"YANKTON, DAKOTA TERRITORY, April 5, 1880.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Why do you ask for moccasins? I sent you there to be like a white girl, and wear shoes."
|Group of Indian men before education|
"MY FRIEND, - I never saw you, but I have a strong attachment for you. I already wrote you two letters, as you know, but today I have thought of you again.
"I had two boys big enough to help me to work, but you have them now. I wanted them to learn your language, and I want you to look after them as if they were your boys.
"This is all, my friend.
is my name, and I shake your hand."
There are many, no doubt, who will smile at the title of this article, much as if it had read, "Education for Buffaloes and Wild Turkeys." Such, however, will be likely to read it, as others will from a more sympathetic standpoint. For it is evident that, from one standpoint or another, public interest is excited upon the Indian question now as perhaps never before.
With the opening up of the country, and the disappearance of the game before the settler's axe and locomotive whistle - to say nothing of treaty "reconstruction" and Indian wars - the conditions of the Indian himself have radically altered, and perhaps not in all respects for the worse, since the shrewd Saponi sachem declined William and Mary's classical course for his young braves, because it would not improve them in deer-stalking or scalp-lifting, but, not to be outdone in graciousness, offered instead to bring up the Royal Commissioners' sons in his own wigwam, and "make men of them."
Fat Mandan, on the contrary, seems to think that to make men of them is just what Hampton will do for the boys he is so proud of, and he looks to them to help him to work, not to hunt. It is possible that red and white theories of education and manhood have healthily approximated in fifty or a hundred years.
|Same group of Indian men after education|
To a young colonel of the Union army in the late war, as he stood on the wheelhouse of a transport, with his black regiment camping down on the deck below him, floating down the Gulf of Mexico through the double glory of sunset sky and wave, there came, like a vision shaped half from dreamy memories of his island home in the Pacific, and half from earnest thought for his country's future, a plan for a practical solution of one of her troubles, and the salvation of the race that was its innocent and long-suffering cause. Four years later the dream which had faded in the stern realities of war was called into life by the exigencies of the new era, and took tangible form as a normal and agricultural school for freedmen at Hampton, Virginia, twenty miles from the port where slaves first landed in America, and on the very shores where they were first made free as "contraband of war."
The growth of this institution under the charge of its originator was described seven years ago in this Magazine, since which time it has attracted the attention of leading thinkers upon education and race problems in this and other countries, and become widely known as an exponent of the value of manual-labor training in education of men and women - certainly as far as the black race is concerned. Twelve years have proved its mission in the South to be no "fool's errand."
As the Hampton school was founded on the theory that "the gospel of work and self-help" is essential to all human development, and therefore as good for negroes as for Sandwich-Islanders, why should it not try the same for the Indian?
Visitors to St. Augustine from '75 to 78 remember as one of the chief attractions of that ancient city the Indian prisoners at Fort Marion, held there by the United States government for their conspicuous part in a revolt of their tribes - Kiowas, Comanches, Cheyennes, and Arrapahoes in Indian Territory Many brought away from the old fort not only polished sea-beans, bows and arrows, and specimens of primitive painting, but a few new ideas on the Indian question, and a surprised sense of some strange transformation going on in savage natures under the forces of kindness and wisdom.
What this transformation was, and what were its subjects, no words can so well set forth as do two photographs which lie before me as I write; one taken of the prisoners on their arrival at Fort Marion in chains, ignorant of the fate before them, defiant, desperate, plotting mutiny and suicide; the other, a group of the same men, three years later, received into an Eastern school to continue the education begun at St. Augustine.
It was fortunate not only for these poor prisoners, it may be, but for the whole Indian question, that the officer under whose charge they were put, and who had assisted in their capture, Captain R. H. Pratt, of the Tenth Cavalry, U.S.A., was a man with room in his nature for the- united strength and humanity which are at the bottom of this work, whose results have placed him at the head of the• most important single movement ever made in behalf of Indian education.
|Group of Indian girls before education|
Delicate womanly hands of both North and South, enlisted by the captain's earnestness, freely joined to help his work when the dark minds were roused to some curiosity as to the mystery of the gay-colored alphabet he had hung on their prison wall. And when, at the end of three years, the United States decided to send the prisoners home, some would not let go their work. The War Department's permission was secured for as many of the prisoners to remain as were willing to go to school, and could be provided for by private benevolence. Twenty-two of the youngest thus staid, and of these seventeen were received at Hampton Institute, on request of Captain Pratt, for the sake of its industrial training.
It was not, therefore, in utter dismay that the inmates of Hampton were roused from their slumbers one April night by a steamboat's war-whoop, heralding the midnight raid of sixty ex-warriors upon their peaceful shores, and hastened out to meet the invaders with hot coffee instead of rifle-balls, to welcome some of them as new students, and bid the rest god-speed to their homes in Indian Territory.
