The movie Where the Spirit lives expressed two different views on the native peoples ne is that the government tried to assimilate the native culture into a society that was far different from theirs. The second is that the government set a law enforcing that if the native children left the schools they had no choice but to go back to the reserve.
Viewing this movie, the main problem that was shown was that the government would take the native children from their reserves and family dwellings. They would use the laws set to seclude and isolate the children from their parents while placing them into a school that was geared for the native culture. The effects that the native children had while they lived in these schools have been the loss of the native tongue, their given names and the memories that they had from their reserves. They had rules set upon them that forced them to speak English and not speak any native or call each other by their native names. If they were caught then they were punished and made examples of. It took a while for the natives to adapt and at first they felt lonely until they accepted what was happening. The children were educated about the un-educated native and how they were drunks, stupid and against God and his rules. The native children would sneak out late at night but had no chance to escape because within the day the local Indian Agent would capture them and return them. The children were told many lies some being that their parents had died, resulting in the loss of any ambitions of returning home to their family. These young native children were faced with many types of abuse. Emotional abuse was very common between the teachers or even the priest. Others experienced sexual and physical abuse from the teachers working at the school. This movie obviously showed that what happened was wrong and is not stood for anymore.
The Governments plan to assimilate and abolish native rights was a failure in the end. The children couldn t forget the terror and loneliness that they felt in the separate schools which scared them in later years when they had to adapt to the outside world. Sure they received an education and learned to speak English but this did not help them with gaining a job because of the fact that the whole nation was prejudice toward the native peoples. The majority of the natives were left in poverty. They realized they had only one chance to feel at home, so they went back to the reserves that they were taken from and had a chance to feel wanted and secure. It was shown that taking the children from their homes only was a mistake and that it would have been far better for the natives to stay on the reserve and preserve their heritage.
When Native children are being lied to, sexually assaulted, emotionally scared and beaten, what is the positive change in all of this? It was against their will, kidnapping them and torturing them in a society that was far different from their own. The school system tried to change their beliefs and steal their heritage from them almost like a brainwash was the government s goal. They were taken from their language, background, family and beliefs. The end result was the children returning to the reserves where they felt loved and cared for not like the society that we presently live in which is prejudice by nature.