“Seeking the Incalculable Benefit of a Faithful, Patient Man and Wife”

Cathleen D. Cahill

in On the Borders of Love and Power

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780520272385
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780520951341 | DOI:
“Seeking the Incalculable Benefit of a Faithful, Patient Man and Wife”

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In the late nineteenth century, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as part of its efforts to assimilate Native American children, began removing them from their home communities and placing them in boarding schools. This chapter examines how policy makers in the federal Indian service attempted to use married school personnel, both white and Indian, as surrogate parents and role models for the patriarchal, nuclear Anglo-American family. As an example of “intimate colonialism,” Cahill discusses the rationale for this policy and the problems associated with hiring married couples, whose priorities often ran counter to those of policy makers. These conflicts eventually resulted in the bureau's acknowledgement that the policy was a failure.

Keywords: family; federal Indian service; intimate colonialism; boarding schools; Indians; surrogate parent

Chapter.  10553 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Local and Family History

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