The bearing of the new effort upon the whole question of Indian management was early recognized at Washington. By special act of Congress authorizing the Secretary of War to detail an army officer for special duty with regard to Indian education, Captain Pratt's valuable assistance was secured in inaugurating the work at Hampton. The Indian Commissioner, the Secretaries of War and the Interior, and the President were among the most interested visitors to the Indian class-rooms and workshops, and have given the enterprise all the sympathy and encouragement in their power. The result of their inspection was the decision of government to take an active part in the effort it had sanctioned.
Six months after the St. Augustines were received, there was therefore a second Indian raid on Hampton Institute, consisting of forty-nine young Dakotas, chiefly Sioux, with a few Mandans, Rees, and Gros Ventres, for each of whom the United States stood pledged to appropriate $167, reduced subsequently to $150, yearly, while it should keep them at the school. This appropriation is the extent of United States aid to Hampton, which is not, as some have supposed, a government school, but a private corporation, supported chiefly by Northern benevolence. The school agreed on its part to supply the deficiency of the government appropriation, amounting to from $60 to $70 a year, on an average, for each of the Indian students who are on its hands for the whole year round, and to put up the needed buildings, which it has done, at a cost thus far of $14,000. Nine of the sixty-dollar scholarships are given by the American Missionary Association of New York, and the rest have been made up by friends, of different sects and sections.
|A classroom at Carlisle|
The school consented to undertake this large addition to the new mission which had come unsought to its hands, on condition that half of the fifty to be brought should be girls. Indian views of woman's sphere interfered with this condition for the time, however. As Captain Pratt says: "The girls, from six years of age up to marriage, are expected to help their mothers in the work. They are too valuable in the capacity of drudge during the years they should be at school to be spared to go. Another equally important obstacle is the fact that the girls constitute a part of the material wealth of the family, and bring, in open market, after arriving at marriageable age, a certain price in horses or other valuable property. The parents fully realize that education will elevate their girls away from this property consideration." The captain, who collected the party, was able, therefore, to bring only nine girls and forty boys, of ages ranging from nine to nineteen years, with one exception of a mother, who could not trust so far away the pretty little girl she wished to save from a life like her own.
The new arrival was a new departure in Hampton's Indian work. The wild looking set in motley mixture of Indian and citizens' dress, apparently trying to hide away altogether under their blankets, or shawls, or streaming unkempt locks, made a contrast with the soldierly St. Augustines, evidently obvious enough to the latter, whose faces betrayed some civilized disgust, as well as tribal prejudice, as they looked on in the glory of their fresh school uniforms. It was not long, however, before they were exchanging greetings in the expressive sign-language that all could understand.
A Cheyenne, Sioux, and Ree - representatives of tribes which have often been at war with each other - made up a group for statuesque pose and significant contrasts fit subject for sculptor or poet, as Comes Flying and White Wolf stood wrapped in their blankets, watching, half compliant, half suspicious, the grave and speaking gestures with which Little Chief freely offered what he had so freely received.
The St. Augustines generally did good service in showing the road to the new recruits. The hospitality of the colored students, somewhat overtaxed by the in road of nearly double the number of boys expected, before their new quarters were ready for them, revived with the changes wrought by soap and water, and won full victory when, on taking possession of their new "wigwam" a month later, the Dakotas made a spontaneous petition, through their interpreter, for colored room-mates to "help talk English." The volunteers who generously undertook the mission became quite fond of "their boys," and emulous of each other in bringing them forward in such minor arts of civilization as the proper use of beds and hair-brushes.
|Indian cooking class at Hampton|
Thus helped by willing hands, red, white, and black, and joined from time to time by companions, from their own and other tribes, till they now number over seventy, the Indian students have been two years on the new road, and Hampton now has contrasts to show as convincing, if not as dramatic, as those of St. Augustine. It is difficult, indeed, to associate the gaunt young gamins that sat about in listless heaps two years ago with the bright, busy groups of boys and girls at study or play, or singing over their work.
The effort has been for a natural, all-round growth rather than a rapid one. Books, of course, are for a long time of no avail, and object-teaching, pictures, and blackboards take their place, with every other device that ingenuity is equal to, often on the spur of the moment, to keep up the interest and attention of the undisciplined minds that, with the best intentions and strong desire to know English, have small patience for preliminary steps. A peripatetic class was thus devised to relieve the tedium of the school-room, and had, to speak literally and figuratively, quite a run. It usually began with leap-frog, and then went gayly on to find its "books in the running brooks, sermons in stones," etc. Geography is taught with molding sand and iron raised dissecting maps; arithmetic at first with blocks. The Indians are particularly fond of each, and the advanced class is quite expert in adding up columns of figures as long as a ledger page, and equal to practical problems of every-day trade and simple business accounts.
