When anyone views factual research as opposing their views it becomes inherently viewed as political, thus there is no way to be viewed as non-political. This is unfortunate. The listings on this site include the following who attended Indian boarding schools:
1.Non-federal tribes 2.Tribes who at the time of their original attendance were not federally recognized, but who are now federally recognized 3.“International” indigenous people from outside the United States who attended Indian boarding schools in the US
-This research is not complete and is ongoing. Tribes such as the Rappahannock, MOWA Choctaw, and Lumbee are only partially researched at this time. I regret this, but time is what it is. I have documented much of my own tribe’s Bacone attendance, but have not completed our Haskell and Acadia Baptist involvement. Some day, oh someday…
-Researching historical documents for “non-federal” tribal boarding school attendance can be complex in terms of defining communities. For instance, Haliwa-Saponi, MOWA Choctaw, Lumbee, North Carolina Tuscarora, Monacan and a couple of others may be listed as “Cherokee” in the historical documentation, yearbook pictures, etc. “Cherokee” was a common name given to Eastern tribal people by school officials or in the case of those who had mixed Cherokee ancestry, it became the primary definition for these officials no matter the mention of other lineage. Understanding surnames, hometowns, regions, etc. becomes an absolute necessity in insuring who is who amongst attendees.
-Surnames have to be gone over time and again. A common surname amongst a tribe, may not fit the tribal listing, as the one parent’s tribe whose surname is equivalent, might not be the enrolled tribe of the individual.
-Some alumni from non-federal tribes relocated and are listed under the names of those tribes with whom they had intermarried with or in the case of some who moved to Oklahoma prior to allotment and gained citizenship amongst three of the Five Civilized tribes, listed under their “new” tribe.
-Tribes are sometimes listed under their traditional names, such as in the case of the Wampanoag, who have four different recorded names in the boarding school literature.
-Some attendees of mixed federal and “non-federal” parentage are listed solely under the federal parentage. A more recent Haskell attendee, whose grandfather is a Nanticoke who graduated from Haskell and taught there for twenty years, was listed as only Mississippi Choctaw and Kiowa with no mention of his Nanticoke ancestry. A more recent example would be a member of the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians Court who was accepted to Haskell, but listed only under her mother’s tribe; Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
-Some tribes from outside the US may have close ties to tribes within the US and may have listed a US hometown during their boarding school attendance days. The Kickapoos from Mexico are an example and one will see that they list McLoud, Oklahoma (where some of the US Kickapoos reside) as a hometown when they are actually from Mexico. The same can be said for Chippewa/Ojibwa attendees and others.
-Spellings of tribal names change over the generations and dependent upon who is taking down the information. A wide range of spellings can be seen over more than a century.
-Some individuals will have their own tribal identities listed in multiple ways throughout the course of their years of attendance.
-As previously mentioned current tribal names many times do not match up with listings during boarding school times. MOWA Choctaw were listed as Choctaw, Cherokee-Choctaw, Choctaw-Cherokee, and Cherokee during the course of their attendance. The acronymn MOWA was not attached until 1978 and so everyone prior to this is listed as the former. Other tribes, such as those in California were listed with ambiguous names such as “Diggers”, which was a general term for many different tribal communities. Some of the “Diggers” exist as federal tribes and some do not, so identifying them takes some work.
-Some tribes such as the Kansas Muncie do not have currently functioning tribal governments, but do have intact community structures, so government want of “official” structure becomes problematic for them in terms of asserting their status as boarding school alumni.
-Some tribes also have loose or tighter designations with neighboring federal tribes. The Delaware in Eastern Oklahoma for many years were grouped with the Cherokee politically until just recently and were frequently misidentified in boarding school records as Cherokee. Due to this and their current designation as a federal tribe they were left out of this research, but the Euchee, who it could be argued are similar in their relationship with the Creek Nation of Oklahoma as the Delaware were with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma are a part of the project as they have consistently been labeled in boarding school records for over a century as separate from Creek Indians.
-There also exists a profound labeling of Black descended Indian people throughout the historical boarding school records. White descended Indian people are typically not labeled as such, while any black admixture is clearly designated by records. Hampton records reflect this in concise form and go as far to mention if the Indian Hampton alumni married a Black person later on in their adulthood. Sioux, Kiowa, Shinnecock, Ponca and other examples are listed in Hampton records. These designations typically, though not all, have no evidence other than the observation of appearance by a white teacher or administrator. What is interesting is how such available records exist listing Black ancestry amongst these federal tribes, but people rarely hear of this, while any records listing Black or perceived Black ancestry amongst “non-federal” tribes is used to discredit their Indian identities.
