The National Park Service Along With Local Tribes To Hold Ceremony For New Exhibits
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE: Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area ends its busy summer season with the completion of a visitor center exhibit renovation at Fort Spokane. The new interpretive exhibits, inside the old fort guardhouse, will be dedicated at a special ceremony on Friday, September 17, 2010 from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm. The event will be comprised of a blessing of the site, a few words from special guests, drumming, and the ribbon cutting, to be followed by a reception with light refreshments and a tour of the new exhibits.
At the tail end of the Indian Wars period in the late 1800s, Fort Spokane was built as a precautionary keeper of the peace in Eastern Washington. After being used as a fort for less than two decades, the troops stationed at Fort Spokane were sent south to fight in the Spanish-American War.
The Indian boarding school movement began in the post Civil War era when idealistic reformers convinced leaders of Congress that education could change at least some of the Indian population into patriotic and productive members of society.
One of the first efforts to accomplish this goal was the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, founded by Captain Richard Henry Pratt in 1879. Pratt was a leading proponent of the assimilation through education policy. Believing that Indian ways were inferior to those of whites, he subscribed to the principle, "kill the Indian and save the man."
At boarding schools Indian boys and girls as young as 6 years were forcibly removed from their families and subjected to a complete transformation. Photographs taken at the Fort Spokane school illustrate how they looked "before" and "after". The dramatic contrast between traditional clothing and hairstyles and Victorian styles of dress helped convince the public that through boarding school education Indians could become completely "civilized". The new exhibits are the first at a National Park Service site to tell this darker story of early American history.
After the boarding school period, the fort was then used as a tuberculosis sanitarium. The visitor center, with its new interactive exhibits, captures these stories in a way that underlines the profound impact this site and others like it have had on American Indian culture and society.
Exhibits also explore frontier military life, flora, fauna, and geological history of the region.
A number of park employees, tribal consultants, and contracted exhibit designers and installers participated in the multi-year project.
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