Nothing, however, can equal the charm of the printed page. It has the old mystery of "the paper that talks." "If I cannot read when I go home," said a young brave, "my people will laugh at me." The gratitude of the St. Augustines over their first text-book in geography was touching. Reading, writing, and spelling are taught together by the word method and charts. Later, attractive little primaries have been very useful, and unbound numbers of children's magazines, such as are used in the Quincy schools. Most of the Dakotas can now read at sight as simple English as is found in these, and are beginning to take pleasure in reading or in listening to easy versions of our childhood classics of Robinson Crusoe, and Christopher Columbus, and George Washington with his little hatchet. One of their teachers who tried the hatchet story on them in preparation for the 22d of February says: "Such attentive listeners I never saw before. They were perfectly enraptured. They understood everything, even to the moral. A few days after this I was annoyed by talking in the class. When I asked who did it, every one blamed his neighbor. I said, 'Now, boys, don't tell a lie. Who will be a George Washington?” Two boys at once stood up and said, ‘We did it.’"
Another teacher was less successful with her moral, in trying to explain a hymn they had learned to recite:
"Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;
Each victory will help you some other to win."
The next day one of the girls came to her, exclaiming, triumphantly, "I victory! I victory! Louisa Bullhead get mad with me. She big temptation. I fight her. I victory!"
|Group of educated Indian girls|
One can but sympathize with another who was "victory" in a different sort of encounter. A party of excursionists landed on the Normal School grounds in the summer, and hunting up some of the Indian students, surrounded them, and with more regard for their own amusement than for wasting courtesy on "savages," plied them with such questions as, "What is your name? Are you wild? Can you speak English? Do you live in a house at home?" till even Indian patience was exhausted, and one girl turned upon her inquisitors. When they began, "Are you wild?" she replied, with a look that perhaps confirmed her words, "Yes, very wild; are you wild?" "Can you speak English?" "No, I cannot speak a word of English."
They understand much of what is said before them, and are sensitive to allusions to their former condition. Three of the little girls at work in their flower garden, as a visitor passed, came running to their teacher with the indignant complaint," That gentleman said, 'Poor little things! We are not very poor little things, are we?"
Talking naturally comes slower than reading or understanding, but improves with the confidence gained in daily association with English-speaking companions and the drill of the class-room. They are beginning to think in English, for they speak it sometimes to each other, and the little girls are often heard talking English to their dollies, considering them white babies, perhaps, or having less fear of their criticism. Phonic exercises are found useful. One evening a week is given to English games, and one to singing, under the instruction of one of the former band of "Hampton Student" singers. He has succeeded in the difficult task of transcribing several of their own wild love songs, words and notes, and in teaching them to sing simple exercises by note in time and tune, though their first efforts were about as harmonious as a Chinese orchestra. They have picked up many of the hymns and plantation melodies sung by their comrades, and are as fond of singing over their work. Monthly records of each one's standing in study, work, and conduct are sent home to their agencies, and on the back of each card a little English letter from each who is able to frame a few sentences of his own. These cards have had a great effect upon the parents, to whom they are shown by the interpreters, and are a strong incentive to the children.
The mornings only are given to study, and the afternoons to industrial training and exercise, with Saturday as a holiday. The school farm of two hundred acres, and the “Shellbanks" farm of three hundred and thirty, the latter given chiefly in the Indians' interest by a lady friend in Boston, afford abundant opportunity for training both races in farming and the care of stock. Both have ample room also in the large brick workshops erected and fitted up by the generosity of Mr. C. P. Huntington, of New York. A sixty horse-power Corliss engine, given by Mr. G. H. Corliss, supplies the power to these shops, and to a saw-mill, where all the lumber used on the place is sawed. All the bricks used are also made on the place. Some of the Indians work in the saw-mill and engine-room. Besides the farmers, the division of labor for the boys thus far includes blacksmiths, carpenters, wheelwrights, tinsmiths, engineers, shoemakers, harness-makers, tailors, and printers. They are also employed as waiters and janitors. Special effort is made to have each of the agencies from which they come represented by as many different trades as possible. They like to work about as well as most boys, are slow, and need watching, but show a special taste and aptness for mechanics. At present most of the shoes worn by the Indian boys are made entirely by Indian hands. Trunks, chairs, and tables, tin pails, cups, and dust-pans are turned out by the dozens, and most of the repairing needed on the place is done in the various shops. The carpenters, under direction of a builder, have put up a two-story carriage-house twenty-four by fifty feet, weather-boarded and shingled. A Cheyenne (St. Augustine) and a Sioux are each proud of a fine blue farm cart made entirely by their own hands. All the shops report improvement. Their instructor in farming, a practical Northern farmer, says: "They don't like to turn out early in the morning, but otherwise do as well as any class of workmen, and seldom now have to be spoken to for any slackness. It is common to see five or six in a hoeing race, with the end of a beet or corn row for the goal."
|Little Indian boys at Carlisle|
A natural, and therefore valuable, stimulus to their energies, and doing much to make men of them, has been the payment of wages. Part of the government appropriation is given to them in this form instead of in clothing. They are expected to buy their own clothing out of it, except their school uniform. There is some waste, but more profit, in the lessons thus taught of the relation of labor to capital.
