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Civilize Them with a Stick

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In the short essay “Civilize Them With a Stick” Mary Dog writes about her experiences in a catholic boarding school as a child. The white race in American had a goal to civilize or integrate the Native Americans to the norms and values of the whites starting in 1879. They were doing this so the Native Americans became apart of the dominant society, which then was the whites society in America. They took the Native American children from their homes and from their families and placed them into boarding schools.

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Thousands of children were forced to live in these boarding schools their whole adolescent years. The children were abused in these so-called “boarding schools”. Many Native Americans now compare this incident to the Nazi concentration camps during world war II. The children had very strict rules and schedules. Their schedule usually went as followed, “Six A. M. , kneeling in church for an hour or so; seven o’clock, breakfast; eight o’clock, scrub the floor, peel spuds, make classes” (Dog 565).

If the children didn’t listen or were to disobey any rules they would be swatted many times by the nuns with a wooden stick. Other times they were placed in a dark boarded up the room while only being fed bread and water for a week. The children were only able to see their families for just 7 days out of the 365 in the year. Many children tried to run away from the boarding school, but ultimately were found and brought back and then immediately swatted with a wooden stick. As children got bigger and older they had thoughts about fighting back.

Mary Dog, the author was one to fight back and ended up hitting one of her priests in the face after she tried to stand up for one of her fellow classmates. She was soon kicked out. The priest she hit ended up later realizing how bad the boarding school was treating the Native Americans and started standing up for them. Mary Dog wrote this short essay to show how people tend to not use the cultural relativism perspective and how everyone from the dominant society wants the other little societies to be socialized in theirs own.

  1. Why did the Americans use force to try to socialize the Native Americans?
  2. Why didn’t more Native Americans stand up to the Americans or fight back?
  3. How did this experience affect Mary Crow Dog’s view of white people?
  4. Why did Mary Dog write this short story about her experiences?
  5. Why could this incident be closely compared to a Nazi concentration camp?


  1. Dog, Mary C. “Civilize Them With A Stick. ” Mapping the Social Landscape. Ed. Richard Erdoes. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 561-68. Print.

Cite this Civilize Them with a Stick

Civilize Them with a Stick. (2016, Nov 26). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/civilize-them-with-a-stick/

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