Assimilation's Agent

Edwin L. Chalcraft, Cary C. Collins (Editor, Introduction by)
Assimilation's Agent reveals the life and opinions of Edwin L. Chalcraft (1855-1943), a superintendent in the federal Indian boarding schools during the critical periodĀ of forced assimilation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Chalcraft was hired by the Office of Indian Affairs (now known as the Bureau of Indian Affairs) in 1883. During his nearly four decades of service, he worked at a number of Indian boarding schools and agencies, including the Chehalis Indian School in Oakville, Washington; Puyallup Indian School in Tacoma, Washington; Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Oregon; Wind River Indian School in Wind River, Wyoming; Jones Male Academy in Hartshorne, Oklahoma; and Siletz Indian Agency in Oregon. In this memoir Chalcraft discusses the Grant peace policy, the inspection system, allotment, the treatment of tuberculosis, corporal punishment, alcoholism, and patronage. Extensive coverage is also given to the Indian Shaker Church and the government's response to this perceived threat to assimilation. Assimilation's Agent illuminates the sometimes treacherous political maneuverings and difficult decisions faced by government officials at Indian boarding schools. It offers a rarely heard and today controversial "top-down" view of government policies to educate and assimilate Indians. Drawing on a large collection of unpublished letters and documents, Cary C. Collins's introduction and notes furnish important historical background and context. Assimilation's Agent illustrates the government's long-term program for dealing with Native peoples and the shortcomings of its approach during one of the most consequential eras in the long and often troubled history of American Indian and white relations.

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