In the White MansImage

Published: 2019-11-18 09:30:00
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As narrated by Benjamin C. Bradley, the documentary film, In the White Mans Image (1992) alludes to an ancient setting that portrays the ambitious trial dubbed; kill the Indian, save the man by one Captain Richard Pratt. This operation was due to the involvement of seventy-two Indian warriors in the murder of white settlers. In what is viewed as a rather good-will approach from Pratt, he escorted the murder suspects to Fort Marion in Floridas Augustine and put them on a rehab-like routine. The beginning of the routine involved learning spoken and written English and changing their clothing and dressing like American soldiers. The motive behind Pratts action was to completely change the Indians from their native culture and assimilate them into the American way of life; because according to the Americans, no Indian was good, except a dead one.' Throughout the documentary, the integrity of an individuals commitment to their nativity and culture is put to the test; and it is interesting to learn the feasibility of culture and belief eroding practices.

At the beginning of the exercise, the Indian warriors ripped off the physical aspects of their culture through the change of their clothes and hair shaving. This act seems to be a favorable treatment and is a noble act of humanity considering that they have been accused of murder. Other exiled Cheyenne Indians are changed into army members. These actions lead to the establishment of Carlise School for the Indians where the children of the Indians are made to choose new names such as Luther. Towards the 1880s more such schools are established within the United States, which emphasized on the principles of individualism and industrialization; a massive contradiction to the Indian culture. The sole reason of these operations was to ultimately erode the Indian culture which was viewed as utterly inferior and degenerate by the westerners. During the Outing the Indian children stayed with the settler families to help them ease into the western culture despite the rejection and servant-like treatment by the white families. Even their stories were translated and transformed into the white culture in recitations such as the Hiawatha to hasten the assimilation. As the plot progresses, the viewer is made to understand that some of the Indians secretly held up some of their spiritual belief despite the physical and psychological transformations they underwent.

Back in the Indian reservations, there was dire poverty and diseases were full people away. Mostly the natives there depended on upon government provisions for survival. Return to these reservations was viewed as awkward and was often referred to as returning to the blanket.' The returning to the blanket fate was often a nightmare for the English school graduates since they could not adequately fit within their original reservations. They were neither viewed as Indians nor Americans and could not be accepted by either as a result. The trauma and pressure of non-acceptance were so huge that an individual like Plenty Horses shot Lieutenant Casey in the head to regain the respect, trust, and acceptance among his people. The story ends with a disastrous war that leads to emptiness and sorrow in both camps.

The documentary illustrates the strong commitment of both camps to their cultures, each viewing theirs as superior and principal. As the whites struggle to assimilate the Indians into their culture, the Indians hold onto their culture even to the point of execution and death. Of course, there are a few exceptions like the individuals who intermarried and assimilated into the American lifestyle.

sheldon

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