The Deconstruction of Aboriginal Identity in Residential Schools
The Deconstruction of Aboriginal Identity in Residential Schools
Tomson Highway’sKiss of the Fur Queenis about the narrative of two male childs born on a Cree reserve in northern Manitoba, who have problem organizing an individuality after sing physical and sexual maltreatment at a Catholic residential school during their young person. Similarly, Rabbit-Proof Fence, a movie directed by Phillip Noyce, depicts the narrative of three Aboriginal kids who embark on a journey to travel back place after being taken from their household under authorities edict and forced into a colony cantonment. The residential schools in these two narratives maintain power through assimilation and by learning the kids to forger their households and their civilization and re-invent themselves as members of a ‘white’ society. The ability of the pupils to retain their Aboriginal beliefs, memories and narratives – the really ideologies residential schools sought to snuff out – allows them to get away, Jeremiah, inKiss of the FurQueen, figuratively and Molly, inRabbit-Proof Fence,literally.
In Highway’sKiss of the Fur QueenAboriginal kids are taken from their households and forced, by jurisprudence, to go to residential schools when they reach the age of seven. At these schools, the immature kids are robbed of their civilization and assimilated into European society. One of the chief supporters, Jeremiah, is forced to cut his hair upon his reaching to the school. The intent of the haircut is to extinguish individualism. This is similar to cutting hair in prisons and the ground forces, but in this instance it besides removes a cultural individuality symbol – the customary long hair of Aboriginal people. This subject of power is evident when Jeremiah is acquiring his hair cut and he feels as if “he [ is ] being skinned alive, in public ; the Centre of his nakedness shrivel [ s ] to the size and texture of a raisin, the whole universe staring, indicating, laughing” ( Highway 53 ) . All in all, the film editing of his hair strips a portion of his Cree individuality. Another illustration of how the residential schools sustain power is through the act of altering the children’s Aboriginal names into a Christian one, thereby implementing upon him a Christian individuality against his wants while, at the same clip, gnawing his Aboriginal individuality. The enforcement of the Christian names besides represents aggressive integrating of European values and beliefs. The last practise of the coerced socialization is the forbiddance of native linguistic communications. Upon reaching at the residential school, the Aboriginal kids are out to talk their ain linguistic communication even if they have no cognition of English. As a consequence, they face trouble in pass oning with each other and the colonisers. Jeremiah, while seeking to soothe his younger brother who is geting at the school for the first clip, is instructed by the principal of the school that he is “not to talk Cree one time [ he’s ] off the plane” ( Highway 70 ) . In this narrative, linguistic communication is a cardinal characteristic of one’s national individuality. Baning the usage of the native lingua robs the kids of their individuality which is a technique for residential schools to keep power. The regulations and ordinances in the residential school represent the extent of the power of the residential school and demo how this power causes Jeremiah torment as he experiences a actual mutilation of the nucleus of his Aboriginal individuality.
Jeremiah’s ability to keep his Aboriginal beliefs, memories and narratives while at the school allows him to get away the power concept of the residential schools. He uses his endowment of music to get away the assimilation. The foreigner and endangering environment of the residential schools is transformed by art – in Jeremiah’s instance, by music:
All he knew was that this music was coming nearer and closer. Pretty as the vocal of the chickadees in spring, it tickled his tympanums. Like a ripe dwarf mulberry in high July, his bosom opened out. He forgot the olfactory property of the metal and bleach, and he forgot the amusing form of his open caput that had caused such mockery from the male childs of other militias. ( Highway 56 ) .
Music allows Jeremiah to transform and exceed the abrasiveness and solitariness of his milieus, and returns him to the comfort of the natural sights, sounds and gustatory sensations of place. He associates the sound of music with chickadees and dwarf mulberries, both of which represent fond memories of his yesteryear. The music allows him to retrieve his clip at place and for a minute, he is able to get away the absoluteness of the residential school. In add-on, music allows him to bury the injury of losing his hair, name and linguistic communication.He subverts the power of the residential schools by retrieving his yesteryear and individuality, which is the really thing the schools are seeking to decrease. Escaping through memories and music allows Jeremiah to overthrow the power of the school. Another case in which Jeremiah uses music to diminish the power of the residential schools is when he is singing a vocal to the principal in his office and he knows ”then that he had the principal of the Birch Lake Indian Residential school forthrightly in the thenar of his hand” ( Highyway 67 ) . Through music, Jeremiah is able to maintain a portion of his individuality. The priest’s enjoyment in Jeremiah’s vocalizing shows that the Aboriginal kids have a batch to offer and are more than merely docile topics for the school to command. It besides shows that the priest is unable to wholly take away the individuality of this Aboriginal male child and he will still hold his endowment of singing Native vocals, no affair how hard the school attempts to acquire rid of all facets of his Aboriginal individuality.
