Indian and White
In the History of the Northwest
By Holice and Pam
Extra special thanks to Holice B. Young for transcribing this book. The excellent work she does continues to help many researchers! Thanks also, to Pam Rietsch, for sharing her books with genealogists!
Non-Sectarianism in Indian Education and Indian Contract Schools.
In a recent issue of a leading Montana paper, a writer under the pseudonym "Constitution" has come forth to champion the non-sectarian system of Indian education inaugurated by the Harrison administration. As a rule, the only attention anonymous writers deserve is to be left unnoticed. But as the article in question bears the ear-marks of inspiration from higher quarters than a newspaper office, and is, perhaps, a fair exposition of the grounds on which the system is advocated by its authors, we call our readers' attention to it, that they may consider and judge for themselves of the real merits of the case.
EDUCATION FOR INDIANS
Important ideas and historical facts bearing on question.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE JOURNAL
Sir:--In the Daily Independent of December 14th appeared an article signed by Rev. Palladino, S. J., which, as voicing the persistent attitude of the sect to which he belongs, occasions no surprise; but as it is one move only in an open warfare upon the faithful Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and, through him a menace to the Administration, which has thus far withstood their demand for his removal (it would be the same with a Democratic administration), this article has much political significance; and it is well for the people to consider the real merits of the case.
It does not follow that because Senator Vest ostentatiously subscribes himself as an enemy of Jesuitism, all he says must be taken as unbiased. He is quoted in one part of Rev. Palladino's article as saying, "It is impossible to educate an Indian if you let him go back to his family each day," and again, with absurd inconsistency, "I would not take them off to the States where they could acquire ideas which are alien to Indian life."
These sentences have a dogmatic ring, and in fact, the entire attitude of the Senator may well be considered a bit of special pleading. Over against it are the testimonies of many reliable witnesses, whose
knowledge is not confined to one junketing tour or season, including no inconsiderable part of the Indians themselves.
Few people, of whatever belief, are disposed to belittle the heroism and devotion of those Fathers, like De Smet and his contemporaries, who sacrificed their lives in the wilderness at the behest of their religion and to benefit mankind; but what monument is left of their work other than their fame--and valuable church property? Where are the Indians they have lifted from barbarism? (It is to be observed that there is no parallel between their surroundings and work and those of their successors of to-day.)
To those who question religious authority it may well appear that the Rev. Palladino is of the opinion that if they "go to mass regularly," it is not desirable that the Indians "should acquire ideas which are alien to Indian life," but we submit that the Government appropriates large sums of money for Indian education for the express purpose of having them acquire such ideas, to the end that "Indian life," as distinguished from the life of the other people of these United States, should disappear entirely , and as speedily as may be.
That the Jesuits disapprove of the non-sectarian Indian schools, and attack with scorn the plans of Commissioner Morgan, need cause no surprise; they have done the same with the whole free school system, calling them "Godless," "irreligious," etc., and yet it is well known to all people that the religious standard (I speak not of profession, but o f practical religion, manifest in action) is as high among their teachers as in the parochial schools, and that the attendance of the free schools bear honorable comparisons with those of the others, not only in walk and conversation, but in the averages which the criminal statistics o the country show.
Let it not be forgotten that among the sectarian contract schools the co-religionists of Rev. Palladino have had, heretofore, near or quite three-fourths of the appropriations and less than half of the Indians also; that the issue is not whether teachers who happen to be Catholics shall be employed, but whether the commissioner shall run his department and oversee the expenditure of the appropriations with the responsibly for which he is charged, or turn it over to a self-appointed religious bureau in Washington to dispose of at their own sweet will.
The Commission is right. Let the Indian learn "ideas alien to Indian life," that they may learn to be in touch with, and no menace to, the civilized American life which is fast closing in about them. If they chose also to learn any religion, let them choose it, and let not those who would do sacrifice to teach it, stultify their charity by making it depend upon Government bounty.
As a fair commentary on Senator Vest's rhapsodies, let those interested in the subject read the history of the rise and fall, within this century, of the "Missions of California" with their thousands of "Christianized Indians," and how gladly they went back to their mountains and wild life when the Government in Mexico compelled the disbanding of the standing army which had led them in peonage and "Christianity."
