“Educating” the Chiricahua Children at Carlisle (1890s)

Captain Pratt told Chiricahua students that their parents were uncivilized and belonged to the past. Carlisle teachers instructed Apache children in English, taught them a trade, and converted many to Christianity. Pratt encouraged the students to abandon their families and remain in the east after graduating.

“…  The next day the torture began. The first thing they did was cut our hair. I had taken my knife from one of my long braids and wrapped it in my blankets, so I didn’t lose it. But I lost my hair…. While we were bathing our breechclouts were taken, and we were ordered to put on trousers. We’d lost our hair and we’d lost our clothes with the two we’d lost our identity as Indians. Greater punishment could hardly have been devised. That’s what I thought till they marched us into a room and our interpreter ordered us to line up with our backs to the wall…. Then a man went down it. Starting with me he began: ‘Asa, Benjamin, Charles, Daniel, Eli, Frank. Frank was Mangus’ son. So he became Frank Mangus and I became Asa Daklugie. We didn’t know till later that they’d even imposed meaningless new names on us, along with other degradations. I’ve always hated that name. It was forced on me as though I was an animal.”  (Asa Daklugie, Chiricahua Apache POW and Carlisle student. Quoted in Eve Ball 1980:144.)

The most famous images of Apache children at Carlisle are “before” and “after” photographs of eleven students. Pratt used these pictures to advertise how he killed the Indian to save the man.

” … When these children were first put at Carlisle they were wild, untrained, filthy savages. The few months during which they have been under Captain Pratt’s guidance and in which they have breathed the civilizing atmosphere of the school, have wrought great changes in them…. They have learned, with surprising quickness, the ways of civilized living…. (Their) combative disposition now seems to be rapidly subsiding, as they are coming more and more under the influence of habits of order and self-control…. They (are) as easily managed as any other children.”  (Herbert Welsh, Corresponding Secretary of the Indian Rights Association, after a visit to Carlisle in March 1887. Herbert Welsh, “The Apache Prisoners in Fort Marion, St. Augustine, Florida.”  Philadelphia:  Indian Rights Association. 1887:4.)

Seven of these young Apaches eventually died from tuberculosis they contracted at Carlisle. They were in no way saved; they were just killed.

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Chiricahua Children POWs Sent to Carlisle Indian School, PA