In my July article, I wrote about my grandfather David Johnson’s trunk on display at the Cultural Heritage Center. It was his school trunk assigned to him when he attended the Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and contained all of his worldly possessions at the time. With schools back in session across the country, I thought it might be of interest to look back to what school was like then. The following weekly newsletter from Friday, March 12, 1897 was found in David’s school trunk. This newsletter was used to welcome visitors, parents and other relatives, and to answer questions and discuss activities being provided and an overview of student “progress.”
“The Indian Helper”
How many pupils do you have? 803
As many girls as boys? No. There are 341 girls and 462 boys. The whole number of pupils under the care of Carlisle for some portion of the year was 898.
Where do your pupils mostly come from? From the Western tribes.
Which tribes? There are 61 tribes in all represented at the school, the most prominent of which are Apache, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Chippewa, Crow, Nez Perce, Omaha, Oneida, Pueblo, Sac & Fox, Sioux, Winnebago, Piegan and Pima.
What does it cost to run the school? In the neighborhood of $100,000 a year.
Who pays it? The United States government.
How much for each student does it cost? The estimate is on a basis of $167 for each pupil, but by the last annual report it will be seen that the per capita income cost was only a little over $141, which includes the cost of transporting children to and from their homes, new buildings, repairs and improvements of all kinds.
Is not that a smaller sum then other schools use? Yes; and the economy to the government is the results of our Outing System.
To what extent is the Outing System used? 213 students remained out last fall and attended public school during the winter and had the continuous benefit of family life.
Do more go out in summer than in winter? Yes. During the vacation months of July and August, 506 were out last year, which is about the number that go out every year, some years more go.
What wages do they earn? The total wages earned last year amounted to $19,238.62.
Do the girls earn money as well as well as the boys? Certainly. Of the amount stated above, the girls earned $6,480.60 and the boys the balance of $12,758.02.
Are they inclined to save? They are encouraged to do so by every possible means, but there are the same differences as among the young of any race. Some save others spend.
About how much do they save generally? From their last years’ earnings, the boys saved $5,561.19 and the girls $3,037.29, a total of $8,598.48.
How about the English speaking of the school? We hear no Indian spoken. The use of English is made compulsory. By the system we use of placing three together from different tribes in the same room, and the sending pupils to English speaking families and such other means as we can command, the mind and tongue becomes English through habit.
Do you class the industrial training of equal importance with the literary? Next to learning English well enough to use in ordinary business relations, the industrial training takes first rank in the Carlisle school curriculum. In this end, the shops are made as practicable as possible.
Through the use of the “Outing System,” my grandfather was sent to live and work on dairy farms in New Jersey, where he was to learn how to be a “white man” and farmer. Most of his meals were taken on the back porch of the family’s home where he stayed. Sound familiar?
Once again, I would like to say what an honor and privilege it is to serve you as your District 7 Representative. As always, give me a call and I will be happy to work with you on any questions you may have, or provide you with additional information you may need to access tribal benefits that you are entitled to.
Mark Johnson, Wisk Mtek
(Strong as a Tree)
Representative, District 7
1565 Shaw Ave., Suite 202
Clovis, CA 93611