Though there were a few schools located in Native American communities or “Indian country” and American white teachers were sent out to educate Native American people, many, many children were sent away to federal and Christian mission boarding schools far from their homelands. The policy was to break or sever ties to culture, family, and tribe, to change indigenous people into “Americans.” It was a severe and traumatic form of brainwashing, literally to destroy the heritage and identity of native people…
That year I learned the world outside was very big while Deetseyamah and our Acoma community were very small… White people were very different from us; sometimes they did strange and perplexing things, but generally if you watched and listened and considered them very carefully, you could understand them. As a people, I distrusted them less, although I was still wary of something that drove them willfully, aggressively, powerfully, and arrogantly.
In that first time of living outside of Acoma, I didn’t know it was the same drive that had settled its domain and rule over Native American lands and enforced an educational policy disguised as civilization.
—Simon J. Ortiz
from the introduction to his book Woven Stone