Blackhawk, Frank (Cetan-Sapa): Sioux & Negro (Standing Rock, ND)
October 1881-July 1885. Frank was the first Indian with
black ancestry to attend HI. Served eighteen months in
prison for stealing alcohol from the agency physician.
Assistant cook at the state penitentiary after his release,
farmer, and laborer. Later jailed a second time for
complicity in the Spicer family murders, but released when
other individuals involved in the murder were lynched while
in prison. Died in March 1901.
Lonewolf, William: Kiowa & Negro
(Kiowa & Comanche Reservation, OK) Son of Lone Wolf, an
adopted Kiowa of negro blood who became a Kiowa chief.
October 1897-May 1901. Blacksmith and owner of his own shop
Thompson, Henry Brodette: Shinnecock & Negro (NY)
October 1900 until graduating in 1906. Also awarded a
carpentry certificate in 1904. Golf course employee and
Williams, James Prettyhair (Pahinthagthin): Ponca & Negro
September 1897-June 1899. Assistant industrial teacher,
agency blacksmith, and farmer. James was elected a Ponca
chief in 1903.
The reader/researcher must remember from the beginning of all of this, that research specific to “non-federal” tribal attendance at Indian boarding schools has never been undertaken with the exception of specific, singular mentions of various publications dealing with a specific tribe. This is the first collective effort and so there are many issues and difficulties which one must expect and accept in pursuing this type of research. The first is that there are people today who do not want this story to be told. It is simply easier to act as if it did not happen and project the status quo image of “federally recognized Indian as real Indian”, which has become a favorite of some in academia and within large descendant based tribes or with tribes who fear gaming competition from nearby tribal communities. An example would be the former Chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians who attacked non-federal tribes, yet documentation shows he attended boarding school with them at the Cherokee Boarding School in Cherokee, North Carolina. The Creek Nation of Oklahoma has also attempted to dismantle the separate identity of Euchees as they are weary of possible and unfounded Euchee gaming interests
This view is at best insincere and self-serving, but in reality more so indicative of what Pamunkey tribal member Rose Powhatan defines as “document genocide; n. 1. the deliberate extermination of a race of people through changing information about them in an official paper.” The People Who Stayed: Southeastern Indian Writing After Removal, p. 23
From the age of eighteen until now (I am 36), I have had the privilege of visiting and fellowshipping with many of the boarding school alumni from “non-federal” tribes that you will see listed here. They do exist. They are real. And more importantly, they count.
Direct documentation is posted here on the sight as we have found that simple footnotes do not do their histories justice. Footnotes are commonly used without context in academic works with clear agendas. Direct documentation cannot be manipulated or conjured up. It is clear, original, and well….documented. I hope to upload more and more as the years go on as there are certainly omissions that deserve to be documented in their entirety.
The eight schools in this work are all interconnected in many ways, thus eliminating arguments such as what defines an Indian school. For some, attempting to project any of these schools as non-Indian is a last ditch effort to support their views that “non-federal” tribal people are illegitimate. Two such individuals even went so far as to say that Bacone is not an Indian school, but rather a Baptist school. Baptist affiliation does not alter the reality of Indian schools and Baptist ties to Indian schools are long standing. Bacone is without question the oldest continually function American Indian school in North America. This cannot be disproven or spun. In fact it is clear that the four most prominent names in the history of Indian education would be Bacone, Carlisle, Chilocco, and Haskell. We have provided ample documentation as to the “Indianess” of all such schools. What also eliminates silly arguments is the occupational and familial associations shared between the schools. Documentation clearly illustrates that it was normal for educators, administrators, staff members, and students to move from one school to another. The literary record and life stories of these individuals bare this out. While one sibling attended Bacone, another one would be attending Chilocco, and the two would have a first cousin concurrently attending Haskell. Students and teachers moved from the Cherokee Boarding School to Carlisle and then through to Hampton. Students from Acadia Baptist and Choctaw Central High School moved on to Bacone and Haskell. Book after book relating to Indian history, politics, and social issues contain the names of these schools collectively in bibliographies and indexes. If you find Haskell, you will probably find a mention of Hampton, and then a mention of Bacone and on it goes. There was and is a never ending connection which extends for generations. And what about the tribes? Why were tribes like the Pamunkey and Comanche as a federal example sending their members to all these different schools away from their homes? Were they just randomnly sending some to Indian schools and then suddenly sending others to “non-Indian” schools at a time when Indians were not even allowed large scale attendance at such places? Of course not. Comanches and Pamunkeys, as just one of many examples, went to Indian schools because they were and are Indian. Marriage patterns amongst attendees show this as well. When one visits the Nanticoke community in Delaware, they will see Kiowa and other surnames present amongst their tribal members. Visiting the MOWA Choctaw and Euchee communities becomes a “whose who” of tribal lineages due to a heavy incidence of intermarriage with former boarding school classmates.
