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Title: Language lost
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From: USA
Registered: 11/21/2008

(Date Posted:02/09/2009 21:39 PM)
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Language lost

"When you destroy a person's language, it destroys their world view. They're left with only fragments. I speak Spanish, and I speak English. When you think in Spanish, it's totally different. When they leave the school and go back to the reservation, they're still Indian, but not anymore."
- Jorge Estevez (Taino), participant coordinator, Museum of the American Indian, New York, 2000

The destruction of native languages was one of Pratt's main objectives. Children began English lessons as soon as they arrived at Carlisle. Students were punished, sometimes severely, if caught speaking their native languages, even in private.

According to Tsianina Lomawaima, a professor at the University of Arizona and author of a book about the Chilocco Indian School in Oklahoma, Carlisle and other boarding schools modeled after it didn't instantly eliminate native languages. But because of their school experiences, many former students decided not to teach these languages to their children.
Sterling Hollow Horn, 38, who works at KILI, a Lakota-language radio station on the Pine Ridge Reservation, had several relatives who attended Carlisle and has witnessed this in his own community.

"They didn't let [the students] speak in the old language," says Hollow Horn, a member of revered leader Crazy Horse's band of the Lakota people. "They set a dangerous precedent. I'm fluent in the Sioux language. Most people my age don't speak the language. It's dying out. The whole spirituality and way of thinking is intertwined with the language. That's all being lost. Carlisle was the starting point for this."

In 1995, Ed Farnham, a major in the US Army, learned he was being transferred from his base in Germany to the Carlisle Barracks. Originally from upstate New York, Farnham was excited he would be living closer to his family. When he called his mother to tell her, she asked him, "Don't you know what that place is?" Only then did he realize he would be living in the same Carlisle that had been the subject of murmurings in his family.

Farnham's grandmother, Mamie Mt. Pleasant, attended the Indian School for nearly a decade. A Tuscarora Indian, she was 14 when she was sent to Carlisle. Mamie's older brother Frank had been one of the school's star athletes in football and track and field. When Mamie came to Carlisle in 1908, Frank was in London as a member of the US Olympic track-and-field team, but was unable to compete in the broad jump because of a torn knee ligament. Before she graduated from Carlisle in 1917, Mamie learned to sew and was rumored to have been courted by another Carlisle athlete - Jim Thorpe.

Though he grew up across the street from his grandmother on the Tuscarora reservation near Niagara Falls, New York, Farnham wa
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