In the years from 1887, the United States Federal government began a process of assimilating the native Indians in the land to the American culture. This paper aims to describe the assimilation policy and the interrelation s between the slogan “Kill the Indian and Save the Man”, the film, “The Only Good Indian”, and the assimilation policy advocated by Captain Pratt.
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The aspects of the assimilation policy can be approached from three perspectives, the film perspective, Captain Pratt’s perspective, and the slogan, “Kill the Indian, Save the Man”. The assimilation policy was a policy that aimed to completely kill the Indian culture and replace it with the American culture by taking the young children to American-style schools.
In the movie, “The Only Good Indian”, the main character is a young boy, Charlie; who is kidnapped from his family and taken to the Haskell Indian Industrial (Trade) School to be trained in the American culture. The school is depicted as a hell hole where the children are treated with disrespect and forced to abandon their culture, by being beaten, raped, and tortured.
Therefore, the assimilation policy depicted in the school is one of torture and forced culture change. The use of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the film is also used to depict the assimilation policy in a different way. Though the Americans argued that they were enlightening the children, the main character likens school administrators to the blood sucking vampire in the book by Bram Stoker.
Therefore, the book is used to show the White people as a soul sucking people instead of the saviors of the Indian people. However, the children who were forced to assimilate the American culture were not fully accepted into the culture. This is depicted by the other main character in the movie, Sam, who is a self made private investigator who brings Charlie back when he escapes from the school. Sam is treated as a fugitive by the Americans and ends up being pursued together with Charlie.
The assimilation policy described by Captain Pratt is one where the Native American culture is killed and replaced by the American culture. This relates to both the film theme and the slogan because they all described a situation where the Indian spirit is killed, and replaced by the American culture. This means that Captain Pratt’s assimilation policy encourages the forceful replacement of the Indian culture with the American culture by taking the Native American young to school and forcing them to learn the American culture.