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Carlisle Indian Industrial School

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Title: Carlisle Indian Industrial School  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Blue Horse (Lakota leader), American Indian boarding schools, Oglala Lakota, Richard Henry Pratt, William Henry Dietz
Collection: 1879 Establishments in Pennsylvania, Assimilation of Indigenous Peoples of North America, Buildings and Structures in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Defunct Universities and Colleges in Pennsylvania, Educational Institutions Established in 1879, National Historic Landmarks in Pennsylvania, Native American Boarding Schools, Native American History of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State Historical Marker Significations, School Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Carlisle Indian Industrial School

Carlisle Indian School
Carlisle Indian School logo
Location Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Area 24.5 acres (9.9 ha)
Built 1880
Architectural style Colonial Revival
Governing body United States Army
NRHP Reference # 66000658[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL July 4, 1961[2]
Designated PHMC August 31, 2003[3]
From 1879 until 1918, over 10,000 Native American children from 140 tribes attended Carlisle. Only 158 graduated.[4]

The United States Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, generally known as Carlisle Indian Industrial School, was the flagship Indian boarding school in the United States from 1879 through 1918. Founded in 1879 by Captain Richard Henry Pratt under authority of the US federal government, Carlisle was the first federally funded off-reservation Indian boarding school. It was founded on the principle that Native Americans were the equals of European-Americans, and that Native American children immersed in mainstream Euro-American culture would learn skills to advance in society. In this period, many Anglo-Americans believed mistakenly that Native Americans were a vanishing race whose only hope for survival was rapid cultural transformation.[5]

After witnessing the initial success of the Indian students at Hampton Normal and Agricultural School, General Richard Henry Pratt decided to establish the first all Indian school, Carlisle, in 1879. Carlisle was built out of a former prison barracks. Like Hampton, upon arrival at Carlisle students’ hair were cut and names were changed. However, “[u]nlike Hampton, whose purpose was to return assimilated educated Indians to their people, Carlisle meant to turn the school into the ultimate Americanizer”.[6] At Carlisle, Pratt attempted to “Kill the Indian: Save the Man” [6] through any means necessary. Beyond a typical military regiment, Pratt was known to use corporal punishment on students who exhibited Native behaviors to help students become only dependent on themselves.[7]

Carlisle became the model for 26 Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding schools in 15 states and territories, and hundreds of private boarding schools sponsored by religious denominations. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark. From 1879 until 1918, over 10,000 Native American children from 140 tribes attended Carlisle;[8] however, according to one source, only 158 students graduated.[4] Tribes with the largest number of students included the Lakota, Ojibwe, Seneca, Oneida, Cherokee, Apache, Cheyenne, and Alaska Native.[9] The Carlisle Indian School exemplified Progressive Era values.[10] Some Native Americans believed Carlisle provided an excellent education.[11]

Carlisle Indian School pennant, school song, motto and yell. "Min-ni-wa-ka! Ka-wa-wi! Woop her up! Woop her up! Who are we? Carlisle! Carlisle!! Carlisle!!!

Carlisle and similar schools have been controversial because many Native Americans say that these forced children to leave their families at young ages, and to give up their own cultures, languages, religion and even their names, doing psychological damage to generations. Since the 1970s, Native American nations have taken back control of the education of their children and started their own schools and colleges. At the same time, more Native Americans are living in urban environments and having to accommodate contemporary society.


  • Founding 1
    • Richard Henry Pratt 1.1
    • Pratt founds Carlisle 1.2
    • Culture at Carlisle 1.3
    • Student recruitment 1.4
    • American Horse 1.5
    • Model U.S. Indian Boarding School 1.6
  • Community 2
    • Carlisle, Pennsylvania 2.1
    • Dickinson College 2.2
  • Curricula and extra-curricula programs 3
    • Carlisle Summer Outing Program 3.1
    • Student internships 3.2
    • The "Carlisle Indians" (sports teams) 3.3
    • The Carlisle Indian Band 3.4
    • Native American arts program 3.5
  • Political context 4
    • Progressive Era fight for the image of Native Americans 4.1
    • Society of American Indians 4.2
  • Native Americans in mainstream culture at the time 5
    • World fairs and expositions 5.1
    • The Inaugural Parade of President Theodore Roosevelt, 1905 5.2
    • Carlisle "Wild Westers" 5.3
  • Closing and legacy 6
    • Pratt's retirement 6.1
    • Assimilation efforts at Carlisle 6.2
    • Back on the reservation 6.3
    • Deaths from infectious diseases 6.4
    • Carlisle's latter years 6.5
  • Contemporary institutions 7
    • U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center 7.1
    • U.S. Army War College—Jim Thorpe Sports Day 7.2
    • Carlisle Indian School Resource Center 7.3
  • In media 8
  • See also 9
  • Notes 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Richard Henry Pratt

General Pratt and a young student.

Richard Henry Pratt was a Civil War veteran who was an officer in the 10th Cavalry Regiment, or Buffalo Soldiers, in the southern plains of the United States. In 1875, Pratt transported a group of 72 prisoners of war from the Red River War in Indian Territory to Fort Marion, an old Spanish fort in St. Augustine, Florida. He supervised their incarceration. At Fort Marion, Pratt developed an educational program for the prisoners, which included education in the English language and encouraging Christian conversion. When the prisoners were freed in 1878, 17 attended the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, a historically black college established soon after the Civil War for freedmen. A few were educated at private colleges in New York state, while many returned home.

Captain Pratt and Southern Plains veterans of the Red River War at Fort Marion, Florida, 1875. Several of these prisoners-of-war later attended college, including Carlisle
Pratt's Fort Marion experiment was becoming influential. Distinguished visitors began to visit from all over the country. The U.S. Commissioner of education came to see firsthand what Pratt was doing, and so did the president of Amherst College.[12]

Pratt's Fort Marion program convinced him that "distant education" was the only way to totally assimilate the Indian. He wrote, the Indian “is born a blank, like all the rest of us. Transfer the savage born infant to the surroundings of a civilization and he will grow to possess a civilized language and habit.”[13] Witmer writes,

If all men are created equal, then why were blacks segregated in separate regiments and Indians segregated on separate tribal reservations? Why weren't all men given equal opportunities and allowed to assume their rightful place in society? Race became a meaningless abstraction in his mind.[14][15]

Pratt believed an industrial school model similar to Hampton would be useful for educating and assimilating Native Americans.

Give me three hundred young Indians and a place in one of our best communities, and let me prove it! Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania, has been abandoned for a number of years. It is in the heart of fine agricultural country. The people are kindly disposed, and long free from the universal border prejudice against Indians.
— Pratt[16]

Pratt and his supporters successfully lobbied Congress to establish the off-reservation boarding school for Native Americans at the historic Carlisle Barracks in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.[17]

Pratt founds Carlisle

By October 1879, Captain Richard Henry Pratt had recruited the first students for the Carlisle Indian Industrial School; eighty-two boys and girls in native dress arrived on the eastern edge of Carlisle at midnight. Hundreds of people from Carlisle were waiting at the railroad station to walk with them to the ”Old Barracks.”[18] The Carlisle Indian School formally opened on November 1, 1879, with an enrollment of 147 students. The youngest was six and the eldest twenty-five, but the majority were teenagers. Two-thirds were the children of Plains Indian tribal leaders. The first class was made up of eighty-four Lakota, fifty-two Cheyenne, Kiowa and Pawnee, and eleven Apache. The class included a group of students from Fort Marion who wanted to continue their education with Pratt at Carlisle.[19]

Pratt believed that Native Americans were the equals of whites, and founded Carlisle to immerse their children in white culture and teach them English, new skills and customs, in order to help them survive. After the end of Great Sioux War in 1877, the Lakota people were impoverished, harassed and confined to a reservation. At the time, many people believed Native Americans were a vanishing race whose only hope for survival was rapid cultural transformation. The U.S. government urgently sought a progressive educational model to rapidly assimilate Indians into white culture. Whether this could be achieved and how rapidly it could be done was unknown.[17] Pratt believed he could make use of the Carlisle facility. He thought its proximity to officials in Washington, D.C. would help him educate officials about the Indian capacity for learning.[20]

Culture at Carlisle

As part of the cultural and language immersion, children were supposed to learn English. School officials also required students to take new English names, either by choice or assignment. This was confusing, as the names from which they were to choose had no meaning for them. Luther Standing Bear was one of the first students to arrive when Carlisle opened its doors in 1879. Once there, he was asked to choose a name from a list on the wall. He randomly pointed at the symbols on a wall and named himself Luther, and his father's name became his surname.[21]

The children had to change the way they dressed and give up traditional ways. The long hair of the boys was cut in Euro-American style, and boys and girls were given uniforms of American-style clothing - dresses for the girls.

