The following people had experiences with the American Indian boarding schools. You may learn more about their experiences by selecting the complete text link.
Please note that it is not uncommon to find grammatical or spelling errors in the quotations as they are taken directly from the original documents.
Comments by and about Captain R. H. Pratt
Click on the linked journals or linked texts below to read the complete documents.
"We can end their existence among us as such separate people by a broad and generous system of English education and training, which will reach all the 50,000 children and in a few years remove all our trouble from them as a separate people and as separate tribes among us, and instead of feeding, clothing and caring for them from year to year, put them in condition to feed clothe and care for themselves. Our experiences in many individual cases in the last few years make it evident that not only may we fit him to go and come and abide in the land where ever he may choose, and so lose his identity"
"To Captain R.H. Pratt, the superintendent of this school, is due the credit of conceiving and, so far as possible, of carrying out the idea that 'the most effectual way of getting civilization into the Indian is to get the Indian into civilization'."
Recollections of an Indian girl, Zitkala Sa
"Late in the morning, my friend Judewin gave me a terrible warning. Judewin knew a few words of English; and she had overheard the paleface woman talk about cutting our long, heavy hair. Our mothers had taught us that only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy. Among our people, short hair was worn by mouners, and shingled hair by cowards!"......
I cried aloud, shaking my head all the while until I felt the cold blades of the scissors against my neck, and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids. Then I lost my spirit".
Letters/Comments from Boarding School Boys and Girls
SANTEE AGENCY, Neb., March 8, 1886
"My dear lady:
I am going to write to you. I am a Indian girl, and my Dakota name is Winona, and my English name is Fannie Frazier I am 12 years old. I stay here five years. I like to go to school......"
"Went I was Indian, I used to water my father horse. I used to hunt deer. I bring home my friend all eat. I used scout with white men. I fight Indian some no like white people they fight. don’t fight now I come away my home to be like a man so I throw Indian ways."
". . . When I was a little boy I used to play all the time, now I like to work hard like very much indeed, because if I work hard and get some money not to go away, that is the reason we like them for I come in Hampton normal I used to live in my tents and stay all time in my tents when I was a little boy I used to take care of them ponies all time and every morning and take the ponies in a nice grass is and have good to eat them nice grass note to way to take care of them. Now I am doing to school I would take care of them horse and make fat horses any more because I will try and be contented..."
The following is an excerpt from a "short talk" given by Etahdleuh Doanmoe ("Boy Hunting") at the anniversary of Hampton Institute.
"I am a Kiowa Indian boy twenty three years old. My home is in the Indian Territory...."
"I left my home in Washington D.C.,the 20th of Nov., 1884, for Santee, Nebraska to labor among the Indians."
". . . At Cheyenne a member of fine-looking, well dressed young Indian men came up to me and addressed me in English. I did not recognize some of them and they told me they went to school to me in 75, 76, and 77. I remember them as dirty little long haired, blanket indians. It made my heart strong to take these manly young men by the hand and to hear them say, You were my first teacher".
"...I am very glad to write to you about the Indian girls, because I am so much interested in them. There are twenty-four in the boarding school, their ages range from about six to eighteen years. They are quick learning and do very nicely indeed, in drawing..."
Parents Respond: Letters to Children and School Officials/Resistance
"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...."
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..."
"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
"Fat Mandan is my name, and I shake your hand."