The current, completely unfinished list of attendees nears 300 individuals with at least one hundred more to still be recorded. And this is without the inclusion of Pembroke State University in North Carolina, which is a lifetime project unto itself, and one we sincerely hope someone out there is going to take on if they haven’t already. So the argument goes … well 300 isn’t very many when you are dealing with over twenty tribes! Of course, these individuals forget you are dealing with 20 primarily very small tribes. The Lumbee part of the project has not even been explored to 1% of participation at this stage (and I apologize to the Lumbee for not doing enough on researching their attendance), and the other tribes average tribal enrollments of only around 1,000 individuals. And of course the percentage is skewed as the numbers of these schools have dramatically decreased (only Bacone remains, as Haskell no longer allows the attendance of these tribes, unless they also have a parent or grandparent who descends from a federal tribe). If all eight schools were functioning there would be much larger numbers of attendees over the last few decades. An example of how these numbers directly impact these small populations would be in the case of MOWA Choctaw tribal member and boarding school alumni Irene Snow, who is typical of those who attended in terms of family dynamics. Mrs. Snow has seven children, 18 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren for a total of 33 direct descendants, not including her own siblings and cousins. So 33 people are directly impacted by the boarding school history of this one individual as well as her close relatives who also attended. On various community roads within the Chickahominy, Euchee, MOWA Choctaw, Mattaponi, Pamunkey, Upper Mattaponi and other tribes included, one is hard pressed to find a solitary home which does not include a boarding school alumnus. These alumni of “non-federal” tribes frequently explained to me how they were approached by government officials and missionaries and asked which school they would want to attend while offering up Haskell, Bacone, Chilocco, and a few others. Kenneth Custalow, a Mattaponi from Virgina who graduated from Bacone, made it clear to me that he an opportunity to attend Haskell as well, put chose not to in the end. His family members had attended Cherokee as well. This was the norm. Jean Norwood attended Haskell as a twelve year old and after graduating received a scholarship from Bacone. At a meeting I spoke at in Virginia, when I asked people to stand up if they had a relative who attended either Haskell or Bacone, the entire room of nearly 150 individuals rose from their seats. At the North Carolina Indian Unity Conference in March of 2011 when I posed the same question, half the room stood up. People follow people and tribal patterns exhibit this. The majority of MOWA Choctaw attended Bacone and Acadia, simply because of familiarity, with a few also attending Haskell and Choctaw Central High School. An argument was posed that the few who attended Haskell don’t legitimize the community as Indian since there were only a few there. Huh? MOWA Choctaw attended Bacone when the school was exclusive to Indians and later on when only a few local whites could attend. While the Office of Federal Acknowledgment attempts to paint the MOWA Choctaw as Black, it flies in the face of the reality that Black people were not allowed to attend Bacone until 1958. As MOWA Choctaw attended long before then it eliminates any such designation; a designation which many of these “non-federal” boarding school tribes have been labeled with. Nanticokes attended Haskell almost exclusively, for the same reason other tribes had more in one school than another. This is a simple rule that is played out culture to culture, race to race every day in America. Family follows family. Ask a University of Oklahoma, University of Alabama, NC State, or Virginia Tech alumni if any of their family members ever attended the same school and there is a good chance the answer is yes. Now ask them how they would feel if they were not able to continue this tradition?