The military organization of the school, thus far under the charge of Captain Henry Romeyn, Fifth Infantry, U.S.A., has been an important aid in their discipline, and general setting up of body and spirit. Sergeant Bear's Heart and Corporal Yellow Bird are as proud of their command, and as careful to maintain the honor of their stripes, as any West-Pointer; and the fleet-footed little "markers" would doubtless fight for their colors, if they would not die for them. Yellow Bird is janitor of the wigwam, and the present teacher in charge reports, "A cleaner school building I never saw." Saturday is general cleaning day. Only the outside of the platter was civilized at first, but the effect of clean halls was soon apparent. They wanted a clean house all through, and the boys went voluntarily down on their knees and scrubbed their own rooms.
During the summer vacation, from the middle of June to the first of October, the boys who remain at the school alternate farm-work with camp life at "Shellbanks," sleeping in tents, living outdoors, cooking for themselves, fishing, hunting, and rowing. For two summers a selected number - this year seventeen boys and eight girls - have been scattered among the farmers of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, working for their board, sharing the home life, and improving in health, English, and general tone. They have won a good report from the families which have taken them, even better this year than last, and have done much to increase public sympathy for their race.
The co-education of the sexes is regarded at Hampton as essential to the development of both these races in which woman has been so long degraded. The Indian girls' improvement has been as marked as the boys'. Their early inuring to labor has its compensation in a better physical condition apparently, and their uplifting may prove the most important factor in the salvation of their race. Besides the class instruction which they share with the boys, the girls are trained in the various household industries - washing, ironing, cooking, the care of their rooms, and to cut and make and mend their own clothes and the boys'. They all have flower gardens, and take great delight in them, and in decorating their rooms. The cooking class, under a teacher who has had charge of the "North End Mission" cooking school in Boston, is a very favorite "branch." Its daily successes are placed triumphantly upon the table of the class they belong to, and no doubt find the regular road to the hearts of the brave.
A love-letter picked up on the floor of a school with Hampton's views on coeducation need not inevitably shock even pedagogic sensibilities. Written in an unknown tongue, however, with only the names to betray it, a translation by the private interpreter seemed only a proper precaution. If I confide it to the gentle reader, the Indian lovers will be neither the worse nor the wiser, while some others may find in it valuable suggestions for similar correspondence.
"NORMAL SCHOOL, February 3, 1879.
"MISS - -: I said I like you, and I want to give you a letter. Whenever I give you letter, I want you answer to me soon. That's all I want, and I will answer to you soon after. When you give me letter, it raises me up. It makes me heart-glad, sister-in-law. When I talk, I am not saying anything foolish. Always my heart very glad. I want you let me know your thought. I always like you and love you. I am honest about what I say, I always keep in mind. I want always we smile at each other when meet. We live happy always. I think that's best way, and you think it is and let me know. And I want to say one thing - don't say anything to Henry. I don't think that's right. And I say again, when I give a letter, keep nicely and not show to anyone. If they know it, it not good way. They take us away, and that is the reason don't show it. Hear me, this all I am going to say. I like you, and I love you. I won't say any more. My whole heart is shaking hands with you. I kiss you. Your lover.
At the last anniversary of Hampton, Secretary Schurz remarked in his speech: "One day, soon, a very interesting sight will be seen here and at Carlisle. It will be the first Indian School-visiting Board. Within a few days twenty-five or thirty Sioux chiefs, among them some warriors whose hands were lifted against the United States but a few days ago, Red Cloud and others, will go to Carlisle and come here to see their children in these schools."
Last May, accordingly, this "Indian School-visiting Board" reached Hampton. The meeting between them and their young relatives would have convinced the most skeptical that the heart of man answers to heart as face to face in water, whatever the skin it beats under.
As the Gros Ventre and Ree chiefs gathered the children of their own tribes around them for a special talk, Son of the Star beckoned one of the older girls to the front, and searching some mysterious depths of his blanket, drew forth a dirty little coil of string about two feet long, unwound it, straightened it carefully, and let it hang from one hand to the floor, with the other outlining some little form about it, bringing quick-flitting smiles to the face of the girl, while the whole ring looked on with evidently intelligent interest, though not a word was spoken. Handing the string over to the girl, he dived into his blanket once more, producing this time a little worn pair of baby shoes. But at this his watcher broke down entirely in a flood of tender tears; for the whole silent pantomime had been a letter from home describing the growth and beauty of the little sister she had left winking in its cradle basket two years before.
