Historical Marker Nomination Form
(Please type or print. Before completing, see Guidelines for Approval on page 5.)

1. State name of person, event, or site to be commemorated.

The Carlisle Indian Industrial School, 1879-1918

2. Please use the space below to provide a historical overview and specify fully the historical significance of the person, event, or site. Be sure to explain why this marker will have meaning for people from the whole state or country, not just from your own community. Be concise. Do not exceed the space provided.

 The Indian Industrial School at Carlisle PA was founded October 6, 1879 with the arrival of the first Native American Indian children from the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Sioux Agencies.  Educating Indians was intended to "solve the Indian Problem" through assimilation - very well and frequently expressed sentiment of the policymakers and reformers. The experiment expanded from those first 78 recruits to over 10,700 students before the school was closed in 1918.  These children came from over 145 American Indian nations.

The brainstorm of Richard Henry Pratt, former Cavalry officer who had worked with Buffalo Soldiers and Indian scouts during the Indian Wars, Carlisle became the first off-reservation boarding school exclusively for Indian children.  Pratt's mission is often described as "Kill the Indian, Save the Man" as he likened his assimilationist policies to the analogy of Christian baptism.  "In Indian civilization I am a Baptist, because I believe in immersing  the Indians in our civilization and when we get them under holding them there until they are thoroughly soaked."

After a decade, over two dozen schools appeared throughout the Plains and western states, some of which are still in existence today. In the late 1970's, the U.S. Senate investigated the state of Indian education in the United States, declaring Indian educational policy to be a dismal failure.  It laid responsibility for this failure directly at the feet of Carlisle.  Although a few graduates did emulate the lessons learned at the school, many returned to their home communities bearing the deep scars of a conflicted identity.  Because of the broad scope of the experiment, most Native American Indian people today had relatives who attended the Carlisle Indian School, or one of the dozens of off-reservation boarding schools modeled after Carlisle.

The school was the most nationally significant occurrence in US Educational Policy towards American Indians. It spawned the formation of the first pan-Indian Indian movement, the Society of American Indians. The 1906 Native Arts and Crafts program brought national attention to Winnebago artist, Angel DeCora, as well as to the school. The acclaimed football teams during its athletic heyday made heroes of many Indian athletes whose names are now among Sports Hall of Famers.

3.  Please provide a draft of the text you would like to see on this marker. (Note: a final text must be approved by PHMC staff.)

Founded in 1879 as the first of 24 U.S. off-reservation boarding schools to represent a new federal assmilationist policy, Carlisle had enrolled 10,000+ Native American students by its closing in 1918. 186 are buried at Indian Cemetery. The alumni organization spawned the first pan-Indian movement. Among its most famous alumni were legendary athletes, Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox) and Lewis Tewanima (Hopi) and teacher, Zitkala Sa (Yankton Sioux).


4.  Do you envision a city type or a roadside type marker?

                              Roadside marker

5.  Bibliographical data: from what publications can further information be secured to understand the historical background, to evaluate historical significance, and to prepare a proper marker inscription?
Author:  Adams, David Wallace
Title:   Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience 1875-1928.
Date & Publisher: 1995. University Press of Kansas.

If there is an additional published source you wish to reference, list it below.

Author: Hertzberg, Hazel.
Title: The Search for an American Indian Identity: Modern Pan-Indian Movements
Date & Publisher: 1971. Syracuse University.

If the source of further information is an individual person,
please furnish his or her name and address.
Phone number:

If you wish to provide additional sources of information, feel free to attach a list, utilizing the above format for referencing them. feel free as well to attach copies of essential published or unpublished source material if such material is not normally available in libraries or other collections. This material should support the overview you have written above; it should not serve as a substitute for the overview.

6.  Describe the suggested marker site. Are there any surviving features, built or topographical, that relate to the proposed commemoration? If possible, please attach a photograph. (While survival of such features is not a determining factor in the approval of markers, a suggested marker should be close enough to the site described to take advantage of any features that do survive. It should also be located so as to maximize accessibility to the public.)

The marker should be placed on the north side of Claremont Road 50 feet before the entrance to the Carlisle Barracks along the wrought iron fence of the Carlisle Indian Cemetery.  See photo at cemetery.jpg.
The actual school grounds are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, however, they are located inside the Carlisle Barracks and are not visible from any public road, hence our suggestion that this marker be placed by the Indian Cemetery site.

7. Provide information on suggested marker site:
County: Cumberland
Street address or intersection (if town or city location): Claremont Road (state road), near Delaney Road Entrance to US Army War College.
City:  Carlisle
Highway route (if in a rural location):
Nearest town & distance in miles:
If not a highway, identify closest highway route and give approximate distance from it:
If the marker is suggested for placement inside a park, specify exact location within the park:

8. Please provide information on yourself as preparer of this form:
Name: Telephone: ()
Fax Number: ( }
E-mail address:
Organization (if any) and your title:
Mailing address:
City: State: Zip:
Your signature: Date:
Legislative District of Historical Marker Location:
House: Senate:

Return completed form and any additional supporting material to
Historical Marker Program
Division of History
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Commonwealth Keystone Building, Plaza Level
400 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0053

If you have any questions in completing this form, please contact us at (717) 787-3034. Persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired who wish to contact a hearing person via Text Telephone may use the PA Relay Center at 1-800-654-5984.

Carlisle Indian School Research Pages:
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