Historical Marker for the Carlisle Indian School.
The text of this marker was the collaborative effort of a group of friends and relatives of Carlisle Indian School students - space for text was limited to about 50 words - and the state revised the final approval of the wording of the plaque. We celebrated with a dedication and unveiling of the marker Sunday, August 31st 2003 followed by a picnic at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, a place where Indian kids from the school had their summer camps.  We are so grateful to everyone who helped us in this - especially Suzanne Reynolds, Pete Collins, Keith Bailey and Cathy Wert who took dozens of photographs.  Here is the final marker text approved by the State:


This school was the model for a nation-wide system of boarding schools intended to 
assimilate American Indians into 
mainstream culture. Over 10,000 indigenous children attended the school between 
1879 and 1918. Despite idealistic beginnings, 
the school left a mixed and lasting legacy, creating opportunity for some students 
and conflicted identities for others. 
In this cemetery are 186 graves of students 
who died while at Carlisle.



In the summer of 2001 during a walking tour for the Udall interns at the old Carlisle School grounds, as I launched into my "from this vantage point" presentation, I was interrupted by a young Penobscot woman. She wondered where the evidence was that the grounds had been a place where thousands of children spent a good deal of their formative years, far from home, in a strange place, many of them never returning to their families.  As we looked out across the manicured lawns spanning the whitewashed buildings, it became clear that there really is nothing to identify the Carlisle school grounds as a place where over 10,000 Indian children lived.
There is a marker tucked away in front of the community center (originally the Printing Offices) identifying the buildings as belonging to the National Register of Historic Places.  There's a monument to Richard Henry Pratt, over in the corner by the athletic dorm, across from the great beech tree.  There are discreet plaques attached to some of the buildings - including one on the old teacher's quarters, mistakenly identifying the building as the girls' dormitory, which in truth, no longer stands.  This mistake accounts for some troubling folklore centering around a ghost story essentially reducing a child's experience
 at the school to that of a trivialized, mischievous, friendly ghost-mascot.  But that's a different story.....and one that also needs attention.

Through these web pages, a group of researchers and relatives of CIIS students applied for matching marker funds through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. We got their approval, and with the endorsements of the American Indian Society and Cleveland Center for Indians enlisted the Viola White Water Foundation to sponsor the project. The Foundation generously agreed to sponsor this important historic marker. We gathered contributions, which the state of Pennsylvania matched - cost to us was $750, collected from a group of thirty + individual donors and one foundation.  Any additional monies collected went toward a ceremonial marker dedication at the site.  A series of planning messages were posted in preparation for a meaningful dedication set for Labor Day Weekend of 2003.

If you're interested in making donations to the Viola White Water Foundation, please email me.

Barbara Landis

Carlisle Indian Industrial School