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Our Undying Past

Preserving Carlisle School's story


A Carlisle Indian Industrial School student, before and after his assimilation. A coalition of descendants and allies is working to create a heritage center about the controversial school.
You’ve probably heard of Jim Thorpe, the immortal American Indian athlete. Maybe you knew he gained fame a century ago while a student at the Indian Industrial School at Carlisle, Pa. But did you know that in the eyes of many Indians and cultural historians, Thorpe’s fame is easily matched by the Carlisle school’s infamy?

For four decades beginning in 1879, the Carlisle school existed to “civilize” over 10,000 native students--to make them think and act white. Carlisle was one in a network of federally run boarding schools that systematically pulled Indian youngsters from their home reservations, sheared them of their traditional hair, names, language and traditions, and subjected them to a regimen of “total immersion” in European ways. At the time, this was considered a humane alternative to the rabid voices for extermination that were being raised, especially in the West. Read More 
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