Correspondence on the Subject of Teaching the Vernacular in Indian Schools, 1887-88

Atkins, J. D. C. (Department of the Interior, United States Indian Office)

Published by Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1888
/ Condition: Very Good
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Correspondence on the Subject of Teaching ...

Publisher: Government Printing Office, Washington, DC

Publication Date: 1888

Binding: Pamphlet

Book Condition: Very Good

Edition: First Edition.


27 pages. The federal document giving the 'true intent and meaning' of the federal ban, put in place in 1887, on the use of Indian languages in both mission and government-run schools for Native Americans. The ban was issued as part of the 1887 report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. This ban was a concerted attempt by the US government to undermine and ultimately destroy Native culture, but Commissioner Atkins' initial rule brought much controversy. This pamphlet, addressed to Indian agents, reprints some of the letters Atkins received, and his replies and explanations. He modified the ban to mollify Christian missionaries working on the reservations. He offers an an exception for 'the vernacular to be used in missionary schools, only for oral instruction in morals and religion, where it is deemed to be an auxiliary to the English language in conveying such instruction.' But Atkins also restates his reasoning: '[T]he intention is to prevent the waste of valuable time by Indian children in schools learning a barbarous tongue which is not comprehensive enough to embrace civilization or to comprehend it.' A century later, in 1990, President George Bush signed the Indian Languages Act, reversing the federal policy and giving the govenment an obligation to support the preservation and survival of Native American languages. A scarce and important (and chilling) publication. Worldcat locates about 15 copies, only one in the West, at Huntington. First edition (first printing). Minor chipping and creasing to front wrapper, else very good. Bookseller Inventory # 110424

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