American Indian Girls Playing with Dolls
In this photograph, taken near the turn of the 20th century, American Indian girls in the southwestern United States are learning through play how to be mothers and keepers of the home. In this photograph, a Hopi girl in Arizona follows her mother's example; she wraps her baby doll in a blanket and carries her on her back, in contrast to the Anglo girl who holds her doll in her arms.
At the turn of the 20th century many white women missionaries and social reformers regarded these common Indian ways of mothering and keeping house as savage and uncivilized. They condemned the use of cradleboards and regarded tepees and wickiups, even Hopi adobe homes, as evidence of Indian women's savagery. Believing that the transformation of Indian girls' methods of raising children and keeping house were central to the assimilation of Indian people, many white women reformers promoted the removal of Indian children from their families. Instead, they favored their institutionalization in distant boarding schools where they would be taught middle-class Anglo methods of mothering.