Similar toKiss of the Fur Queen, the Aboriginal kids in the movie,Rabbit-Proof Fence,are forced to travel to residential schools and leave their household and civilization buttocks. The three chief characters, Molly, Daisy and Gracie are forcibly removed from their place in an attempt to be ‘civilized’ by assimilation into European society and civilization. Equally shortly as the misss arrive at the colony cantonment, the scene of the cantonment shows how Neville and his staff effort to stamp down the Aboriginal individuality and replace it with that of the ‘white Australia’ . Everything about the colony is foreign and shows that these misss will so be stripped of their individuality. Similar toKing of the Fur Queen, the misss are told that they “do n’t utilize that gabble here. You speak English” ( Rabbit-Proof ) . This control for linguistic communication is a authoritative scheme by colonisers who seek to wipe out the individuality of the Aboriginal people. By utilizing the word “jabber” it denigrates the local lingua of the Natives. It is dissing as it claims their linguistic communication as meaningless and worthless obliging the childs to believe their civilization is besides worthless. The colony reinforces power by coercing the childs to merely talk English merely and in the procedure, strips them of their Aboriginal individuality. Along with unfamiliar nutrient and address, comes rinsing and new apparels. This symbolizes the cleaning of the misss of their outward show difference, once more altering their individuality. They are all forced to dress the same, eat and travel to bed at the same clip, recite Christian supplications, and merely make what is told of them. All these bids take away the alone Aboriginal individuality of the kids and shows the power of the residential school. Additionally, their uniforms, nutrient, padlocks, barred Windowss and the difficult cold beds are evocative of a prison, reenforcing the power of the school by coercing the kids to hammer their individuality by set uping regulations of an about prison-like constitution.
After regular corsets in lone parturiency, the three misss are scared and homesick, therefore program and put to death a dare flight from the inexorable cantonment. In contrast toKiss of the Fur Queen,which is about figuratively get awaying the power of the residential schools, in this movie, Molly, Daisy and Gracie literally escape the colony. The immature misss use the endurance cognition that they have obtained from their Aboriginal roots to get away. An illustration of this is the spirit bird. This bird symbolises place and is meant to take the girl’s place ( Rabbit-Proof ) . By retrieving their Native beliefs, which claims that this is a spirit bird, Molly is able to derive bravery to go on her quest to acquire place. She subverts the power of the residential schools by get awaying the colony cantonment by flim-flaming the tracker and avoiding the white colonisers. This subverts the power of the residential schools because it shows that these misss are cagey and rely on intuition and hereditary cognition of nature, whereas the colonisers have engineering such as maps and autos yet still can non happen the misss. The binary between engineering and nature is evident in this movie, where the power of engineering that the colonisers have is no lucifer for the hereditary cognition of nature that the kids have. Even though the immature misss are on pes with no H2O and nutrient, they are able to outwit the colonisers. Their flight destroys the mentality of the colonisers who think that rinsing the kids, giving them new apparels and restricting them in prison-like suites will all of a sudden wipe out their Aboriginal individuality wholly. This shows that the power of the colonisers does non travel beyond the walls of the residential schools. They may be able to coerce them to talk and dress a certain manner within the school, but they lack control over them elsewhere. All in all, the flight represents how the power of the colonisers is being challenged by the three small misss.
In bothKiss of the Fur QueenandRabbit-Proof Fence,the Aboriginal kids are stripped of their individuality by the power that the residential schools assert. They are forcefully assimilated and see a loss of linguistic communication, frock, civilization, hair and faith. Jeremiah subverts the power of the residential school by escape through music, whereas Molly subverts the power of the residential school by literally get awaying.