Son of the Star was a fine specimen of an old chief of powerful proportions. Poor Wolf, in full Indian costume, and glory of porcupine quills and eagle feathers, had put a finishing touch to his dignity by an incongruous and ludicrously solemn pair of huge gold-bowed spectacles, which made him look like a caricature of Confucius.
The Gros Ventres were particularly anxious to see Ara-hotch-kish, the only son of their second chief, Hard Horn, who had been prevented by some accident from accompanying the expedition. They found the little fellow in the workshop painting pails, and pressed around him in an admiring group. Ara's dignity was fully equal to the occasion. He worked away with an air of superb indifference, vouchsafing the old chiefs no notice whatever, except to elbow them aside, when his pail was done, to set it up and get down another, only a side glance now and then through his long lashes, and the shadow of a demure smile around his firm-set lips, betraying that he was taking in everything, and enjoying his honors.
All the chiefs were delighted spectators at the merry games of the evening "conversation hour." In an evil moment, however, the 15-14-13 puzzle was explained to Confucius by some of his young Gros Ventres, and he proved his common origin with white humanity by succumbing instantly to its spell. For the rest of the evening his gold-bound goggles bent over the maddening squares as if they were the problem of his race, set, according to its white brethren's favorite arrangement, with thirteen facts, fourteen experiments, and fifteen theories in hopeless reversion.
A visit from Bright Eyes, the eloquent young advocate of the Poncas, was a very powerful stimulus to the girls, as showing them what one of their own race and sex might become. After she left, one of the older girls said to me, with a pretty, timid hesitancy, "Miss Bright Eyes - I wish I like that." Her own soft bright eyes shone with a soul in them as she added: “When I came to here, I feel bad all time; I want go home; I no want stay at Hampton. Now I want stay here. I not want go home. I want learn more, then go home, teacher my people."
A few weeks after, on the visit of the chiefs from Dakota, this girl, at her own urgent request, stood up before the whole conclave and the school, and with flushed cheeks and downcast eyes told her people's rulers what the school was to her, and begged them to send all the children to learn the good road. Her speech which in order to reach all the chiefs, had to be translated by two interpreters, passing through English on the way, was listened to with respectful attention.
The most important result of Bright Eyes's visit to the school was to rouse in her own heart the desire to make use of her hold upon public sympathy for the permanent benefit of her Indian sisters. With this desire she offered her services to speak at the East in behalf of a project of some Northern friends of the school to enlarge its work by erecting a building for Indian girls, to cost, complete and furnished, $15,000. A beautiful site adjoining the school premises, and now enclosed in them, was given as a generous send-off by a lady friend. It will give room for the training of at least fifty more Indian girls at Hampton, thus affecting the desired balance of the sexes. The Secretary of the Interior has signified his readiness to send them from the agencies with the same appropriation as for the boys, of $150 per year apiece. There is every assurance of their readiness now to come. It is for the friends of the Indians to decide whether Hampton's work for them shall be thus rounded and established, and the timid prayer be heard, "I wish I like that."
Carlisle, Pennsylvania, like Hampton, Virginia, is classic ground in American history. Under the shade of its unbroken forests Benjamin Franklin met the red men in council. A British military post in the Revolution, and falling into the hands of the Continentals, the Hessian built guard-house is still shown as once the place of Andre's confinement, before his greater disaster.
|Little Indian girl in her room|
The last and greatest change of fortune, which has filled the empty armories with ploughshares and pruning-hooks, and the soldiers' quarters with a government school for Indian children - as if the spirit of the earliest and sacredest of Indian treaties still lingered in the groves of Penn - was brought about through a bill introduced in the winter of 1879 in the House of Representatives, entitled "A bill to increase educational privileges and establish additional industrial training schools for the benefit of youth belonging to such nomadic Indian tribes as have educational treaty claims upon the United States." It provided for the utilization for such school purposes of certain vacant military posts and barracks as long as not required for military occupation, and authorized the detail of army officers by the Secretary of War for service in such schools, without extra pay, under direction of the Secretary of the Interior.
The House Committee on Indian Affairs, in favorably reporting upon this
bill, urged that the government had made treaty stipulations specially providing for education with nomadic tribes, including about seventy-one thousand Indians, having over twelve thousand children of school age; that the treaties were made in 1868, and in ten years less than one thousand children had received schooling. It was further urged that “the effort in this direction recently undertaken and in successful progress at the Industrial and Normal Institute of Hampton, Virginia, furnishes a striking proof of the natural aptitude and capacity of the rudest savages of the plains for mechanical, scientific, and industrial education, when removed from parental and tribal surroundings and influences"; and that "the very considerable number of agents, teachers, missionaries, and others engaged in educational work who have visited and witnessed the methods of Hampton, join in commending them as just what the Indian needs, while the intercourse between the youth at Hampton and their parents has produced extraordinary interest and demand for educational help from these tribes."