Some of these communities attended these schools when the OIA/BIA required a ¼ blood quantum for enrollment. And this further adds to the complexity, as most of these schools illustrate in their recruitment effort to pursue those of predominantly Indian blood. Haskell and Chilocco listed the blood quantums of attendees. How is it possible that those whose blood was listed by the OIA/BIA in official school publications are not to be considered now when it was the very organizational body denying them that defined them in the first place? Some were even listed as 4/4, so how could a mistake have been made? In cases where an individual is listed as a federal and state tribe, it could be argued that they attended the school based on lineage from the “federal” parent, but that argument also falls flat, as there are cases listed here where the individual is listed as 4/4 Indian. So how could the “non-federal” parent not count, but the student be a fullblood? In the case of indigenous attendees from outside the United States there are also listings of fullblood by BIA/OIA officials. So why then are Indians from outside the US not to be considered Indians when they are in fact Indians? One student is listed as Skagit-Puyallup and another is Yuma/Aztec. Others are listed as Indians from Canada. If Canadian Indians are not Indians, then why do they have blood quantum listed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs?
There are always time frames to argue as well. Some people will say that if they attended past the 1960’s some of the schools had integrated by then. The reality is that most of these attendees were direct relatives of those who attended prior to this time, so if their mother, father, uncle, aunt, grandma, grandpa attended, reality would tell people that they are the same race as their own parents and if their parents attended the Indian school when it was race segregated, guess what?
What makes this worse is that some currently federally recognized tribes work directly against the recognition of these tribes, when generational attendance at the schools and even intermarriage has occurred between them and those they are attempting to refute. Former leadership of both the Mississippi Choctaw and Eastern Band Cherokee attacked some of these tribes, with former Chief Phillip Martin going so far as to say in Congressional testimony that he had never even heard of the MOWA Choctaw. As previously mentioned Phillip Martin in a stroke of complete irony attended the Cherokee Boarding School in North Carolina with members of these “non-federal” tribes. Another “funny” thing, members of the tribe had been attending Choctaw Central High School, a BIA/BIE funded school, located on his reservation directly across the street from his office for at least two decades prior to this comment. And the Eastern Band’s stance on the Lumbee is at best dubious, as they have been boarding school classmates since the late 1800 and early 1900’s at Carlisle. In fact, members of some of these state tribes even attended the Cherokee Boarding School in their own community. Ironically, some tribes such as the Jena Band of Choctaw and Poarch Band of Creek Indians in the very same organization as the Mississippi Choctaw and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, USET (United South and Eastern Tribes), had never set foot inside an Indian boarding school. When I was asked to do a presentation for the Poarch Creek about Haskell back in 2002, not one person attending had ever heard of Haskell. It does not mean the Poarch Creek are not Indians, it simply means that if they are, their neighbors the MOWA Choctaw certainly are. Faulty and biased genealogy records cannot take precedence over social realities.
Of course there is also the Office of Federal Acknowledgment’s view on the schools as well which is also pretty convenient. In 2005, the Director of OFA and a white-phenotype enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Lee Fleming, a group notorious for attacking “non-federal” tribes, stated that those who attended the schools were “mistakes”. I now refer back to Rose Powhatan’s defining of document genocide. Two of those “mistakes”, the Mashpee Wampanoag and Shinnecock have now been federally recognized under his administration. In part, the reason these tribes were recognized, is because of the reality of their attendance and it brings to light the complete ignorance of those employed within the Office of Federal Acknowledgment, none of who knew that “non-federal” tribes had ever attended the schools. But why are they ignorant to these issues? Of the fifteen full-time and eight contractual employees currently working for OFA, only four are enrolled members of any tribe and one of those is an administrative assistant who has no say in the process. So now we are down to three and that includes Lee Fleming, as well as a member of the Narragansett tribe of Rhode Island and an Ojibwa/Chippewa. Almost all the rest are white. In other words, they have no context or understanding of the boarding school issue and would never even know to look. It is like asking a medical doctor to fix the engine in your vehicle.
To make matters worse, members of federal tribes who attended with our communities have told me repeatedly that they had no idea that such things were done to us or that our tribes were not federally recognized. Their words have been silenced by both OFA and the Bureau of Indian Education. Not only did they attend with members of “non-federal” tribes they also spent long term careers as colleagues with these same individuals within the Indian Health Service and BIA workplaces. A few stories were also shared with me about these “non-federal” boarding school attendees being sent on the Bureau’s relocation programs.
Many “non-recognized” students were leaders in the schools. Some also went on to long term employment within the BIA. These serve as further attachments to the federal process. A tribe listed as separate in the yearbooks such as the Yuchi/Euchee cannot be labeled as non-existent after so many years. They have an established singular federal relationship.