Luther reported:

“The civilizing process began at Carlisle began with clothes. Whites believed the Indian children could not be civilized while wearing moccasins and blankets. Their hair was cut because in some mysterious way long hair stood in the path of our development. They were issued the clothes of white men. High collar stiff-bosomed shirts and suspenders fully three inches in width were uncomfortable. White leather boots caused actual suffering."[22]

Standing Bear later wrote that red flannel underwear caused "actual torture."[22] He remembered the red flannel underwear as "the worst thing about life at Carlisle.”[22]

The children who arrived at Carlisle able to speak some English were presented to the other children as translators. The authorities at the School sometimes used the children’s traditional respect for elders to require them to inform on other children’s misbehavior. This was typical of the pattern in the large families of the time, in which older children were required to take care of and discipline younger children.

Discipline was strict and consistent, according to the military tradition, with a student ‘court-martial’ for serious cases. The discipline of boys was related to army rules.

  • Carlisle Indian Industrial School Graduates 1889–1895
  • Carlisle Indian Industrial School , Archives & Special Collections, Waidner-Spahr Library, Dickinson College.
  • Carlisle Indian Industrial School from the Library of Congress at Flickr Commons.
  • "Carlisle Indian School", Cumberland County Historical Society.
  • Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center
  • "Carlisle Indian Industrial School Photograph Collection" US Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.
  • Carlisle Indian Industrial School, (1879-1918). Barbara Landis, Carlisle Indian School Biographer.
  • Richard Henry Pratt Papers. Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
  • (2008) ISBN 978-0-9774486-7-8 Life stories of 50 Carlisle Indian School football playersDoctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs.
  • "Fort Marion Artists", Smithsonian Institution

External links

  • Adams, David Wallace (1997). Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience 1875–1928,. University of Kansas Press.  
  • Anderson, Lars (2007). Carlisle vs. Army: Jim Thorpe, Dwight Eisenhower, Pop Warner, and the Forgotten Story of Football's Greatest Battle. Random House.  
  • Eastman, Elaine Goodale (1935). Pratt, the Red Man's Moses. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.  
  • Fear-Segal, Jacqueline. "Nineteenth-Century Indian Education: Universalism Versus Evolutionism", Journal of American Studies, 33 (1999), 2, 323–341. 
  • Fear-Segal, Jacqueline (2007). White Man's Club: Schools and the Struggle of Indian Acculturation. Lincoln, NA: Nebraska UP.  
  • Pratt, Richard Henry (1964). Battlefield and classroom : four decades with the American Indian, 1867–1904. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.  
  • Pratt, Richard Henry (1983). How to deal with the Indians: the potency of environment. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress Photoduplication Service. 
  • Pratt, Richard Henry (1979). The Indian Industrial School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Its origins, purposes, progress, and the difficulties surmounted. Carlisle, PA: Cumberland County Historical Society. 
  • Richard Henry Pratt Papers. Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
  • Witmer, Linda F. (1993). The Indian Industrial School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 1879–1918. Carlisle, PA: Cumberland County Historical Society.  
  • Daniel E. Witte and Paul T. Mero, "Removing Classrooms from the Battlefield: Liberty, Paternalism, and the Redemptive Promise of Educational Choice", 2008 Brigham Young University Law Review 377


