Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly Volume 28, Number 4, Fall 2008, pp. 328.
So many studies have been published on nineteenth-century U.S. government Indian schools that I initially wondered about the need for another. (My book has been published in the same series as that under review). Jacqueline Fear-Segal, senior lecturer in American history at the University of East Anglia, England, acknowledges her debt to this literature. Yet she validly insists on the importance of her contribution. Believing that previous studies have not "fully unpacked" issues of race, Fear-Segal contrasts the overt egalitarian rhetoric of white educators with what she sees as covert racist agendas, while probing the complex responses of Indian children and adults, many from the Great Plains region.
Briefly placing the campaign of acculturation in the context of tribal education, rising American racism, and missionary enterprises, she proceeds in her core chapters to make creative use of archival and less-exploited source materials, such as pupil artwork, school newspapers, maps, and photographs. She compares the racial pessimism of General Samuel C. Armstrong, founder of the Hampton Institute in Virginia (schooling both Indians and African Americans), with the apparent optimism of General Richard H. Pratt, founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. Fear-Segal critiques the "monstrous power game" of surveillance at Carlisle; moreover, her depiction of the spatiality of racism is a major contribution to the literature. Regardless of Pratt's rhetoric, "Indian children lived and dined separately from whites and if they died, they were buried in a segregated cemetery." The last part of White Man's Club examines the diverse effects of boarding schooling on students and later tribal generations, but also demonstrates Indian resilience and manipulation of white learning.