The importance of this measure was so recognized that even in anticipation of subsequent favorable action upon it by Congress, with a wise cutting of red tape, the War Department turned over Carlisle Barracks to the Interior, and Captain Pratt was detailed to bring children from the Northern agencies before the frosts came, which would have delayed it another year. The transfer of the post was effected on the centennial anniversary of the battle of White Plains, eliciting from Secretary McCreary a felicitous remark upon the coincidence which on such memorial day gave up to Indian education a post for eighty years used as a training school for cavalry officers to make war chiefly upon Indians.
Taking with him Hampton's god-speed, and two of his most advanced Dakota boys for interpreters and "specimens," the captain started for Dakota in September, 1879, returning in a few weeks with eighty-four.
|Tinner's apprentice class at Carlisle|
All but two of the St. Augustines from Hampton also accompanied their captain to Carlisle, to form a starting-point of English speech and civilization. One of these young men, a Kiowa, with a companion who had been under instruction at the North, went on alone to Indian Territory in advance of Captain Pratt, and by their own influence they gathered forty-two children and youth from their own agency for Carlisle. These, with some more from other agencies in the Territory, were brought by the captain to the school, and it opened with one hundred and forty-seven children on the 1st of November, 1879.
The President's next Message and the report of the Secretary of the Interior again commended to public attention the importance of the work at Hampton, with the new efforts to which its "promising results" had led at Carlisle and at Forest Grove, Oregon, where arrangements were made for the similar training at a white boarding-school of a number of Indian boys and girls belonging to tribes on the Pacific coast, under charge of Captain Wilkinson, who is making it quite successful under many difficulties.
Additions and changes from time to time have brought the number at Carlisle up to one hundred and ninety-six at the present time, fifty-seven of whom are girls. Besides the Sioux and St. Augustines, there are in lesser numbers other Cheyennes, Arrapahoes, and Kiowas; also Comanches, Wichitas, Seminoles, Pawnees, Keechis, Towaconies, Nez Perces, and Poncas, from Indian Territory; Menomonees from Wisconsin; Iowas, Sacs, and Foxes from Nebraska; Pueblos from New Mexico; Lipans from old Mexico; to which will probably be added fifty Utes from Colorado, the first of the tribe ever in a school. Many of the number are children of chiefs or head-men; among others, of White Eagle, head chief of the Poncas; Black Crow, American Horse, and White Thunder, noted chiefs of the Sioux. The famous old chief Spotted Tail had four boys there and a daughter, with two more distant relatives, but, on his visit to them, took umbrage at finding his half-breed son-in-law no longer needed as interpreter, and went off in a huff, with all his little Spotted Tails behind him. For this hasty action he was called to account, immediately on his return, by his people, who could not understand why, if Carlisle was a bad place, he should not have brought their children away too, and on hearing the other side of the story from the chiefs who had accompanied him, asked to have him deposed for "double talking." One of the indignant parents, with the mild name of Milk, in writing upon the subject to Captain Pratt, says, with some lactic acidity, "Spotted Tail has been to the Great Father's house so often that he has learned to tell lies and deceive people." It is pleasant to add that a judicious letting alone had the due effect, and he has requested the government's permission to send his children back to Carlisle.
Many visitors go to Carlisle to see the Indians. Some of them, it must be acknowledged, are disappointed. After alighting at the commandant's office, and being courteously received by Captain Pratt or one of his assistants, the spokesman of the party asks politely if they may " first look' about by themselves a little." Cordial permission given, they set forth, but in the course of half an hour are back again with clouded brows, and the appeal, "We thought we might see some Indians round; can you show us some?" A smile and a circular wave of the hand emphasize the assurance that a score or two of noble red men are within easy eye-range at the moment. Following the gesture with a glance over the green where the boys and girls are passing, perhaps, to their school-rooms, the shade of un-satisfaction deepens, and they explain. "Oh, but I mean real Indians. Haven't you some real Indians - all in blankets, you know, and feathers, and long hair?"
A little allowance must be made for sentiment in human nature, and if these easily disappointed visitors stay long enough, they may be gratified with an occasional " real Indian" dance of a gentle type, or without much trouble the ell-named maiden Pretty Day might be persuaded to attire herself, as becomes a high-born princess of the plains, in her cherished dress of finest dark blue blanket, embroidered deer-skin leggings, and curiously netted cape adorned with three hundred milk-white elk teeth, each pair of them the price of a pony.
Aboriginal picturesqueness is certainly sacrificed to a great extent in civilization. One who is willing to relinquish the idea, however, of a menagerie of wild creatures kept for exhibition, will not regret to find instead a school of neatly dressed boys and girls, with bright eyes and clean faces, as full of fun and frolic as if they were the descendants of the Puritans.
