Carlisle Indian School

E edge of Carlisle on U.S. 11, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. County/parish: Cumberland.

NRIS 66000658

20 contributing buildings.

Added to the National Register of Historic Places October 15, 1966.

Also known as:

  • Carlisle Indian Industrial School

From Wikipedia:

Carlisle Indian Industrial School

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. All the school's property, known as the Carlisle Barracks, is now part of the U.S. Army War College.

Founded in 1879 under U. S. governmental authority by General Richard Henry Pratt (then a Captain), Carlisle was the first federally-funded off-reservation Indian boarding school. Consistent with Pratt's belief that Native Americans were 'equal' to European-Americans, the School strove to immerse its students into mainstream Euro-American culture, believing they might thus become able to advance themselves and thrive in the dominant society.

In this period, many white Americans believed that the only hope for Native Americans, their population declining in number, was rapid assimilation into White culture.

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, in a renovated military barracks.

As at Hampton, arriving students were shorn of their long hair, and even their 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". At Carlisle, Pratt attempted to "Kill the Indian: Save the Man" through any means necessary. Beyond a typical military regimen, Pratt was known to use corporal punishment on students who exhibited Native behaviors to help students become dependent only on themselves.

Carlisle became the model for 26 Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding schools in 15 states and territories, plus 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; however, according to one source, only 158 students graduated. Tribes with the largest number of students included the Lakota, Ojibwe, Seneca, Oneida, Cherokee, Apache, Cheyenne, and Alaska Native. The Carlisle Indian School exemplified Progressive Era values. Some Native Americans believed Carlisle provided an excellent education.

Carlisle and similar schools remain deeply controversial; many Native Americans say they forced children to leave their families at young ages, giving up their indigenous cultures, languages, religious and spiritual beliefs, and even their names, thus doing untold psychological damage to generations of Native people.

Since the 1970s, Native American nations have founded their own schools and colleges, thus regaining control of their children's education.

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  • Unknown

Architectural styles:

  • Colonial Revival

Significant persons associated with this site:

  • Thorpe, Jim, et al.

National Park Service documentation: