Straight from the Horse’s Mouth is inspired by the accounts in Brenda Child’s book Boarding School Seasons and demonstrates how communities developed differently constructed systems of knowledge about the natural and social world by exposing letters written between the children and their family’s that serve has road maps in displaying the many factors that have influenced these variations between communities.
The Native American population, through its experience of repeated attacks in hopes of forced assimilation carried out by separate communities in this case European settlers, acts as example by displaying how experiences affect understandings that shape our knowledge and how it’s interpreted. In this piece it is clear that there is more than one “truth” to an event in history. By focusing on the stories in these letters the reactionary rhetoric shows the underlying factors for how the Native American’s knowledge continued to construct differently from the knowledge of their newly acquired “roommates”.
Native American families were exposed to new schooling tactics that as was evident through the content in their exchanged letters were mostly if not all negative in experience for their community as a whole. The effects of these experiences affect the mindset of a groups feeling and judgment on how a system works, resulting in opposition. The structural details that comprised the institution of education that European settlers had brought with them and imposed upon the Native American people was assured as a positive step for their community but was soon to show its disjointed nature in with concerns to the already established knowledge systems the Native American’s had. This causes an opposition.
Opposition can be expressed as the emotional reaction to a specific ideology, which will in turn develop a belief against the community who imposes it. This opposition does not stop at its disdain for the current order, but develops its own answers and beliefs for how the natural and social world should be and is defined and thus how the two worlds should interact. This is shown through cultural practices.
The accounts of these Native American children who express homesickness, illness, and rebellions, paired with the parents of these children also expressing fear for their children’s well being is an example that can provide insight to possibly why many tribes today have differing views from other demographics on boarding school education, but also concerning their beliefs of American culture as well based off of the actions taken against the Native communities. In understanding the children’s view points through this story we can attribute also a factor of generational experience that influences future mindsets. The experience of these children who will eventually grow into adulthood and take with them the memories of their experiences continues to shape way their culture is constructed. Pan-Indian culture is used as an example for a construct that was developed during this time. Out of the Native American’s opposition to their situation they formed new ideas based off of new experiences. Tribes that historically had no commonalities now had the bond of oppression by the “white man”.