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Pupils at the Carlisle Indian School

Pupils at Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Pennsylvania, circa 1900
Wikimedia Commons

At various points during the past three centuries, Native Americans from across what is now the United States were taken from their homes, sometimes forcibly, to be educated at Indian boarding schools like the one at Carlisle, Pa. They were expected to give up their Native beliefs, languages, and religions and assimilate themselves into white American culture. Children were taught reading and writing and instructed in other daily-life skills with the expectation that they would bring this knowledge back to their families and tribal groups and “assimilate” them as well.

The Carlisle Indian Industrial School was established in 1879 by Richard Pratt. Some of the first students were children taken from the Texas–Indian Wars. Four children of Comanche chief Quanah Parker were educated there. The school taught reading and math, as well as job skills for boys, such as woodworking and tinsmithing, and domestic skills for girls, such as sewing and cooking. The school even had a football team that traveled to play against other schools. Students were not allowed to speak in their native tongues or wear any of their own clothing. The school ran in military fashion, with drills, ranks, and strict discipline.

For more images from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, see the Teaching Strategy.