(by Student #2 AMH2010 11:15)
Throughout my life I have always been curious about Native American Culture. They were the first humans to settle in America but seem to get little to no credit for it. When we start learning about America’s history it always starts in Europe, and when we do talk about the Natives it revolves around Thanksgiving and the expansion wars out west. I was never told about the Carlisle school growing up, and so researching it seemed like a fun topic. What I ended up finding out was shocking to say the least. The “Carlisle School” was not really a school, but rather a propaganda reform camp for Native Americans.
My first order of research was to get an idea of what I am looking for. My first Hypothesis for native and caucasian names being with one another was that whites would have relationships with the natives. It made sense to me considering some of the the households would have a white name such as “Dan Tucker” married to “Grass Women.” So I would look up each name of the Census and document to see the race of these names. I was pretty surprised when a name such as Dan tucker would come back as Cherokee Indian on the census form. I then tried to find more documentation, but what I would find would usually be the same sheet I received on my first day of the investigation. I figured I might broaden my search by adjusting the sliders, and soon figured out that these names were not their actual names. Many of these names were changed after they had left the school and one of the most documented cases I could find on this would pertain to “Driving Behind.” He was married to “Caroline Welborn” according to the document I have received. It wasn’t until I had found a court document for their inheritance that their real names had surfaced. They were noted as Thomas Knocking Face and Mrs Thomas Knocking Face in pratensis on the document. This is just the first steps into what I found out about what this school did.
I had to do some research into why they would change their names. It was revealed to me that the Carlisle school was intended to remove all Native American culture from these men and women. It’s founder Christian Richard H. Pratt was the former commander of Fort Marion prison in Florida which served as an Indian prison. One of the their most famous quotes to come out of this school was “kill the indian save the man.” The children were taken off of their respective reservations at a very young age. They were forbidden to speak their languages wear their traditional clothing and live with their families in the summertime. The natives who attended this school were assigned caucasian families to live with during their breaks and were bored at the school with no visits allowed from their families. (Waker) This was a government facilitated kidnapping of these Indian children. Not only this, but also over a hundred people died in the School due to disease that ran rampant through it.
Throughout the records I researched on the school it came back that 168 people had died in the school. The most common diseases listed where “Tuberculosis of the Bladder,” “hemorrhage,” and “fever.” Can you imagine you kid being taken away from you and to
die without any of his family there to help him. Even as late as today they have had battles to return the bodies back to their respective tribes. Even as late as 2015 the Army has had the task of unearthing bodies from the school and returning them to their respective families. (Gammage) All the public was hearing at the time was that we were getting rid of the Indians “savage” nature. When in reality it was the Indians reacting to our aggressive advances and killing. Not only did the school re-culture, and have diseases run throughout the school, but also different tribes as well.
I thought this was interesting, because throughout my findings about my venus forum. The majority of them were Cherokee and Arapahoe, but “Fire” and his wife “Bucket” were Sioux. I thought that the Carlisle school would pick only peaceful tribes, and was shocked when a Sioux popped up especially when we were at war with the Sioux during the time this census form was taken. . I was able to find this out, because Fire and Bucket were one the very few natives to assimilate. When I did find out more about Fire and Bucket due to the extra documentation I was surprised to say the least. Not only did Fire become a Sioux leader once he left the school, but also his parents were killed in the battle of wounded knee. I highly doubt he even knew this being how young he would have been when he was taken for the school.
The Indian Censuses never provided what tribe each person they were from, because to Americans back then Indian was the only tribe. Only if they did asimlate did their actual tribes get represented under race from the National census form rather than the Indian census form. When I was tracing the people who did assimilate i ended up finding out the Ella Lee did have a Husband during the time the census was taken place as well as two other children. His name was Daniel Black Horse and he was actually drafted for service in World War II. I found this interesting because there was a Black Horse infantry division who fought on horseback. Since he was a Cherokee Indian he was already deemed fit for horse mounted service at the age of 55. However, there are no records of his battle participation or if he even made it through the war. I’m guessing since there is no death certificate he could have been M.I.A. with no real answer on what happened to him. I’m sure there were many Indians who served in the mounted service, because many of the mounted services have Indian names and patches. Unfortunately, the fate of these services was very brief due to the mechanization of warfare during WWII and many of these divisions were some of the quickest killed in World War II.
Throughout the learning of these documents I learned how badly we treated the Indians. The Natives were being occupied by the U.S. and forced to learn their culture. They were stripped from their families, and made to fit into the ideal “American Indian.” Where they would go to school and work for American business. The school was cancelled due to the very low numbers of Indians actually choosing to adopt the European culture, and you can’t blame them. They never tried to adapt them to U.S. life, but rather force them like a circle fitting into a square. I really enjoyed learning about some of these stories from the census sheet and how some of them even served for the U.S. in World War II.
Official Report of the Nineteenth Annual Conference of Charities and Correction (1892), 46–59. Reprinted in Richard H. Pratt, “The Advantages of Mingling Indians with Whites,” Americanizing the American Indians: Writings by the “Friends of the Indian” 1880–1900(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1973), 260–271.
Gammage, Kindle https://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/1497 (2018) “The Carlisle School” BBC Published; 2007