Then look for any civilized tribes under control of, or in the wake of, teaching which makes obedient (?) children rather than self-contained citizens, and you cannot find them in America. The following extracts are from a dispassionate sketch, and exhibit the mission system and its achievements with Indians when given the most favorable opportunities:
"The mission was from one standpoint missionary and ecclesiastical; from another it was industrial and political; Christianized natives meant laborers and vassals. The California Indians, of whom in 1721 Collier wrote, 'Every family hath an entire Legislature and Governors at discretion,' were brought into a subjection only paralleled in Paraguay.
"In July, 1769, Father Serra, a man of singular zeal, piety, asceticism and administrative ability, founded San Diego and began the mission system in Alta California. His success completed its ecclesiastical conquest and brought the coast tribes into full subjection.
"The missions in their prime were little more than Indian reservations, managed, it is true, with great zeal, and marked industrial success, but entirely incapable of making citizens of their Indian occupants. From the days of good Las Casas, Spain and Mexico have honestly tried to do their best by the Indians. The laws of Mexico gave them many rights which in practice they were utterly unable to obtain. Later Spanish laws created additional safeguards as in Mexico, the actual rights possessed by the Indians were less than their legal rights even during the sixty years of the missions' undisputed control.
If the condition of vassalage in which mission Indians were kept be considered entirely justifiable, their treatment was on the whole satisfactory. Few whites besides priests and soldiers were allowed to live at the missions. The Indians were fed and clothed, taught trades, simple mechanical arts and the system of agriculture practiced in Spain, passing their uneventful lives as humble servants of the
Church, which was virtually independent of Mexico, owner of the soil, and master of the country.
"One might fill a volume with incidents of life in these quaint and curious missions before their hour of doom came. The people rose at sunrise, spent an hour at chapel, marched singing to the fields, returned when the evening Angelus rang, spent the evening in games and amusements and retired to their huts. They planted gardens, vineries and orange groves--gardens in which the choicest fruits of Granada and Andalusa were grown. They tended the fast-multiplying herds of the missions, the broad valleys and fertile foothills. . . . . De Courcey says that the Franciscan Fathers had 75,000 California Indians civilized and converted before 1813. . . .
"When the missions were first established a tract of about fifteen acres was allotted to each one, but their lands were never surveyed, and they gradually extended their bounds until they laid claim to nearly the entire region. The term "mission" that once meant only the church town with the gardens and orchards near it, soon came to include the extensive tracts over which the cattle, horses and sheep owned by the establishment roamed at will. The priests never received any formal acknowledgment from the Spanish Government of their land claims. The revolution of 1812 put the subject into the hands of the Mexican liberals, who, four years later, freed the Indians serfs from compulsory allegiance to the priesthood.
"The famous missions, with all their faults of theory and practice, had been planted by men possessed of the true missionary spirit; they had cone much to civilize the natives and more to improve the country. They had often dispensed a genial and generous hospitality to strangers, and they ruled their servants with a firm and liberal hand. When the whole social fabric of the mission system went to ruin, the suddenness of its downfall shocked all thoughtful observers. Yet it was but an artificial system, and its intrinsic worthlessness was plainly revealed the moment the outside pressure and military coercion were removed. Moral suasion was futile to restrain the thousands of Indian converts, who would no longer be persuaded to make soap, mould bricks, weave wool, sing Latin hymns and mediaeval prayers. They returned to their hillsides, their grasshoppers, their camas roots, and their idleness, while many of the priests went back to Mexico. The missions' lack of economic success was by far the least part of its failure.
As for the Flat Head Indians, it is sufficient to say, after the fifty years' teaching, they have in the past five years committed more
cowardly murders than an equal number of reservation Indians anywhere, and except for a few level-headed men among them, the whole tribe would have shielded and protected the murderers.
Reduced to a logical proposition, the claims of Rev. Palladino are simply and only:
The Government must civilize the Indians.
The only way to civilize the Indians is to teach them Christianity.
The Jesuits can teach Christianity better and cheaper then any other people.
Therefore the Government must employ the Jesuits to teach the Indians Christianity.
