Many Native American children were forced to attend missionary or government schools, which punished them for speaking their native languages or practicing their people’s customs.
Sioux writer and activist ZitkalaSa (“Red Bird,” also known as Gertrude Bonnin) described how the “paleface” missionaries at one of these Indian schools clipped her long hair.
“Our mothers,” she said, “had taught us that only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy.”
She tried to fight, but was tied to a chair.
In her words, “I felt the cold blades of the scissors against my neck, and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids. Then I lost my spirit.”
One of the best secondary schools in the South, Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Augusta, Georgia, was started in 1886 by an African American woman, Lucy Craft Laney, a graduate of Atlanta University.