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  2. ^ "Carlisle Indian School". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  3. ^ "PHMC Historical Markers". Historical Marker Database. Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Hunt, Darek. " BIA's Impact on Indian Education Is an Education in Bad Education." 30 Jan 2011. Retrieved 3 Nov 2013.
  5. ^ Pratt, Richard Henry, Battlefield and Classroom: Four Decades with the American Indian, (hereinafter "Pratt"). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004, p. xi-xv.
  6. ^ a b Hultgren, Mary Lou (1989). To lead and to serve: American Indian education at Hampton institute 1878-1923. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy in cooperation with Hampton University. 
  7. ^ Pratt, Richard Henry. Twenty-Second Annual Report: The papers of the Society of American Indians. Juniata College: National Historical Publications and Records Commission. 
  8. ^ a b Witmer, cover.
  9. ^ The total number of students is listed as 10,595, with 1,842 list of names and nation unknown. Carlisle Indian School Tribal Enrollment Tally (1879-1918).
  10. ^ Tom Benjey, Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs, (hereinafter "Benjey") (2008), p.6.
  11. ^ Witmer, p.xvi. Sally Jenkins, The Real All Americans, (hereinafter "Jenkins")(2007), p.198
  12. ^ Jenkins, p. 57.
  13. ^ Witmer, p.11.
  14. ^ Witmer, p.3.
  15. ^ Pratt, pp. 6–8.
  16. ^ Elaine Goodale Eastman, Pratt: The Red Man’s Moses (hereinafter "Eastman"), (1935), p.77.
  17. ^ a b Pratt, p. xi-xvi.
  18. ^ Witmer, p.17.
  19. ^ Bell, Telling Stories Out of School, Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford University, 1998, cited in Witmer, p.75, 323 n. 31.
  20. ^ Witmer, pp. 12–13.
  21. ^ Luther Standing Bear, p.133.
  22. ^ a b c Luther Standing Bear, “Land of the Spotted Eagle”, (1933), pp.232-233.
  23. ^ Eastman, p. 209. Witmer, p. 23.
  24. ^ Eastman, p.232
  25. ^ Witmer, p.10.
  26. ^ Witmer 13
  27. ^ Pratt, p.222-224.
  28. ^ Ann Rinaldi, “My Heart is on the Ground: the Diary of Nannie Little Rose, a Sioux Girl, Carlisle Indian School, Pennsylvania, 1880,” (1999), p. 177.
  29. ^ Joseph Agonito, “Lakota Portraits: Lives of the Legendary Plains People” (hereinafter “Agonito”)(2011), p.237.
  30. ^ Luther Standing Bear, "My People the Sioux", (hereinafter "Luther Standing Bear"), (1928), p.162-163.
  31. ^ Herman J. Viola, "Diplomats in Buckskins: A History of Indian Delegations to Washington", (1981), p.50, citing "Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1880", p.viii.
  32. ^ Witmer, p.15.
  33. ^ a b Witmer 25
  34. ^ Witmer, p.115.
  35. ^ a b Witmer, p.24.
  36. ^ Eastman, p.216.
  37. ^ Jenkins p. 216.
  38. ^ Eastman, p. 219.
  39. ^ Nancy Van Dolsen. "Carlisle 1880: A Historical Demographical Approach." Honors History diss., Dickinson College, 1982.
  40. ^ Witmer, p.47.
  41. ^ Jenkins, p.238.
  42. ^ Dickinson College was chartered September 9, 1783, five days after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolutionary War between the newly-independent U.S.A. and the Kingdom of Great Britain, making it the first college to be founded in the newly recognized United States and founded by Benjamin Rush, a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence and originally named "John and Mary's College" in honor of a signer of the United States Constitution.
  43. ^ Pratt noted that, “We had the advantage of contacting and contending with our distinguished neighbor, Dickinson College, with its more than a century of success in developing strong and eminent men to fill the highest places in our national life." Pratt, 316.
  44. ^ Dr. James Andrew McCauley, Professor Charles Francis Himes, Dr. George Edward Reed, Stephen Baird and Joshua Lippincott fostered the relationship between the institutions through religious services, advisory meetings, lectures and commencement speeches.
  45. ^ The presence of Native Americans on campus generated great interest among Dickinson students. Dickinson students enjoyed visiting the Indian School to offer their talents and services. Indeed, the October 24, 1896 "Dickinsonian" "On the Campus" section tells of the new volunteer Sunday School teachers from the college chapter of the Young Mens Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.). It further declares that those who have Indian boys “enjoy a rare privilege. The work is doubly interesting because one can be studying the characteristics of his scholars, at the same time learning many valuable lessons in methods of teaching.” In addition, at the time of the Indian School commencement, it was traditional for a half day holiday to be given so Dickinson students could attend the “very interesting exercises.”
  46. ^
  47. ^ The Indian Craftsman, “Address by Dr. Geo. E. Reed; President of Dickinson College,” May 1909, vol. 1 no. 4 (Carlisle: The Carlisle Indian Press, 1909; reprint. New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1971), 19. The Red Man. “Address by George Edward Reed.” May 1913, vol. 5 no. 9 (Carlisle: The Carlisle Indian Press, 1913; reprint. New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1971), 400.
  48. ^ Charles Francis Himes, "The White Man’s Way; Illustrated Talks on Scientific Subjects to “Indian Chiefs” on their Visits to the Carlisle Indian School." Read before the Historical Section of the Hamilton Library Association, Carlisle, PA. (Carlisle: Hamilton Library Association, 1916), 14. See Jenkins 80-81.
  49. ^ Luther Standing Bear 155
  50. ^ Jacqueline Fear-Segal, “Nineteenth-Century Indian Education: Universalism Versus Evolutionism,” Journal of American Studies 33 (1999): 330. Richard Henry Pratt, The Indian Industrial School, Carlisle Pennsylvania, (PA: Cumberland County Historical Society, 1979): 30. Carmelita A. Ryan, "The Carlisle Indian Industrial School" (Thesis, Georgetown University, 1962), 67.
  51. ^ a b Witmer 29
  52. ^ Luther Standing Bear, p.154-155.
  53. ^ Luther Standing Bear, p. v. The program worked in the East, but not the West.
  54. ^ a b Witmer, p.37.
  55. ^ Benjey, p.21.
  56. ^ Eastman, p.225.
  57. ^ Barbara Landis, "Carlisle Indian Industrial School History" at Pratt, p. 275-276.
  58. ^ Witmer, p.76.
  59. ^ a b Eastman, p.241.
  60. ^ Luther Standing Bear, p. 178.
  61. ^ Luther Standing Bear, p. 182.
  62. ^ Luther Standing Bear, p. 184.
  63. ^ Sally Jenkins, "Excerpt on Carlisle Indians", Sports Illustrated, April 23, 2007
  64. ^ See Carlisle Indian School Yearly Results,
  65. ^ Sally Jenkins, The Real All Americans: The Team that Changed a Game, a People, a Nation. (2007)
  66. ^ Jenkins, p.2-6.
  67. ^ Jenkins 2
  68. ^ Eastman, p. 212.
  69. ^ Luther Standing Bear, p. 149.
  70. ^ Capaldi, Gina (2011). Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native America Author, Musician, and Activist. Millbrook Press. p. 22.  
  71. ^ Rappaport, Helen (2001). Encyclopedia of Women Social Reformers Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 100.  
  72. ^ Witmer, p.77.
  73. ^
  74. ^ Witmer 78-79
  75. ^ Witmer 31
  76. ^ Jane E. Simonsen. Making Home Work: Domesticity and Native American Assimilation. 2006: 203–208. See Suzanne Alene Shope, "American Indian Artist Angel Decora: Aesthetics, Power and Transcultural Pedagogy in the Progressive Era", (2009). More on Francis E. Leupp at
  77. ^ Witmer 120
  78. ^ Witmer 78-80
  79. ^ "It was one thing to portray docile natives who had not progressed much since the late fifteenth century, but quite another matter to portray some of them as armed and dangerous.” L.G. Moses, “Wild West Shows and the Images of American Indians, 1883-1933, (hereinafter “Wild West Shows and Images”) (1996), p.133. Indian Commissioner John H. Oberly explained in 1889: "The effect of traveling all over the country among, and associated with, the class of people usually accompanying shows, circuses and exhibitions, attended by all the immoral and unchristianizing surroundings incident to such a life, is not only most demoralizing to the present and future welfare of the Indian, but it creates a roaming and unsettled disposition and educates him in a manner entirely foreign and antagonistic to that which has been and now is the policy of the Government. “Wild West Shows and Images”, p.69.
  80. ^ Heppler, “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and the Progressive Image of American Indians”.
  81. ^ Joel Phister, "Individually Incorporated Indians and the Multicultural Modern", (2004), p.72.
  82. ^ Nancy J. Parezo and Don D. Fowler, “The 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition: Anthropology Goes to the Fair”, (hereinafter "Parezo and Fowler"), (2007), p.6.
  83. ^ Jason A. Heppler, “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and the Progressive Image of American Indians”, 2011. Buffalo Bill's Wild West and the Progressive Image of American Indians is a collaborative project of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of History with the assistance from the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
  84. ^ Witmer, p.113.
  85. ^ Witmer, p.115. See Laura Turner,"John Nicholas Choate and the Production of Photography at the Carlisle Indian School" at
  86. ^ Jenkins, p.82
  87. ^ Jenkins. p.276
  88. ^
  89. ^ David R.M. Beck, “The Myth of the Vanishing Race”, Associate Professor, Native American Studies, University of Montana, February, 200. “Wild West Shows and Images”, p. 131, 140.
  90. ^ “Wild West Shows and Images”, p.131, 140.
  91. ^ Financial difficulties, however, led the Bureau of Indian Affairs to withdraw its sponsorship and left the ethnological Indian Villages exhibit under the directorship of Frederick W. Putnam of Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Robert A. Trennert, Jr., "Selling Indian Education at World's Fairs and Expositions, 1893–1904), American Indian Quarterly, (1987).
  92. ^ L. G. Moses, "Indians on the Midway: Wild West Shows and the Indian Bureau at World's Fairs, 1893–1904", South Dakota Historical Society, (1991), pp. 210–215.
  93. ^ Parezo and Fowler, p.6. “Wild West Shows and Images”, p.137-138.
  94. ^ Indians performing included Oglala Lakotas from Pine Ridge Reservation with Cummins’s Wild West Show and Brulé Lakotas from Rosebud Reservation with the Deportment of Anthropology. Parezo and Fowler, p.131.
  95. ^ Parezo and Fowler, p.134.
  96. ^ Parezo and Fowler, p. 135-136. 354, 459. J. McGee portrayed contrasting images of Native Americans and was critical of BIA programs destroying Native cultures and turning Indians into “counterfeit Caucasians.”
  97. ^ Parezo and Fowler, p. 156.
  98. ^ A week or so before the inauguration, six famous chiefs from formerly hostile tribes, arrived in Carlisle to head the school’s contingent in the parade. But, before they left for Washington, there was much to do. First, they spoke to an assembly of students through interpreters. A dress rehearsal was held on the main street of Carlisle to practice for the parade. The "Carlisle Herald" predicted that the group would be one of the big parade’s star attractions. Those marching in the parade were woken at 3:45 a.m., had breakfast at 4:30, and were the special train to Washington at 5:30. As the train rolled out of Carlisle, a heavy snow fell, but later the sun burned through, making for a fine day weather-wise. Fortunately, the travelers had lunch on the train because it was late in arriving in Washington. They were hurried into the last division of the Military Grand Division. Originally, they were to have been in the Civic Grand Division, but Gen. Chaffee transferred all cadets under arms to the military division, putting them in a separate brigade. Tom Benjey, “Carlisle Indian School”, 1905 Inaugural Parade, (2009) at
  99. ^ Robert M. Utely, “Geronimo” p.257, 2012; The Carlisle Band led by Claude M. Stauffer and cadets led by Captain William M. Mercer, superintendent of the school and member of the 7th Cavalry. Tom Benjey, “Carlisle Indian School”, 1905 Inaugural Parade, (2009). Witmer 26
  100. ^ Oskate Wicasa is a colloquialism meaning "one who performs." Its usage began in the early days of the Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West Shows. Alida S. Boorn, “Oskate Wicasa (One Who Performs)” (hereinafter “Oskate Wicasa”), Department of History, Central Missouri State University, (2005), p.1. The phrase "Show Indians" likely originated among newspaper reporters and editorial writers as early as 1891. By 1893 the term appears frequently in Bureau of Indian Affairs correspondence. Some believe that the term is derogatory describing the "phenomenon of Native exploitation and romanticization in the U.S." Arguments of a similar nature were made by the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the popularity of Wild West shows in the United States and Europe. “Indians on the Midway”, p. 219
  101. ^ a b Oskate Wicasa 131
  102. ^ Oskate Wicasa 6
  103. ^ Witmer xv; Oskate Wicasa 101-103
  104. ^ Oskate Wicasa 8
  105. ^ Oskate Wicasa 101-103
  106. ^ Pratt, p. xi-xxv. Luther Standing Bear, p.xx.
  107. ^ Jenkins. p.216-217.
  108. ^ Pratt xxv; Luther Standing Bear xx
  109. ^ Witmer xiv
  110. ^ Oskate Wicasa 118
  111. ^ Eastman, p.206.
  112. ^ The Wild West show notes of interest About the Exhibition and Buffalo Bill’s Visitors”, Philadelphia Inquirer, August 21, 1888.
  113. ^ Luther Standing Bear 189
  114. ^ See David Wallace Adams, “Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928”, (1995) and Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, “Zitkala-Sa: American Indian Stories, Legends and Other Writings”, (2003). The policy of forbidding students to speak in their native tongue “Kill the Indian in him, and save the man,” provided the philosophical foundation of his program.
  115. ^ Agonito 241
  116. ^ Luther Standing Bear, p.xx.
  117. ^ “My People the Sioux”, p. xviii.
  118. ^ Agonito, p.247.
  119. ^ Phillip A. Greasily, “Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, Volume 1: The Authors, (2001), p.472.
  120. ^ Witmer 16
  121. ^ Witmer, p.59, 89. Jenkins, p.299.
  122. ^ Witmer, p.89. Jenkins, p. 292.
  123. ^ Witmer 90
  124. ^ Witmer 89
  125. ^ Benjey ii
  126. ^
  127. ^ See Linda F. Witmer, the Carlisle Indian School Resource Center, Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Barbara Landis, "Carlisle Indian Industrial School (1879-1918)", Stephanie Anderson, "On Sacred Ground: Commemorating Survival and Loss at the Carlisle Indian School", Central PA Magazine, May 2000.
  128. ^ ICTMN Staff (December 2, 2010). : A Documentary on Boarding School Survivors"Unseen Tears". Indian Country Today Media Network. 
  129. ^ Douglas, Ronald James, M.F.A., State University of New York at Buffalo (2010). "Documenting ethnic cleansing in North America: Creating unseen tears (AAT 1482210)". 
  130. ^