But everybody knows that Buddhists, Universalists and Baptist all could and would make the same claims, and a sufficient answer to all this is:
The appropriation of public money for the purpose of teaching any religion is strictly and carefully prohibited by the Constitution of the Untied States and the laws of Montana as well, and attempts to override these will lead to continual dissensions--unless dissensions--for whether religion is good or otherwise, the State can have nothing to do with it; and the end must be obedience to the
Helena, December 20, 1891.
We shall address our opponent by the pseudonym under which he bravely and patriotically hides himself, only adding, at the behest of civility and politeness, the prefix "Mr." to "Constitution," and we shall limit our reply to the salient points of his article.
We dismiss as rather "unconstitutional" the charge that the plain and impartial expression of our views on this important subject is of any, still less "Much political significance." We are too little and too utterly insignificant to give anything we may say, do or write, any political significance; and are, besides, tolerably well known for the last twenty-five years to the people of Montana, for them to even dream of the contrary. Candidly, we never knew that there was any politics in us, until Mr. constitution was kind enough to tell us. But, perhaps, the political
significance of this discussion will be found to be on the side of Mr. Constitution himself; it is certainly not on our side.
FATHER DE SMET AND HIS CO-LABORERS.
Mr. constitution seems not to feel disposed to "belittle the heroism and devotion of those Fathers, like De Smet and his contemporaries, who sacrificed their lives in the wilderness at the behest of their religion and to benefit mankind. But," asks he, "what monument is left of their work other than their fame and valuable church property? Where are the Indians they have lifted from barbarism?" How a Father De Smet and others like him can be said to have benefited mankind, and yet left nothing of their work other then their fame; or how they could have obtained fame without accomplishing any work worthy of fame, is more than we can understand. "What monument is left of their work?" Is it disingenuousness or ignorance that prompts the question? We may point to one such monument In the endless history of Indian Wars that have cost the United States Treasure millions of dollars and the nation thousand of lives can Mr. constitution tell us of a single one that was brought about by Catholic Indians? This monument of peace erected by Christianity and its ministers, by Father De Smet and his confréres, is equivalent to many, and in the minds of thinking people, it alone should suffice to show that non-sectarianism is a very poor substitute for Catholic Christianity in the work of Indian education.
MISSIONS IN CALIFORNIA, ETC.--MORAL
Mr. constitution's disparaging reference to the mission system of Indian civilization, as exemplified in the rise and fall of the Catholic Indian missions in Paraguay, Mexico, and particularly in California, is a most unfortunate one for his cause. No one who is at all familiar with the history of those missions can hesitate to admit that the interference of the Government alone crushed and destroyed them. It was the non-sectarianism of the Mexican Government that brought about this work of ruin and desolation in California. The Catholic missionaries were driven away, the administration was secularized, and the poor, unfortunate Indians, who were Christians, industrious and happy under
the mission system, were driven back by the anti-religious policy of the Mexican Government to a condition of poverty, wretchedness and barbarism even worse then that from which they had been rescued by Christianity.
"Catholic missionaries brought the tribes of Mexico and California under the most perfect control, and kept them so," says Bartlett, an authority above suspicion. "And how was this done? Not by the sword, not by treaty, nor by presents, nor by unscrupulous Indian agents, prepared to sacrifice the poor creatures without remorse for this own sinister ends. The Indian was taught Christianity with many of the arts of civilized life, and how to sustain himself by his labor. By this means the Society of Jesus accomplished more toward ameliorating the condition of the Indians than the United States had done since the settlement of the country."
"But moral suasion," says Mr. constitution, "was futile to retain the thousands of Indian converts who would no longer be persuaded to make soap, mould bricks, weave wool, sing Latin hymns and repeat mediaeval prayers," But, dear Mr. Constitution, how would you have those poor, unfortunate Indians continue to be persuaded, when the one efficient cause of persuasion was no longer among them--when the ministers of Christianity, who had persuaded them from barbarism into an industrious Christian life, and who along could persuade them to remain in it, were driven away? How innocent is Mr. Constitution's statement that "many of the priests went back to Mexico." You need not tell us, after this, that the Indians returned to their hillsides, to their grasshoppers, etc. It could not be otherwise; and it would be well for the authors and advocates of non-sectarianism in Indian education to bear in mind, that like causes must needs produce like effects.