The barracks stand on a knoll half a mile from the town. From the upper piazza of the commandant's quarters the eye sweeps over a beautiful landscape. Spurs of the Blue Ridge circle it in front and rear, from five to eight miles away, the old town lies down in the hollow, green fields stretch between, and the little "Tort Creek" winds it’s very tortuous way round the post grounds and through a grove of old trees. Beyond the flag-staff in front of the house is the parade-ground, where the boys drill and the girls play. A pretty sight it is to see the merry little crowd enjoying a game of ball, or with heads up and toes trying to turn out, taking off the boys' "setting-up drill," with shouts of laughter, finishing all up properly with the difficult achievement of touching fingers to toes without bending the knees.
Long brick buildings, ranged in a hollow square with double sides, are variously occupied by schoolrooms and quarters for students and teachers, offices, dining-room, kitchen, hospital, etc. The large stables of the garrison have been, for the most part, converted into workshops and a gymnasium. A little wooden chapel has been put up for the school, simply a long room, well lighted and furnished with settees, but this has been all the building needed. So many substantial edifices, in tolerable order to start with, have been a great advantage. This is especially noticeable in the school building, two stories high like the rest, the upper half of which affords four school-rooms, each fifty feet by twenty-four, and two recitation-rooms of half the length. All are furnished with comfortable desks, blackboards, and all the conveniences of a well- ordered school. The lower story, containing the same room, allows for doubling the" number of students, which is the captain's desire.
A walk through these pleasant classrooms is of great interest. Each contains from thirty to forty pupils, under the constant care, for the most part, of one teacher, who, as may be imagined, has her hands full to keep all busy and quiet, but who does it, somehow, to a remarkable degree. As at Hampton, the great object is to teach English, and then the rudiments of an English education, and the methods employed are similar.
The results possible cannot be more fairly shown than by a slate not gotten up for the occasion, but filled with the day's work of one of the pupils - not the best offered, but chosen because it was the work of a little Sioux boy of twelve or thirteen, who, seven months and a half before, had never had any schooling in any language, and did not know a word of English, nor how to make a letter or a figure. He evidently did know how to make pictures, as most of his race do. The blackboards of an Indian recitation-room are usually rich in works of art illustrative of the day's doings, or memories of home life.
|Harness making apprentices at Carlisle|
The industries, agricultural and mechanical, are under the charge of master workmen; a skilled farmer, carpenter, wagon-maker, and blacksmith, harness-maker, tinner, shoemaker, baker, tailor, and printer. All the boys not learning trades are required to work in turn on the farm. Twelve acres of arable land belong to the post, and twelve more have been rented - two hundred could well be used. The articles manufactured in the shops are taken by government for the agencies. Under this wise encouragement they have already turned out wagons and farm implements, dozens of sets of harness, hundreds of dozens of tin ware, and numbers of pairs of shoes, besides doing all the mending, and making all of the girls' clothing and most of the boys' underwear. The amount of students' work on these varies. No waste is allowed; the master-workmen do the cutting out and planning, for the most part, but the apprentices are brought forward as fast as possible and the masters say they are up to any apprentices. Indeed, the enthusiastic master tinsmith put a challenge into a Carlisle paper, which was not taken up, offering to back Roman Nose, one of the St. Augustines, against any apprentice with no longer practice, for $100 a side. One of the young Sioux shoemakers took his father's measure when he visited the school, and sent him by mail, after he went home, a pair of boots made entirely by himself.
The two printer apprentices are practiced chiefly upon the monthly "organ" of the school, the Eadle-Keatah-toh (Morning Star), a very interesting little sheet. One of the boys, however, Samuel Townsend, a Pawnee from Indian Territory, prints a tiny paper, the School News, of which he is both editor and proprietor writing his own editorials and correcting his own proof.
The girls' industrial room makes as good showing as the boys'. Many have learned to sew by hand, and some to run the sewing-machine. Virginia, daughter of the Kiowa chief Stumbling Bear, made a linen shirt, with bosom, entirely by herself, washed and ironed it herself, and sent it to her father. Two Sioux girls have made calico shirts for their fathers. Mending is very neatly done. At Carlisle, as at Hampton, the tender maidens sweeten industry with sentiment, and carefully rummage the darning basket for the stockings of the boys they like the best.
The young St. Augustine from Hampton who went to Indian: Territory to collect pupils for Carlisle, took wise advantage of the opportunity to bring back a sweetheart for himself. His naïve account of the affair to the captain makes a good companion piece to the Hampton love-letter.
"Long time ago, in my home, Indian Territory, I hunt and I fight. I not think about the girls. Then you take us St. Augustine. By-and-by I learn to talk English. I try to do right. Everybody very good to me. I try do what you say. But I not think about the girls. Then I go Hampton. There many good girls. I study. I learn to work. But I not think about the girls. Then I come Carlisle. I work hard; try to help you. By-and-by you send me Indian Territory for Indian boys and Indian girls. I go get many - fifteen. I see all my people, my old friends. But I not think about the girls there. But Laura, she think. She tell me she be my wife. I bring her here, Carlisle. She know English before. She study and sew. Now Laura's father dead, since come here. Now I think all the time, I think, who take care of Laura? I think by-and-by I find place to work near here; I work very hard. I take care of Laura."