See also

  • Band and Battalion of the U.S. Indian School is a silent film documentary made on April 30, 1901 by American Mutoscope and Biograph Company made in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.. The cinematographer Arthur Marvin depicts a parade drill by the cadet corps of the American Indian School which includes many representatives of the Native American tribes in the United States.
  • Carlisle Indian Industrial School was depicted in the 1951 movie classic Jim Thorpe – All-American, a biographical feature film produced by Warner Bros. and directed by Michael Curtiz, honoring Jim Thorpe. The film starred Burt Lancaster as Thorpe and featured some archival footage of both the 1912 and 1932 Summer Olympics, as well as other footage of the real Thorpe (seen in long shots). Charles Bickford played the famed football coach - Glenn Scobey ("Pop") Warner, who was Thorpe's longtime mentor. Bickford also narrated the film, which told of Thorpe's athletic rise and fall, ending on an upbeat note when he was asked by a group of boys to coach them. Phyllis Thaxter portrayed Thorpe's first wife. Warner Bros. used a number of contract players in the film, as well as a few Native American actors.
  • Part of the 2005 mini-series on cable TV's Turner Network Television, Into the West, takes place at the school.
  • The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary In the White Man's Image (1992) tells the story of Richard Pratt and the founding of the Carlisle School. It was directed by Christine Lesiak, and part of the American history documentary series The American Experience, also produced by PBS.
  • The "Dear America" Series young adult fictional diary, My Heart Is on the Ground by Ann Rinaldi (1999), tells the story of Nannie Little Rose, a Sioux girl sent to the school in 1880.
  • Numerous additional works address the stories of former residents of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and other Native American boarding schools in Western New York and Canadian Indian residential school system, such as Thomas Indian School, Mohawk Institute Residential School (also known as Mohawk Manual Labour School and Mush Hole Indian Residential School) in Brantford, Southern Ontario, and Haudenosaunee boarding school; the impact of those and similar schools on their communities; and community efforts to overcome those impacts. Examples include: the film "Unseen Tears: A Documentary on Boarding School Survivors",[128] Ronald James Douglas' graduate thesis titled Documenting ethnic cleansing in North America: Creating Unseen Tears,[129] and the Legacy of Hope Foundation's online media collection: "Where are the Children? Healing the Legacy of the Residential Schools".[130]

In media

The Carlisle Indian Industrial School is remembered and honored by the people of the Memorial Day to commemorate the unique Carlisle Indian School, the students and their stories.[127]

Carlisle Indian School Resource Center

Jim Thorpe Sports Day is the biggest annual extra-curricular event at the U.S. Army War College. Began in 1974, the competition in ten sports is among the military's senior service schools, the Army, Navy and Air Force academies.[125] The sports are played at Carlisle Barracks' historic Indian Field, where Jim Thorpe once displayed the teamwork, discipline and physical fitness that inspires the name of the athletic games at Carlisle.[126]

U.S. Army War College—Jim Thorpe Sports Day

The U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC), in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is the U.S. Army's primary historical research facility. With its oldest part established in 1967, and later reorganized in 1999 and reorganized again in 2013, the center consists of the U.S. Army Military History Institute (U.S.A.M.H.I.) (of 1967), the Army Heritage Museum (A.H.M.), the Digital Archives Division, the Historical Services Division, the Research and Education Services, and the U.S.A.H.E.C. Staff. The U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center is part of the United States Army War College, but has its own 56-acre (230,000 m2) campus in Middlesex Township nearby the Carlisle Barracks.

U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center

Contemporary institutions

Beginning in the early 1900s, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School began to diminish in relevance. With growth of more localized private and government reservation schools in the West, children no longer needed to travel to a distant Eastern school in Pennsylvania.[121] Successive superintendents at Carlisle Indian School after Pratt: Captain William A. Mercer (1904-1908), Moses Friedman (1908-1914), Oscar Lipps (1914-1917) and John Francis, Jr. (1917–1918), were besieged by faculty debate and pressures from the Indian Commission and the U.S. Army. Around 1913, rumors circulated at Carlisle that there was a movement to close the school. In 1914, a Congressional investigation focused on management at the School and the out-sized role played by athletics (no doubt spurred by the heroic accomplishments of Thorpe). Pop Warner, Superintendent Moses Friedman and Bandmaster C.M. Stauffer were dismissed. After the hearings, attendance dwindled and morale declined. The reason for Carlisle’s existence had passed.[122] When the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, there was an additional reduction of enrollment. Many Carlisle I.I.S. alumni and students served in the U.S. military during World War I. On the morning of September 1, 1918, a transfer ceremony took place. The American flag was lowered for the last time at the Carlisle Indian School and presented to Major A.C. Backmeyer, who raised it again over the new U.S. Army Base Hospital Number 31, a pioneering new type of rehabilitation hospital to treat soldiers wounded in World War I.[123] Remaining students were sent home or to other off-reservation boarding schools in the United States.[124] In the spring of 1951, the U.S. Army War College, founded 1901, senior educational institution of the U.S. Army, relocated to the old Carlisle Barracks. In 1961, the complex was later designated a National Historic Landmark (NHL).

Carlisle's latter years

Exposure to "white men’s diseases", especially tuberculosis, was a major health problem on the reservation as well as the East. During the years of operation, hundreds of children died at Carlisle. Most died from infectious diseases common in the early 20th Century that killed many children. More than 180 students were buried in the Carlisle Indian School Cemetery. The bodies of most who died were sent to their families. Children who died of tuberculosis were buried at the school, as people were worried about contagion.[120]

Deaths from infectious diseases

In 1905, Standing Bear decided to leave the reservation. He was no longer willing to endure existence under the control of an overseer.[117] Luther sold his land allotment and bought a house in Sioux City, Iowa, where he worked as a clerk in a wholesale firm.[118] After a brief job doing rodeo performances with Miller Brothers 101 Ranch in Oklahoma (former old Indian Territory), he moved to California to seek full-time employment in the motion picture industry.[119] While Standing Bear left the confinement of the reservation, he continued his responsibilities as an Oglala Lakota chief, fighting to preserve Lakota heritage and sovereignty through public education.

Luther Standing Bear got a mixed reception at home on the reservation. Some were proud of his achievements while others did not like that he had "become a white man." [115] He was happy to be home, and some of his relatives said that he “looked like a white boy dressed in eastern clothes.” Luther was proud to be compared to a white boy, but some would not shake his hand. Some returning Carlisle students had become ashamed of their culture, while some tried to pretend that they did not speak Lakota. The difficulties of returning Carlisle I.I.S. students disturbed white educators. Returning Carlisle students found themselves between two cultures, not accepted by either. Some rejected their educational experiences and “returned to the blanket,” casting off "white ways"; others found it more convenient and satisfying to remain in white society. Most adjusted to both worlds.[116]

Back on the reservation

During the first few weeks at Carlisle, when the Lakota and Dakota greatly outnumbered all other tribes, it was discovered that Cheyennes and Kiowas were learning to speak Lakota and Dakota. After that, English was the only language permitted on the campus. Dormitory rooms held three or four each, and no two students from the same tribe were permitted to room together. The plan helped in the rapid acquirement of English, and although some were hereditary foes, Pratt believed the Indian students to be less inclined to quarrel than most white children.[111] However, there were consequences. In 1879, Chief Blue Horse's son Baldwin Blue Horse, age 12, was in the first group of Oglala Lakota students to arrive at Carlisle. In 1888, Chief Blue Horse met with Baldwin at a performance of Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and spoke through an interpreter.[112] Later Luther Standing Bear was called to the superintendent’s office and asked him if it was a good idea to get some Indian boys from the reservation and put them in school with white boys, expecting that the Indian boys would learn faster by such an association. Luther agreed that it might be a good plan, so a permit was received from Washington. Sixty boys from Pine Ridge were mixed with 60 European-American boys. Teachers had hoped the Indians would learn the English language faster by this arrangement. "But lo and behold, the white boys began learning the Sioux language." The program was discontinued.[113] Some Native Americans are angry about painful Indian boarding school experiences and Pratt’s Progressive Reformist views on assimilation have been condemned.[114]

