During the 1900’s, the United States had a tight relationship with Puerto Rico. The U.S had a strong reign over Puerto Rico after the Spanish-American War which resulted in having control the nation’s political, economic, and social assets. During this period, the U.S public mentality towards the island was one of awe and patronizing attitude. There were many different programs that U.S created in helping the Puerto Rican population to integrate to American life/culture. One way was to educate Puerto Rican children in American institutions.
The entry An Indian in Spite of Myself, is an auto-biographical account of a Puerto Rican individual, Juan José Osuna. This was written in 1932, in which the content of the document entails on Osuna’s personal account when he left Puerto Rico to study in the United States. He was chosen by his a manager of a tobacco corporation, where Osuna worked, from his town, and was able to have a scholarship to study at Carlisle Indian Industrial school in Carlisle, PA.
As Osuna recalls his experience on how he was treated at Carlisle Indian Industrial school. He states that he and the other students had to laborious work at the school and the instructors in this school would only communicate in English. At stated in this document, “We [students] were very disappointed lot. I had decided to become a lawyer, but I did not see that in this school I would ever get nearer my goal” (139). The objective of this school was to educate the native Americans and Puerto Ricans in becoming full-fledge Americans, as well in becoming “well-civilized”. This mentality reflects on U.S paternal attitude towards Puerto Rico and the other nations under their control. Puerto Ricans struggled to be seen by the white Americans as equal individuals rather than “uncivilized” individuals. Another component seen in Osuna’s experience is how conflicted American public was towards Puerto Ricans. During this time, white Americans had difficulty on how to racially label Puerto Ricans. When living outside from Carlisle Indian Industrial school, in the town of Orangeville, Osuna was seen as a spectacle due to the fact that that he was not seen either as a native American or white. Juan Jose Osuna’s experience reflect in a larger scale on U.S agenda with Puerto Rico and how they were reflected in these educational institutions.