"If those missions have come to naught," "if we much seek in vain for the results of their toil and sacrifices," the failure is not to be ascribed to the men who created them, now to their system, any more than we can ascribe want of skill to an Apelles
or a Zeusis, because their masterpieces of art have been destroyed.
Scarcely a score of years ago a maddened commune in Paris pulled down, burned and destroyed some of the finest instruments ever erected by the genius of man, real treasures of everything noble, beautiful and grand. But because today the wayfarer's foot tread on the vacant lots where the noble piles were reared and stood and were inspected and admired by every day of the year by thousands of visitors from every corner of the earth, will Mr. Constitution argue that those magnificent monuments of architecture and art have never existed, or that they were not what they were, simply because they are no more, having been made to disappear in smoke by the incendiary torch of the anti-religious and non-sectarian rabble of Paris?
"Those missions," says an eminent historian, "were among the noblest works of men; in the degree that we admire the zealous men who filled Florida, Texas and California with Christian villages must we stamp with every brand of ignominy and disgrace the men and the policy which destroyed them and drove their inmates back into barbarism."
INDIAN NATURE AND THE UNITED STATES TREASURY.
But "the United States Government," we are told, "appropriates large sums of money for Indian education for the express purpose and to the end that 'Indian Life', as distinguished from the life of the other people of the United states, should disappear entirely and as speedily as may be." We simply reply that all the millions in the United States Treasury are insufficient to bring this about, and that so long as there is an Indian alive, he will live more or less according to his Indian nature. Scarcely a week ago, chief Charlot, now on the Jocko, insisted with the authorities on the reservation that none of the boys of his band should attend school if their hair is to be shorn. You may talk "High School" to these people to your heart's content; you may talk patriotism; you may seek as much as you please to "initiate them into the laws of the great natural forces," etc., but they are Indians, they have the Indian nature, and even an old-timer
pagan tells you that: Natruam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret. And certainly the white men's conduct in general, and that of some Government officials in particular, in their dealings with the Indians, has never been such as to make the red men fall in love with our ways and manners.
CATHOLICS AND CONTRACT SCHOOLS.
To the charge that the Catholics have had nearly three-fourths of the contract schools appropriations, we answer in the words of Senator Teller: "There has been," says the Senator, "a good deal of complaint in the country that the Catholic Church had monopolized a large portion of the educational facilities for the Indians. I have no affinity with the Catholic Church; all my connections, all my teachings and associations have been the other way. I have observed, though, that the Catholics have been the most successful educators of the Indians of any people in the country."
In the testimony, then, of Senator Teller, the Catholics have had more contract schools because they have been more successful in educating the Indians. But not only have Catholics been more successful, they have been so at less cost to the Government. "They have sent men to the Indians," says Senator Jones, of Arkansas, "who were willing to devote their lives and go among these wild people for the purpose of doing good; and I respectfully submit that they will more earnestly and devotedly put in their days and their nights in this work than any class of mere hirelings who go there for the salary. A large majority of these people go practically without salaries. This thing ought not to be overlooked, and it ought not to be neglected; and when we are making provision for these schools if we intend this civilizing shall be effective and shall accomplish something substantial, I think these cheap schools, the contract schools that have done so much to build up not only the intelligence of the Indians, but their morals, ought to be cordially and heartily sustained by the Government, and out not to be criticized, and we ought not to allow any mere feelings of partisan bias and sectarian prejudice to influence us to legislate against one denomination simply because if has shown a disposition to go further and spend more money and more labor, and exercise more thought and diligence
in the development of this great work than any other denomination has done." Thus Senator Jones, of Arkansas.
"And again," says the same Senator, "the point I was endeavoring to get the Senators; attention to was this--that this, it seems to me, cannot in any sense be called a Government aid to these schools. If the Government spent money as economically and as judiciously as it is expended in these contract schools (for these contract schools educate the Indians for less money then the Government can do it) so far from being a benefit conferred by the Government upon the schools, it is a benefit conferred by the schools upon the Government by that much money saved. The reports which I have called attention to here this morning, covering ten pages, will show that the average expense of the Government schools is about twice as much as the cot of the Government to the same work done by these people under contract."