Carlisle was created with the explicit goal of assimilating Native Americans into mainstream European-American culture.[109] "The goal of acculturation was to be accomplished by “total immersion” in the white man’s world."[8] Pratt founded Carlisle to immerse Native American children in mainstream culture and teach them English, new skills, and customs. Pratt's slogan was "to civilize the Indian, get him into civilization. To keep him civilized, let him stay." Pratt’s approach was harsh but an alternative to the commonly-held goal of extermination of Native Americans. A positive outcome of a Carlisle education was the student's increased multilingualism.[110]

Before and after "contrast" photos were sent to officials in Washington, to potential charitable donors and to other reservations to recruit new students. Pratt's powerful photographs showing his quick results helped persuade Washington that he was doing vital work. "Chiricahua Apaches Four Months After Arriving at Carlisle", Carlisle, Pennsylvania, undated.

Assimilation efforts at Carlisle

Pratt conflicted with government officials over his outspoken views on the need for Native Americans to assimilate. In 1904, Pratt denounced the Indian Bureau and the reservation system as a hindrance to the civilization and assimilation of Native Americans ("American Indians"). "Better, far better for the Indians," he said, "had there never been a Bureau." As a result of the controversy, Pratt was forced to retire as superintendent of Carlisle after 24 years and was placed on the retired list as a brigadier general in the United States Army.[106] In retirement, Pratt and his wife Anna Laura traveled widely, often visiting former students and lecturing and still writing on Indian issues.[107] Pratt continued to advocate for Native American rights until his death at the age of 83 on March 15, 1924, at the old Letterman Army Hospital in the Presidio of San Francisco, at San Francisco, California. Pratt's modest granite memorial stone in Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. says "Erected In Loving Memory by his Students and Other Indians."[108]

Pratt's retirement

Closing and legacy

Frank C. Goings, the recruiting agent for "Buffalo Bill" Cody and other "Wild West" shows at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, was a Carlisle "Wild Wester" with experience as a performer, interpreter and chaperon.[103] Goings carefully chose the famous chiefs, the best dancers, the best singers, and the best riders; screened for performers willing to be away from home for extended periods of time and coordinated travel, room and board.[104] He traveled with his wife and children, and for many years toured Europe and the United States with "Buffalo Bill's Wild West", Miller Brothers 101 Ranch and the Sells Floto Circus.[105]

The Carlisle Indian School and "Wild Westing" were portals to education, opportunity and hope, and came at a time when the Lakota people were depressed, impoverished, harassed and confined. Wild Westers from Pine Ridge enrolled their children at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School from its beginning in 1879 until its closure in 1918. Known as "Show Indians,", Oglala Wild Westers referred to themselves as Oskate Wicasa or "Show Man", a title of great honor and respect.[100] Many Carlisle students, mostly Lakota, had parents, family and friends who were Wild Westers. Ben American Horse and Samuel American Horse, sons of Oglala Lakota Chief American from the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, attended Carlisle and went "Wild Westing" with their father.[101] Often entire families worked together, and the tradition of the "Wild Wester" community is not unlike the tradition of circus families and communities.[102] Carlisle Wild Westers were attracted by the adventure, pay and opportunity and were hired as performers, chaperons, interpreters and recruiters.[101]

Luther Standing Bear (Oglala Lakota), Pratt's model student, was attracted to "Wild Westing" for the adventure, pay, and opportunity. Standing Bear is notable as a 20th-century Native American author, educator, philosopher and actor.
Samuel American Horse was a "Carlisle Wild Wester". Since 1887, "Wild Westing" has been family tradition with many Pine Ridge families. Gertrude Käsebier, c. 1900

Carlisle "Wild Westers"

Theodore Roosevelt sat in the presidential box with his wife, daughter and other distinguished guests, and watched Battle of Little Bighorn, march down Pennsylvania Avenue. When the contingent of "Wild Westers" and the "Carlisle Cadets" and Band came into view, President Roosevelt vigorously waived his hat and all in the President’s box rose to their feet to behold the powerful imagery of the six famous Native American Chiefs on horseback adorned with face paint and elaborate feather headdresses, followed by the 46-piece Carlisle Indian Industrial School Band and a brigade of 350 "Carlisle Cadets" at arms. Leading the group was "Geronimo", of the Apache, in his regalia including war paint, sitting astride his horse, also in war paint, in the center of the street. It was reported that: "The Chiefs created a sensation, eclipsing the intended symbolism of a formation of 350 uniformed Carlisle students led by a marching band,” and “all eyes were on the six chiefs, the cadets received passing mention in the newspapers and nobody bothered to photograph them.”[99]

On March 4, 1905, Wild Westers and Carlisle portrayed contrasting images of Native Americans at the First Inaugural Parade of 26th President Theodore Roosevelt. Six famous Native American Chiefs, Geronimo (Chiricahua Apache), Quanah Parker (Comanche), Buckskin Charlie (Ute), American Horse (Oglala Lakota), Hollow Horn Bear (Sicangu Lakota) and Little Plume (Blackfeet), met in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for dress rehearsal on the main street to practice for the parade in Washington.[98]

First Inaugural Parade of 26th President Theodore Roosevelt, March 4, 1905. President Roosevelt vigorously waived his hat and all in the President’s box rose to their feet to behold the powerful imagery of the six famous Native American chiefs on horseback adorned with face paint and elaborate feather headdresses, followed by the 46-piece Carlisle Indian School Band and a brigade of 350 Carlisle Cadets at arms.

The Inaugural Parade of President Theodore Roosevelt, 1905

[97]” which included Native dances and war whoops by band members.Aboriginal Suite performed a mixture of classical, popular music and Dennison Wheelock’s “Haskell Indian Band The Carlisle Indian Band performed at the Pennsylvania state pavilion, and the [96] On one side of the school, “blanket Indians”, men or women who refused to relinquish their native dress and customs, demonstrated their artistry inside the school on one side of the hall. On the other side, Indian boarding school students displayed their achievements in reading, writing, music, dancing, trades and arts.[95].Bureau of Indian Affairs A Congress of Indian Educators was convened and Oglala Lakota Chief Red Cloud and Chief Blue Horse, both eighty-three years old, and the best-known Native America orators at the St. Louis World's Fair, spoke to audiences. A model Indian School was placed on top on a hill so Indians below could see their future as portrayed by the [94] In style, Buffalo Bill established a fourteen-acre swath of land near the main entrance of the fair for "Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World" where he erected stands around an arena large enough to seat 18,000 spectators. Seventy-four "Wild Westers" from

In 1893, the fight for the image of the Native American began when Reformist Progressives pressured organizers to deny William F. ("Buffalo Bill") Cody a place at the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, Illinois.[90] Instead, a feature of the Exposition was a model Indian school and an ethnological Indian village supported by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.[91]

During the Progressive Era, from the late 19th Century until the onset of World War I, Native American performers were major draws and money-makers. Millions of visitors at world fairs, exhibitions and parades throughout the United States and Europe observed Native Americans portrayed as the vanishing race, exotic peoples and objects of modern comparative anthropology.[89] Reformists Progressives fought a war of words and images against popular Wild West shows at world fairs, expositions and parades.

In 1904, the Carlisle Indian Band performed during the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis at the Pennsylvania state pavilion, while the Haskell Indian Band performed a mixture of classical, popular music and Dennison Wheelock’s “Aboriginal Suite” which included Native dances and war whoops by band members.
In 1893, over two million patrons saw Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show perform during the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. During the Progressive Era, from the late 19th Century until the onset of World War I, Native American performers were major draws and money-makers.

World fairs and expositions

Native Americans in mainstream culture at the time

The Carlisle Indian School was a well-spring for the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. Founding members included Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Dr. Charles Eastman, Angel De Cora, Zitkala-Ša and Chauncey Yellow Robe. The Society of American Indians printed a quarterly literary journal, American Indian Magazine. Dr. Montezuma joined Pratt at the Carlisle Indian School as a resident physician from 1895-1897. Montezuma a correspondent with Pratt since 1887, was drawn to the noble experiment at Carlisle. The physician Charles Eastman and his wife, Elaine Goodale Eastman, and children, resided at Carlisle in 1899, and were frequent visitors and lecturers.[88]

Dr. Charles Eastman was a frequent visitor and lecturer at Carlisle. 1897
Dr. Carlos Montezuma was drawn to the noble experiment at Carlisle, and served as resident physician from 1895-1897.

