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A Reformer Praises the Carlisle School

Richard Pratt, an officer of the United States Cavalry, became obsessed with the assimilation of Indians into U.S. "civilization." Pratt believed that Indians could only survive if they adapted the values of the white man; it was necessary to "kill the Indian and save the man," he said. Pratt founded the Carlisle School in Pennsylvania, where students were forced to abandon their native languages and customs. Pupils learned industrial skills for the U.S. market economy. Some government and military leaders questioned the effectiveness of Indian schools. Here, an admirer of Pratt defends Carlisle.  

Anyone who has seen a group of Apache children as they arrived at Carlisle with all the characteristics of the savage, not only in their dress and manner, but visibility stamped upon their features in hard lines of craft, ferocity, suspicion and sullen obduracy [stubborness], and has also seen a year later the same children neatly dressed, with their frank intelligent faces, not noticeably unlike in expression those of wholesome and happy boys and girls of our own race, must be convinced that education under suitable conditions is the true solution of the Indian problem, and that if all Indian children could be placed under the same influences as the few hundred at Carlisle, that problem would disappear within ten years.

Source | J. Evarts Greene, "Our Dealings with the Indians," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, Vol. XI, 1896; quoted in American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, "The Iron Horse vs. the Buffalo: Indian-Settler Conflict on the Great Plains: 1869-90," (Teacher's Handbook).
Creator | J. Evarts Greene
Item Type | Article/Essay
Cite This document | J. Evarts Greene, “A Reformer Praises the Carlisle School,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed May 24, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1545.

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