Mr. constitution, of course, condemns all contract schools. But, suppose that such were not the case, would he approve of Indian schools being assigned to this or that denomination regardless of their success? Would he give "the largest school facilities for the Indians" to the less successful Indian educators? We re satisfied that he would never conduct his own private business or his family affair on such principles. Why should he, then, approve of the Government doing so? "These Catholic people," says Senator Call, " in the matter of Indian education have, perhaps, taken the lead in respect to numbers. But whatever they have done they have come honestly by, and they have done a work which neither the Government nor any other people would have done. Now, it is to be said," continues the Senator, "that because the Catholics have educated more of the Indians, have established more stations for education, therefore, they shall be deprived of the work because they have an undue share of what?--of the performance of a duty of the Government, which the Government asked them to perform, and which the morality and Christianity of the day demand should be performed by somebody."
CONTRACT SCHOOLS AND THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT.
But particular stress is laid by the anonymous writer on the fact that "the appropriation of public money for the purpose of teaching any religion is strictly and carefully prohibited by the Constitution of the United States and by the laws of Montana as well." We know it, and heartily approve of it; but we must emphatically deny that to put breeches on sans culottes, to shelter them, to feed them; to teach people to be farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters, to instruct and enable them, to make a living by honest toil, is to teach religion. Who in genealogists, except he be out of his wits, can or will say that to teach these things is to teach religion? And if to teach these mattes is not to teach religion, how, in the name of plain, common sense, can it be asserted that the Government cannot contract to have them taught; or if it contracts to have them taught, that it appropriates, against the Constitution, public money to teach religion? Why, then, may not the Government employ me, like any one else, to teach them, if I do the teaching equally as well? And if my religion be a help to me to fill the task better and more successfully, what folly is it not to bid me lay aside that which helps me render better and more efficient service? Has, then non-sectarian or the hatred of religion and Christianity in this enlightened age of humanitarianism, philosophy, philanthropy, progress, civilization and freedom of conscience, come to this--that because I happen to be a Christian, a Catholic, a priest or a Religious, and, in spite of the better and more efficient service that because of m y religious belief and practice I am able to render, I should be disqualified as an employee of the Government? What could be narrower, more bigoted, more unjust.
"I have no patience with this sectarian talk," said Senator Davis on the floor of the United States Senate, July 25, 1890. "This government is not making itself a party to any denomination in this business. This is a business, and a business of a serious character. The government, taking advantage in the wilderness of the facilities which these pioneers of Christianity have created for it, proposes merely to allow the Indian children to enjoy the hospitality and nurture of these men and women."
"I insist," said Senator Call on the same occasion," that there is no kind of foundation for the proposition that because the Government contracts with a Religious Order, to educate children, to teach them arithmetic, their letters, writing, and to give them, if necessary an education in the different trades and pursuits, that because the Government contracts with a religious organizations, therefore, they a re maintaining an established religion."
But, then, ask we, was it not the government itself that under the Peace Policy of President Grant proclaimed the necessity of religion in the cause of Indian education and sought its help, by calling upon the different churches to assist the Government in the work? "This proclamation," says Senator Call, " has been made by the Government in the very legislation of the country and in the policy which has been pursued for years by the Interior Department, with the approval of each Congress that has met." Now, contract schools are, or are not against the United States Constitution. If you say they are, you must admit that the legislation and policy of the country has been in opposition to the Federal Constitution for years. If you say they are not, then your plea for non-sectarianism in Indian education is a fraud, since it rests on a falsehood.
And further, were there in these contract schools and like institutions anything contrary to the letter or spirit of the United States Constitution, would the Know-nothings of the day be so busy, as they seem just now to be, to have Congress pass an amendment to the Federal Constitution for no other purpose than to make these schools and similar institutions "unconstitutional?" But why not advocate as well an amendment to abolish the constitution itself? If more radical and more un-American, these anti-Catholic organizations are at least less inconsistent.
THE FLAT HEADS.