Society of American Indians

At Carlisle, Pratt developed a photographic record of the model school for publicity and documentation. The institution and the school were photographed during the school’s existence by approximately a dozen professional photographers. The photographs evidenced that the school successfully acclimated Indians to the white man’s culture.[84] The first and best known photographer of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School was John Nicolas Choate.[85] ”After replacing Indian dress with military uniforms and cutting their hair in Anglo fashion, the Indians’ physical appearance was transformed." Before and after “contrast” photos were sent to officials in Washington, charitable donors and to reservations to recruit new students.[35] "Pratt's powerful photographs showing his quick results helped persuade Washington that he was doing vital work.[86]

During this period, U.S. Government policy focused upon acquiring Indian lands, restricting cultural and religious practices and sending Native American children to boarding schools. Progressives agreed that the situation was serious and that something needed to be done to educate and acculturate Native Americans to white society, but they differed as to education models and speed of assimilation. Reformist progressives, a coalition led by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Native American educators and Christian organizations, promoted rapid assimilation of children through off-reservation Indian boarding schools and immersion in white culture.[83]

[82] During the Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, there was an explosion of public interest in Native American culture and imagery. Newspapers, dime-store novels, Wild West shows and public exhibitions portrayed Native Americans as a “Vanishing Race.” American and European anthropologists, historians, linguists, journalists, photographers, portraitists and early movie-makers believed time was of the essence to study western Native American peoples. Many researchers and artists lived on government reservations for extended periods to study Native Americans before they “vanished.” Their inspired effort heralded the “Golden Age of the Wild West.” Photographers included

From 1886 to the onset of World War I, Progressive Reformists fought a war of images with Wild West shows before the American public at world fairs, expositions and parades.[79] Pratt and other reformist progressives led an unsuccessful campaign to discourage Native Americans from joining Wild West shows. Reformist Progressives vigorously opposed to theatrical portrayals of Native Americans in popular Wild West shows and believed Wild West shows portrayed Native Americans as savages and vulgar stereotypes. Reformist progressives also believed Wild West shows exploited and demoralized Native Americans. Other Progressives, such as “Buffalo Bill” Cody, who as Pratt believed Indians equals as whites, had a different approach. He allowed Indians to be Indians. New ideas were not to be thrust forcefully upon Native peoples. Cody believed Native Americans would observe modern life and different cultures, acquire new skills and customs, and change at their own pace and terms. Both Pratt and Cody offered paths of opportunity and hope during time when people believed Native Americans were a vanishing race whose only hope for survival was rapid cultural transformation.[80] Notwithstanding his criticisms, Pratt invited his old friend Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West show to perform in Carlisle on June 24, 1898. The school paper "Red Man" reported that students were "privileged to witness the best exhibition of some rude manners and customs of the people of the western frontier in the fifties and sixties."[81]

Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West show performed in Carlisle on June 24, 1898.
"Twenty five Indians from the Carlisle Indian College, Pennsylvania, are learning to build ships in the greatest shipyard in the world at Hog Island, Philadelphia", 1918

Progressive Era fight for the image of Native Americans

Political context

In 1908, De Cora married a Carlisle student Lone Star Dietz. At the age of 23, Dietz enrolled at Carlisle where he studied art in Philadelphia in the Summer Outing Program. After his marriage to De Cora he continued in the roles of student and assistant art teacher. In 1909, the school launched a monthly literary magazine known as the "Indian Craftsman", later changed to "The Red Man". Designed by the school's art department, printed and in part written by students, the magazine gained a wide reputation for the quality of its appearance and content. Lone Star created cover designs for almost all of the 50 issues of the magazine between 1909 and 1914. During their time at Carlisle, Angel and Lone Star Dietz brought cultural awareness to students through innovative teaching programs.[78]

In 1906, Leupp appointed Native American artist Angel De Cora, trained at Hampton Institute, Virginia and Smith College, Massachusetts, to be instructor of the first Native arts course at the Carlisle. De Cora agreed to accept the position at Carlisle only if she "shall not be expected to teach in the white man's way, but shall be given complete liberty to develop the art of my own race and to apply this, as far as possible, to various forms of art, industries and crafts."[74] The project was ambitious, and in 1907 students constructed the Leupp Indian Art Studio.The studio was strategically positioned to the entrance to the campus and designed as an exhibition hall and artist studio. Materials were purchased by using profits from the prior Carlisle Indians football season. Public demand for Native American arts was growing, and proceeds from sales were used to raise funds for individuals on reservations and to cultivate public interest in Indian crafts. Students enjoyed Plains art and drawing traditional pictographs on paper and slates.[75] The studio showcases paintings, drawings, leather work, beadwork, jewelry, and basketry made by students, and some produced on reservations. The floor was covered with colorful Navajo blankets.[76] As head of the Leupp Art Studio from 1906 to 1915, De Cora emphasized design, and encouraged students to apply tribally-specific designs to marketable modern art media such as book plates, textiles, and wallpaper. Carlisle boasted a state-of-the-arts photography studio for students.[77]

Francis E. Leupp, [73]

Native American arts program

From 1897 to 1899, Zitkala-Ša played violin with the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. In 1899, she took a position at the Carlisle Indian School where she taught music to the children and conducted debates on the treatment of Native Americans. In 1900, Zitkala-Ša played violin at the Paris Exposition with the school's Carlisle Indian Band. In the same year, she began writing articles on Native American life which were published in such popular periodicals as Atlantic Monthly and Harper's Monthly. Also in 1900, Zitkala-Ša was sent by Captain Pratt back to the Yankton Reservation for the first time in several years to recruit students. She was greatly dismayed to find there that her mother's house in disrepair, her brother's family in poverty, and that white settlers were beginning to occupy the land promised to the Yankton Dakota by the Dawes Act of 1877.[70] Upon returning to Carlisle, she came into conflict with Pratt. She resented the rigid program of assimilation and argued that the curriculum did not encourage Native American children to aspire to anything beyond lives spent in menial labor.[71] In 1901 Zitkala-Ša was dismissed, likely for an article she had published in Harper's Monthly describing the profound loss of identity felt by a Native American boy after being given an assimilationist education at Carlisle. Concerned with her mother's advanced age and her family's struggles with poverty, she returned to the Yankton Reservation in 1901. Zitkala-Ša dedicated her life to Indian reform, voting rights and education.

The Carlisle Indian Band earned an international reputation under a talented Oneida musician, Dennison Wheelock, who became noted as its leader, composer and compiler of modified Native airs.[68] Many students studied classical musical instruments. The Carlisle Indian Band performed at world fairs, expositions and every at national presidential inaugural celebration until the school closed. Luther Standing Bear was a bugler for military calls and educated as a classical musician. On May 24, 1883, Luther Standing Bear led the Carlisle Indian band of brass instruments as the first band to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on its grand opening.[69]

The Carlisle Indian Band

Many Carlisle Indians, such Frank Mount Pleasant, Gus Welch, Francis M. Cayou, Joe Guyon, Pete Calac, Bemus Pierce, Hawley Pierce, Frank Hudson, William Jennings Gardner, Martin Wheelock, Jimmy Johnson, Isaac Seneca, Artie Miller, Bill Newashe, Woodchuck Welmas, Ted St. Germaine, Bill Winneshiek, and Albert Exendine became professional athletes, coaches, educators, and community leaders.

