read the article and answer the questions, consider that school leaders edited and published the paper. The article “The Red Man’s Choice to be a Man” describes what it takes to be a “good Indian.” What do you think that meant to a Native American reader? What do you think that meant to a non-Native teacher at a boarding school? What might each of these audiences think about the federal government’s promotion of boarding schools for Native students? You may notice that these students are older than in other photos in this source set. What might be the motivations of these students, who may soon return home from school and/or find employment in their fields of study?
The Word Carrier newspaper was published by the Santee Normal Training School, a boarding school founded by an Episcopal minister to train and educate children of the Santee Sioux tribe. The newspaper article
mentions that some Native Americans, after attending boarding school, chose to return to their traditional way of life, while others adhered to the roles they learned in school. This article — and the newspaper in general — can inspire a broader classroom project. Ask your students to write a diary entry of a Native American student at boarding school considering options for his or her life. In their entries, ask students to reflect on some of the reasons this young person might choose either to return to the traditional ways or to enter into a life the school had trained them for. What are some challenges, tensions, and fears he or she might face leaving for school and returning home? This kind of activity can help students make connections between the personal experiences of education and the broader role of educational institutions and the federal government in promoting and facilitating certain social structures.
The Word Carrier.
“The Red Man’s Chance to be a Man”
For Indians we want American Education! We want American Homes! We want American Rights! The result of which is American Citizenship! And the Gospel is the Power of God for their Salvation!
The Red Man’sChance to be a Man
The Plains country, the home of the North American Indian, has been my home for a full generation. I have witnessed the rise of the West. I have felt its privations and shared its struggle. I have seen it pass out of the wild and woolly period. Its homes, its schools its churches, its government, its people, are not unsurpassed. The red men have been my neighbors. I have known them in the days of Indian fighting; I have witnessed the struggle of the Indian for his place in civilization and have known him in his battles for character. I have watched his sons come from the tepee to the Government schools. The missionaries and the educators have been my friends. Indian secretaries have been in my home. I have met these young men in the conferences and heard their testimonies in meetings.
It may be true that some of these sons of the Plains who have returned from the schools have gone back to the blanket but others have returned to aid their fellows to fight their way to their feet in Christian faith. They have returned to their tribes by scores and as educated men lead in the farming as well as trade, Christian and social life, of their tribes. The greatest enemies of the Indian have been those of the white man - whiskey and wantonness. Christian leadership will do for him just what it does for the whites, and is doing it.
No Christian work which I know engages more of my sympathy than this. The 1,164 members of the 15 Indian Students’ Associations are making Christian leaders. Of these young men 50 trained students are on the gospel evangelistic teams and have conducted revivals of power in cooperation with the missionaries during their vacation trips. These men are specially trained in their school associations for this work.
The Indian is religious. The principle that Christ adopted when he chose his 12 disciples and trained them for three years in the fundamentals of life and living has characterized the Indian groups on the Plains and has sent them forth as “Good News Committees,” as they call themselves. Six new tribes have been reached in the year.
The question that is raised when the Indian is discussed, “Do the Indians make steadfast Christians?” is satisfactorily answered as we know the red men who have one by one found their place as men through the Christian faith and association training. This has been thoroughly proved to my satisfaction. The men who formed the first Indian association, the Okokakieiye, are steadfast in their work of disciplining their fellows.
And the field is not small. Besides the 137,000 Indians in Canada, the 330,000 in the United States, the 57,000 in Alaska, there are a million in Mexico, and ten millions in South America. These tribes can be most effectively reached through educated Indians enlisted and trained for Christian leadership - A.A. Hyde, in Association Men.