Mr. constitution charges the Flat Heads with having "committed in the last five years more cowardly murders than an equal number of reservation Indians anywhere." We brand the assertion as an atrocious slander on that much maligned tribe of peaceful Indians, and challenge Mr. Constitution to substantiate the charge that any Flat Head was implicated in or connected
with the murders referred to. It has been the proud, and we believe also truthful boast, of these Indian that none of their tribe has ever slipped the blood of a white man. Were the murderers Flat Heads because the crimes were committed within the limits of the reservation of that name? Are there not on that reservation Kootenays, Kalispels, Pend d'Oreilles, Spokanes, and Nez Percés?
This charge, however, has been anticipated above, where we mentioned these very crimes, the names of their authors and some of the extenuating circumstances under which the crimes were perpetrated. We simply add here to our own statement about those Indian criminals, that all four were non-Christians, having spurned all the influences of religion until the gallows and the hangman were insight.
Mr. constitution concludes by saying: "The claims of Rev. Palladino are simply and only, 'The Government must civilize the Indians.'"
We never committed ourselves to such an assertion. On the contrary, we say that the Government must not civilize them, for the simple reason that the Government cannot do it. What we asserted, or what naturally follows from our argument is this" If these wards of the nations are to be civilized, the necessary means to that end must be adopted; but Christianity is necessary; therefore, the Government must not seek to exclude it. To seek the end and exclude at the same time the means necessary to the end, is not the work of reason, but of madness. And since Christianity's necessary means to civilize the Indians cannot be had outside of Christianity itself, the Government must either enlist in the cause the services of Christianity, or be doomed to utter failure in its attempt to civilize the Indian. "the alternative is here,' declared Senator Call in the United State Senate, July 25, 1890, " you must either employ these churches, or you cannot educate these Indians."
"The only way to civilize the Indians," continues Mr. Constitution, "is to teach them Christianity." That is, to civilize them morally and intellectually, yes; to civilize them also materially, the means and instruments of material civilization are also required. This is evident, as the means must be proportionate to the end. What we maintain is, that you cannot civilize the
Indian independently, of Christianity. Show us that you can; point to cone solitary instance to the contrary, and we give in.
"But the Jesuits," says Mr. Constitution, "can teach Christianity better and cheaper than any other people." Not exactly, sir. The Jesuits have never pretended to teach Christianity better than any other duly authorized preachers of Christianity. As to the cheaper part, we almost feel inclined to say, yes, for the simple reason that the Jesuit binds himself by most sacred vows to receive no salary, no compensation, or remuneration of any kind whatever for ht exercise of the Christian ministry. But the question here is not exactly of Jesuits, it is of the Catholic Church; and, therefore, for the sake of argument, suppose, Mr. constitution, that the Catholic church were the only one that could really civilize these Indians; or that it could so it as well as anybody else and at less cost and expense to the Government, what would economy, sound policy, true statesmanship and plain common sense suggest? To throw the people's money away, and pay more for what you can secure at less cost? What becomes, then, of the principle that underlies all American legislation with regard to the expenditure of public funds?
"But the Government of the United States, now on of the richest on the face of the earth, with an overflowing treasure," say Commissioner Morgan in his official Report of 1890," has at its command unlimited means and can undertake and complete this work (the non-sectarian civilization and education of the Indian according to the gentleman's plan) without feeling it in any degree a burden" . . . . "The commissioner,' comments Senator Jones, of Arkansas, "seems to have been impressed with the thought that the Government has an overflowing treasury which his absolutely inexhaustible, and that one of his duties was to get as much money out of it as possible."
If the aim, then, of the non-sectarian system of Indian education devised by Commissioner Morgan and so warmly advocated by Mr. constitution, is simply to spend money, we have nothing more to say. But we submit that the millions could be spent less unprofitably and less inconsistently in chasing a wild goose, than in futile attempts to civilize the Indians independently of Christianity.
But enough of this. Let us return to our narrative and see exemplified the system of educating the red men which we advocate. Its acknowledged success will be the best commendation of its merits. We resume, then, the local history of St. Ignatius and pass on to speak of its schools, the first Industrial boarding Schools for Indians established in the Northwest.
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