On November 9, 1912, Carlisle was to meet the U.S. Military Academy in a game at West Point, New York, between two of the top teams in the country. Pop Warner spoke to his team: “Your fathers and your grandfathers,” Warner began, “are the ones who fought their fathers. These men playing against you today are soldiers. They are the Long Knives. You are Indians. Tonight, we will know if you are warriors.” That dramatic evening Carlisle routed Army 27-6. That game, played just 22 years after the last Army battle with the Lakota/Sioux at the Wounded Knee, not only featured Jim Thorpe, but nine future generals including a linebacker named Dwight D. Eisenhower.[66] "It was an exquisitely apt piece of national theater: a contest between Indians and soldiers."[67]

In 1911, the Indians posted an 11–1 record, which included one of the greatest upsets in college football history. Legendary athlete Jim Thorpe and coach Pop Warner led the Carlisle Indians to an 18–15 upset of Harvard before 25,000 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Thorpe scored all the points for Carlisle, a touchdown, extra point and four field goals.[64] During the program's 25 years, the Carlisle Indians compiled a 167–88–13 record and winning percentage (.647) which makes it the most successful defunct major college football program. The Carlisle Indians developed a rivalry with Harvard and loved to sarcastically mimic the Harvard accent. Even players who could barely speak English would drawl the broad Harvard "a" as in the Boston accent is non-rhotic, typically pronounced "pahk the cah in Hahvad Yahd". Carlisle students labeled any excellent performance, whether on the field or in the classroom, as "Harvard style".[65]

During the early 20th century, the Carlisle Indian School was a national football powerhouse, and regularly competed against other major programs such as the Ivy League schools Harvard, Pennsylvania, Cornell, Dartmouth, Yale, Princeton, Brown, and Army (West Point) and Navy (Annapolis). Coach Pop Warner led a highly successful football team and athletic program at the Carlisle School, and went on to create other successful collegiate programs. He coached the exceptional athlete Jim Thorpe and his teammates, bringing national recognition to the small school. By 1907, the Carlisle Indians were the most dynamic team in college football. They had pioneered the forward pass, the overhand spiral and other trick plays that frustrated their opponents. The Carlisle Indians have been characterized as the “team that invented football.”[63]

The "Carlisle Indians" (sports teams)

[62] At the end of his internship, the entire Carlisle school students and faculty traveled to a large meeting hall in Philadelphia where Pratt and Wanamaker spoke. Luther was asked to come to the stage, and Wanamaker told the students that Luther had been promoted from one department to another every month getting better work and better money and in spite of the fact that he employed over one thousand people, he never promoted anyone as rapidly as Luther.[61] While riding on street cars in Philadelphia, Luther did not care to listen to the vulgar language used by white boys on the way to work.[60] In 1883, Luther Standing Bear was sent to Philadelphia to work as an intern for

Wanamaker Store, Philadelphia. John Wanamaker told the assembled Carlisle School that he employed as many as one thousand people in his establishment and never promoted anyone as rapidly as Luther Standing Bear. Later, as United States Postmaster General, Wanamaker established a Post Office in Kyle, South Dakota at Luther's request.

Student internships

The Outing Program continued throughout the Carlisle's history, and of the thousands who attended Carlisle for the first twenty-four years, a least half participated in the program.[54] Around 1909, Superintendent Friedman expanded the Outing Program by placing boys in manufacturing corporations such as Ford Motor Company.[58] Over sixty of the boys from Carlisle were subsequently hired and worked steadily for Ford.[59] During the later part of World War I, about forty had good jobs in the Hog Island, Philadelphia, shipyards.[59]

Maggie Stands Looking, a daughter of Oglala Lakota Chief American Horse, was among the first wave of children brought from Rosebud and one of Captain Pratt’s model students. Maggie had difficulty adjusting to the demands of her new lifestyle at Carlisle, and once slapped Miss Hyde, the matron, when Hyde insisted that Maggie make her bed every day and keep her room clean. Instead of retaliating, Miss Hyde stood her ground and Maggie acquiesced. Like most of the Carlisle students, Maggie was enrolled in the Summer Outing Program. After her arrival to her country home, Maggie wrote a letter to Pratt. "Dear Captain Pratt: What shall I do? I have been here two weeks and I have not bathed. These folks have no bath place. Your school daughter, Maggie Stands Looking." Pratt advised her to do as he had done on the frontier and signed his letter "Your friend and school father. R.H. Pratt." Maggie replied, "After filling a wash basin with water and rubbing myself well, have had a bath that made me feel as good as jumping into a river."[57]

Students were required to write home at least every month, and as often as they chose. Nearly all the students lovingly inquired after absent brothers and sisters, and many sent money home, ten or twenty dollars of their own earnings.[56]

The Carlisle Summer Outing Program arranged for students to work in homes as domestic servants or in farms or businesses during the summer. The program won praise from reformers and administrators alike and helped increase the public’s faith that Indians could be educated and assimilated. The program gave students opportunities to interact and live in the white world and found jobs for students during the summer months with middle-class farm families where they earned their first wages.[53] Many students worked in the homes and farms of Quaker families in eastern Pennsylvania and surrounding states.[54] Some were sent to farms in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country of Dauphin, Lancaster, and Lebanon counties and acquired what would be a lifelong Pennsylvania Dutch accent.[55]

Carlisle Summer Outing Program

A summer camp was established in the mountains at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, near a place called Tagg’s Run. Students lived in tents and picked berries, hunted and fished.[51] Luther Standing Bear recalled: “In 1881, after the school closed for the summer vacation, some of the boys and girls were placed out in farmers’ homes to work throughout the summer. Those who remained at school were sent to the mountains for a vacation trip. I was among the number. When we reached our camping place, we pitched out tents like soldiers all in a row. Captain Pratt brought along a lot of feathers and some sinew, and we made bows and arrows. Many white people came to visit the Indian camp, and seeing us shooting with the bow and arrow, they would put nickels and dimes in a slot of wood and set them up for us to shoot at. If we knocked the money from the stick, it was ours. We enjoyed this sport very much, as it brought a real home thrill to us.”[52]

Carlisle curricula included subjects such as English, math, history, drawing and composition. Students also learned trade and work skills such as farming and manufacturing. Older students used their skills to help build new classrooms and dormitories. Carlisle students produced a variety of weekly and monthly newspapers and other publications that were considered part of their "industrial training," or preparing for work in the larger economy. Marianne Moore was a teacher at Carlisle before she became one of America's leading poets.Music was a part of the program, and many students studied classical instruments. The Carlisle Indian Band earned an international reputation. Native American teachers eventually joined the faculty, such as Ho-Chunk artist Angel DeCora, taught students about Native American art and heritage and fought harsh assimilation methods. Students were instructed in Christianity and expected to attend a local church, but had their choice among those in town. Carlisle students were required to attend a daily service and two services on Sundays. Students were expected to participate in various extracurricular activities. In addition to the YMCA and King Daughter Circle, the girls could choose between the Mercer Literary Society and the Susan Longstreth Society. The boys had a choice of the Standard Literary Society or the Invincible Debating Society.[51]

Curricula and extra-curricula programs

In addition to academic contact, the two institutes had contact in the public venue as well. The best known instances include the regular defeats of Dickinson College by the Carlisle Indian School football team and other athletic competitions.[50]

Luther Standing Bear recalled that one day an astronomer came to Carlisle and gave a talk. “The astronomer explained that there would be an eclipse of the moon the following Wednesday night at twelve o’clock. We did not believe it. When the moon eclipsed, we readily believed our teacher about geography and astronomy.”[49]

Prof. Charles Francis Himes was a professor of natural science at Dickinson College for three decades and instrumental in expanding the science curriculum. Professor Hines took an interest in the Carlisle Indian School and his notable lectures on electricity (“Why Does It Burn”), "Lightning" and "Gunpowder" received a favorable reaction from parents and students. Himes lectured to Chiefs Red Cloud, Roman Nose and Yellow Tail, and brought Indian students to the Dickinson laboratory to give lectures. Himes also promoted Carlisle’s success in national academic circles.[48]

In 1889, Dr. George Edward Reed assumed the position of President of Dickinson College and continued the close relationship between the Indian School and Dickinson College through Pratt’s departure in 1904. Reed told an audience at the Indian School that “we who live in Carlisle, who come in constant contact with the Indian School, and who know of its work, have occasion to be agreeably surprised with the advance we are able to see." In June 1911, Reed addressed the one hundred and twenty-eighth commencement of Dickinson College, where he presented an Honorary Degree of Master of Arts to Pratt’s successor, Superintendent Moses Friedman, for his work at the Carlisle Indian School. [47]

Carlisle was also home to Dickinson College, less than two miles from the Carlisle Indian School, America's 16th oldest college.[42] Dickinson College and the Carlisle Indian School collaboration began when Dr. James Andrew McCauley, President of Dickinson College, led the first worship service at the Indian School in 1879. It was Mrs. Pratt who had initiated the contact between the Indian School and Dickinson. Upon Pratt’s absence one Sunday, Mrs. Pratt wrote to President McCauley and requested his aid as a minister which he graciously accepted. The relationship did not stop there with Richard Pratt noting that, “from that time forward Dr. McCauley became an advisor and most valued friend to the school.".[43] The collaborative effort between Dickinson College and the Carlisle Indian School lasted almost four decades, from the opening day to the closing of the school. Dr. McCauley helped Pratt to develop a Board of Trustees and a Board of Visitors composed of different heads of leading national educational institutions and wealthy donors. Dickinson College professors served as chaplains and special faculty to the Indian School,[44] and college students volunteered services, observed teaching methods and participated in events.[45] Dickinson College also provided Carlisle Indian School students with access to the Dickinson Preparatory School ("Conway Hall") and college level education.[46] Thomas Marshall was one of the first Native American students at Dickinson. Carlisle is also home to the Dickinson School of Law, (1834) - now part of The Pennsylvania State University, and in the early 1900s a few Carlisle Indian School graduates attended the law school: Albert A. Exendine, Ernst Robitaille, Hastings M. Robertson, Victor M. Kelley and William J. Gardner.

