By Jon Reyhner, Jeanne Eder
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Extra resources for American Indian Education: A History
About a hundred paces from the buildings called the mission, lies one of the villages or barracks for Indians, which consist of eight long rows of houses, where each family lives entirely apart from the rest. (Quoted in Jackson and Castillo 1995, 81) The friars punished lesser infractions of their rules, such as missing Mass, with whipping and more serious infractions with imprisonment or the stocks. They used soldiers to quell any Indian opposition. ” According to the friars, hell was the destination of all Indians who did not give up their former way of life, even their harmless or good customs—taking all the fun out of life.
The Franciscans tended to become “tied into a routine of acting as labor and estate managers responsible for the administration of the mission” (Jackson and Castillo 1995, 35). In 1795 the Spanish monarchy decreed that Native languages be suppressed, overturning the Law of the Indies. However, even before that time most Catholic missionaries did not learn the Native languages of California. They held Indian cultures in contempt and provided little academic instruction of any kind. ” Forbes ( 1972) estimated that in 1802 there were 15,562 Indians on eighteen missions, compared to only 4,342 soldiers and settlers (who were discouraged from entering the missions).
Toward the end of his life he wrote: I have turned out forty Indians who were good readers, writers, and instructed in the principles of the Christian religion. . Well behaved while with me[,] . . by contact with the vices of their tribes, not more than half preserved their characters unstained. The rest were sunk into as low, savage, and brutish a way of living as they were before and many of the most promise have fallen lowest. (Quoted in Layman 1942, 92) Wheelock’s failure to note that his students’ fall from grace was probably a result of their contact with frontier whites rather than with their own people is symptomatic of missionaries’ general inability to see traditional tribal practices as anything but evil.
American Indian Education: A History by Jon Reyhner, Jeanne Eder