Besides this frank damsel, who "thinks" to so much purpose, he brought with him a bright little sister of his own, and several brothers and sisters of the other St. Augustines, all of whom are among the most promising of the Carlisle pupils.
Carlisle, like Hampton, has met with much sympathy from its neighbors. It is illustrated, with other points, in an item which appeared in a Carlisle paper during the visit of the Sioux chiefs: "A few mornings since we noticed one of the young Indian men passing in the direction of the post-office, and at his side a comely Indian maiden. The day being warm, the young man carried a huge umbrella to shield them from the sun. Only a short distance in front of them several Indian chiefs were stalking along, wrapped in blankets, and bare-headed. The contrast was so striking that it attracted the attention of many persons on the street. And the conclusion was irresistibly forced upon all who noticed the incident that the Indian school is proving a great success."
The visit of the Sioux chiefs to Carlisle was prolonged to eight or ten days, and, with the exception of Spotted Tail's uncomfortable episode, was pleasant and profitable to all.
Accompanying the party was one Indian named Cook, who, not being a chief, had not been invited to come at government expense, so he came at his own expense, all the way from Dakota, to see his little girl at the Carlisle school. He was greatly pleased with her surroundings and progress, and the day after he arrived went out into the town and bought her a white dress, a pair of slippers, and a gold chain and cross. Arrayed in these gifts, he took his precious "Porcelain Face" out with him to have their photographs taken to carry home.
|Two Indian girls after a summer in the Berkshires|
Both Hampton and Carlisle afford excellent opportunity for study of race character. The chief conclusion will be that Indian children are, on the whole, very much like other children, some bright and some stupid, some good and some perverse, all exceedingly human. The untamed shyness, so much in the way of their progress, seems to be as marked in the half-breeds as in those of full blood, unless they have been brought up among white people. It wears off fastest in the younger ones, in constant meeting with strangers, and association with new companions. A certain self-consciousness and sensitive pride is left which is not a bad point in the character. A quick sense of humor is its correlative, perhaps, and both may result from the trained and inherited keenness of observation which appreciates both the fitting and the incongruous.
The pupils at Carlisle and Hampton are in constant receipt of letters from their parents and friends, written some in picture hieroglyphics, some in Sioux, and some, through their interpreters, in English, but all expressive of earnest desire for their progress in school. About a hundred of these letters were sent to the Indian Department by Captain Pratt, forty of which were referred to the Senate in answer to Senator Teller's resolution against compulsory education for the Cheyennes. Indian sentiments on education expressed by themselves, and the real effect upon Indian parents of sending their children to a white man's school, no one need question who reads the following specimens of these letters, translated from the Sioux:
"PINE RIDGE AGENCY, DAKOTA, April 15, 1880.
"MY DEAR SON, — I send my picture with this. You see that I had my War Jacket on when taken, but I wear white man's clothes, and am trying to live and act like white men. Be a good boy. We are proud of you, and will be more so when you come back. All our people are building houses and opening up little farms all over the reservation. You may expect to see a big change when you get back. Your mother and all send love.
"Your affectionate father,
"Rosebud AGENCY, January 4, 1880.
"MY DEAR DAUGHTER, — Ever since you left me I have worked hard, and put up a good house, and am trying to be civilized like the whites, so you will never hear anything bad from me. When Captain Pratt was here he came to my house, and asked me to let you go to school. I want you to be a good girl and study. I have dropped all the Indian ways, and am getting like a white man, and don't do anything but what the agent tells me. I listen to him. I have always loved you, and it makes me very happy to know that you are learning. I get my friend Big Star to write. If you could read and write, I should be very happy. Your father, BRAVE BULL.
"Why do you ask for moccasins? I sent you there to be like a white girl, and wear shoes."
A small Indian girl who wanted to exhibit her knowledge of a good big English word, announced that she had come East to be "cilyized." I hope I have shown sufficiently that it is the effort of Hampton and Carlisle not to sillyize the Indian. Let us not, on the other hand, sillyize ourselves. One great lesson of the missionary work of fifty years has been to work with nature and not against nature; the next must be to be content with natural results. We forget that we are ourselves but the saved remnant of a race. I cannot do better on this point for both schools than to quote from an address of General Armstrong: "The question is most commonly asked, Can Indians be taught? That is not the question. Indian minds are quick; their bodies are greater care than their minds; their character is the chief concern of their teachers. Education should be first for the heart, then for the health, and last for the mind, reversing the custom of putting the mind before physique and character. This is the Hampton idea of education."
Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. April 1881.