Prof. Charles Francis Himes of Dickinson College lectured on natural science at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. c.1900
Dickinson College provided Carlisle Indian Industrial School students with access to preparatory and college level education, and Dickinson professors served as chaplains and special faculty to the Indian School.
The collaborative effort between Dickinson College and Carlisle Indian School lasted almost four decades, from the opening day to the closing of the school. Old West, Dickinson College, 1810

Dickinson College

In 1880, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was a thriving town as a borough and county seat of Cumberland County, west of the Susquehanna River, with a population of 6,209 people. The shoe factory in town employed over 800 residents. There were two railroads, three banks and ten hotels in Carlisle by the time Pratt established his school. By the late 19th Century, there were 1,117 "colored residents" in Carlisle. Carlisle boasted a low unemployment rate and a high literacy rate at the time of the census. It was considered a good location, as it was not in a big city. It was not so far West that the students would be able to run away back to their families. The historic Carlisle Barracks (established 1757, later near sites of the U.S. Army War College, [1901], and U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, [1967]) were vacant and available for use. The military site was less than two miles from an already well established educational institution, Dickinson College (founded 1773, chartered 1783). When the first Indian School students arrived in Carlisle on October 6, 1879, they were in tribal dress. "For the people of Carlisle it was a gala day and a great crowd gathered around the railroad. The older Indian boys sang songs aloud in order to keep their spirits up and remain courageous, even though they were frightened."[39] "For years, it was a common event for the people of Carlisle to greet the Carlisle Indian football victors on their homecoming. Led by the Indian School Band, the Carlisle Indians paraded in their nightshirts down the streets of Carlisle and on to the school on the edge of town."[40] Residents of Carlisle stood on their doorsteps and cheered as the Carlisle Band led a snake dance from one end of town to the other.[41]

The people of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, signed a petition signed in favor of the proposed school

Carlisle, Pennsylvania


Between 1899 and 1904, Carlisle issued thirty to forty-five degrees as year. In 1905, a survey of 296 Carlisle graduates showed that 124 had entered government service, and 47 were employed off the reservations.[37] Anniversary and other school events were magnets for persons of distinction. Senators, Indian commissioners, secretaries of the Interior, college presidents and noted clergymen were accustomed to present the diplomas or address the graduating class upon these occasions. The gymnasium held 3,000 persons and was generally filled with an audience of townspeople and distinguished visitors showing their support for aspiring Carlisle students.[38]

The minimum age for students was fourteen, and all students were required to be at least one-fourth Indian. The Carlisle term was five years, and the consent forms which the parents signed before the agent so stated. Pratt refused to return pupils earlier unless they were ill, unsuitable mentally or a menace to others.[36]

Pratt was so successful in his correspondence and methods that many Western chiefs suffering from cold and hunger on their reservations, begged him to bring more children East. The chiefs also wrote to Washington with a request to educate more of their children.[33] News of the educational experiment spread rapidly and many came to Carlisle to volunteer services and professional talents.[33] Pratt developed a photographic record of the school for publicity and documentation. The institution and the school were photographed during the school’s existence by approximately a dozen professional photographers. The first and best known photographer of the Carlisle Indian School was John Nicolas Choate.[34] ”After replacing Indian dress with military uniforms and cutting their hair in Anglo fashion, the Indians’ physical appearance was transformed. Pratt, in an effort to convince doubters of his beliefs, hired photographers to present this evidence. Before and after “contrast” photos were sent to officials in Washington, friends of the new school, and back to reservations to recruit new students.[35]

Between 1899 and 1904, Carlisle issued thirty to forty-five degrees a year. "Educating the Indian Race. Graduating Class of Carlisle, PA." ca. 1890s

Model U.S. Indian Boarding School

Oglala Lakota Chief American Horse was one of the earliest advocates of education for Native Americans. While recruiting at Pine Ridge Reservation, Captain Pratt met strong opposition from Red Cloud, who distrusted white education, and had no school-age children. American Horse “took a lively interest” in what he had to say. He was a tribal leader and head of a large household with at least ten children. He was a sophisticated man and believed that his children would have to deal with whites, and perhaps live with them, whether they liked it or not. He decided to send two sons and a daughter for the first class at Carlisle.[32]

American Horse at Carlisle, 1882, with his daughter Maggie Stands Looking with other Indian students and teachers. Maggie Stands Looking was one of Captain Pratt’s model students.

American Horse

Consent to send students to Carlisle was often gained with concessions, such as the promise to allow tribal leaders inspect the school soon after it opened. The first group of inspectors, some 40 Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota chiefs representing nine Missouri River agencies, visited Carlisle in June 1880. Others tribal leaders followed. Before tribal delegations returned home, they usually spent a few days in Washington where they received the plaudits of government officials for allowing their children to participate in the Carlisle experiment.[31]

Luther Standing Bear left the Pine Ridge Reservation to attend Carlisle. His father celebrated his son's brave act by inviting his friends to a gathering and gave away seven horses and all the goods in his dry goods store.[29] Luther became a school recruiter for Captain Pratt and periodically visited reservations. He demonstrated what the students had learned and persuaded parents to send their children to Carlisle by his appearance, language and skills; however, many children died from infectious diseases in boarding schools and parents were fearful to let them go. Moreover, many parents were treated unfairly and had not been notified until after the children died and were buried. Unscrupulous Indian agents failed to mail letters from Carlisle to the parents, until the parents came into the agency for something. While many parents were proud of Luther, they were afraid to send their children away fearing they would never see them again.[30]

John Nicolas Choate was the first and best known photographer of the Carlisle Indian School, and created a photographic record of the model school for documentation and publicity. "Noted Indian Chiefs who have visited the Indian Training School, Carlisle, Pa.", John Nicolas Choate. Carlisle, c. 1881

In 1879, Oglala Lakota Chiefs Blue Horse, American Horse and Red Shirt enrolled their children in the first class at Carlisle Indian Industrial School. They wanted their children to learn English, trade skills, and Euro-American customs. "Those first Sioux children who came to Carlisle could not have been happy there. But it was their only chance for a future."[28] Pratt persuaded tribal elders and chiefs that the reason the "Washichu" (Derogatory Lakota word for white man, loosely translates to Land Taker) had been able to take their land was because the Indians were uneducated. He believed that the Natives were disadvantaged by being unable to speak and write English and that if they had the knowledge, they may have been able to protect themselves.

"Spotted Tail, you are a remarkable man. [...] You are such an able man that you are the principal chief of these thousands of your people. But Spotted Tail, you cannot read or write. You claim that the government has tricked your people and placed the lines of your reservation a long way inside of where it was agreed that they should be. [...] You signed that paper, knowing only what the interpreter told you it said. If anything happened when the paper was being made up that changed its order, if you had been educated and could read and write, you could have known about it and refused to put your name on it. Do you intend to let your children remain in the same condition of ignorance in which you have lived, which will compel them always to meet the whiter man at a great disadvantage through an interpreter, as you have to do? [...] As your friend, Spotted Tail, I urge you to send your children with me to this Carlisle School and I will do everything I can to advance them in intelligence and industry in order that they may come back and help you."[27]

In November 1878, Pratt was ordered by the War Department to report to the Secretary of the Interior for Indian educational duty and then proceed to U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment in the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Pratt protested that he was not familiar with the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota, and they were in a hostile attitude toward the US Government. But the War Department was insistent that Pratt go to Red Cloud (Oglala) and Spotted Tail (Sicangu), important chiefs, because some military strategists believed their children would be hostages for the good behavior of their people.[26] Pratt’s speech to Spotted Tail convinced him to send his children to Carlisle.

As a condition to enrollment of their children, Pratt promised to allow tribal leaders inspect the school soon after it opened. The first group of inspectors, some 40 Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota chiefs representing nine Missouri River agencies, visited Carlisle in June, 1880. Chief Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota, at Carlisle, June 1880
Luther Standing Bear (Oglala Lakota) at Carlisle Indian School, c. 1879

Student recruitment

Children who could not adjust at Carlisle eventually returned to their families and homes. Some ran away because of being homesick and unhappy. Several years after a student ran away, the young man approached Pratt in the lobby of a New York hotel. He explained that he had found himself a good job, was working hard and saved some money. "Hurrah!" the Captain exclaimed. "I wish all my boys would run away!"[24]


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