Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 1, 2021

Carlisle: The Children Who Never Came Home

Carlisle Indian School Photo by Brenda Norrell Longest Walk 2008

Remembering the children who never came home

by Brenda Norrell
Censored News 2008

Photos for the families of the children who never came home. Carlisle Cemetery 2008 by 

CARLISLE, Penn. -- Most American Indian children in US boarding schools were kidnapped, stolen from their parents. At Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Native American children were part of the US experiment which became the prototype of the boarding schools that followed. Across the US, Indian children were forbidden to speak their language, which carried their songs and ceremonies. Their hair was cut in an attempt to cut the Indian-ness from them.

In boarding schools, children were routinely abused, beaten and sexually abused. Many were tortured and locked in cellars. Some were shot trying to escape. Many died of malnutrition and pneumonia. Others died of tuberculosis and genocide: Children with TB were housed with healthy children, producing the rampant spread of tuberculosis.

The young boys who survived were militarized, made into US soldiers. The Carlisle school eventually became an Army War College and finally the US Army Campus.

At Haskell, the unmarked graves in the marsh tell the rest of the story. Many of the children who died, or were murdered, were buried in unmarked graves without gravestones.

This pattern of genocide was repeated in Australia and Canada. In Canada, at the residential schools operated by churches, there is new evidence that children were raped and murdered.

Irene Favel, survivor of Muscowequan Catholic residential school in Lestock, Saskatchewan, describes seeing a newborn baby thrown alive into a furnace at that school by a priest in 1944. An Indian girl had been raped by a priest and given birth.

Carlisle was built on the premise of a prison.
At Carlisle, Richard H. Pratt designed the school, based on his experience at St. Augustine prison in Florida.

"Kill the Indian, and save the man," Pratt said, stating his theory of education.

"The children arrived in Carlisle on October 6, 1879 and soon the assimilation began. The boys were dressed in military uniforms, the girls wore Victorian-style dresses. Both male and female were forced to have their hair cut, which to the Lakota the cutting of the hair was symbolic of mourning."

The tombstones tell the story, the children quickly began dying.

An unknown number died after returning home and a generation of American Indians suffered from childhoods of abuse, deprived of the love of their parents.

At Carlisle, there were 10,000 Indian children in the boarding school between 1879 and 1918. There are 186 graves that are marked with tombstones.

An unknown number of children were buried without markers.

In the cemetery, names remember the children of Carlisle

Fanny Charging Shield, Sioux, died March 7, 1892; Susia Nach Kea, Apache, died May 14, 1889; Godfrey Blatcha, Apache, died July 1890; Cooking Look, Alaskan, died Jan. 4, 1904; Alice Springer, Omaha, died Nov. 12, 1883; Henry Jones, Iowa, died March 20, 1880; Nannie Little Rose, Cheyenne; Albert Henderson; Giles Hands, died May, 1881, Cheyenne; Maul, daughter of Chief Swift Bear, Sioux, died Dec. 1880; Ernest, son of Chief White Thunder, Sioux, died Dec. 14, 1880; Isabel Kelcusay, Apache, died on Christmas day, Dec. 25, 1884; Pedro Sanchez, Apache, died in May of 1885; Frank Cushing, Pueblo, died July 22, 1881; William Sammers, Cheyenne, died May 21, 1888, Corine Simohtie, Apache, died Feb. 11, 1886; Sibyl Mapko, Apache; Kate Rosskidwitts, Witchita, died Jan. 10, 1882, John Bytzolay and all the others.

More names of the children who never came home.

After more than 100 years, children of Carlisle begin their journey home.

May 2021
Children coming home from Carlisle to Alaska and Rosebud after 100 years


tylerstwit said...

My late MIL attended Carlisle. When I had the chance to visit there I did, for the dedication of the marker shown above. Before that, there was NOTHING there to show what it WAS because it is NOW an Army base. A gravestone with HER family name was there for a 12 year old who died there at the age of 12 in the late 1800's. God Bless Barb Landis for uncovering this lost place.

elizabeth said...

this makes me so ashamed of what my forefather did to all of the indian nations and the black people,don't understand why you hate someone because their ways are different or the skin is a different color. what can i do to help these people e.g.

tylerstwit said...

elizabeth, I lived with the Senecas for over 30 years and grew to love them as a people. I did however grow up with them so to speak because the rez was close to our town. All I can say is this: Don't treat anyone as though they were different. We are all made the same inside, imcluding our hearts and that's what makes us who we are!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
~ ITLATOL said...

There were 9 children in all from my Great Grandmother ( who was murdered in Taos) ~ my generation only knew 3 of those children. My grandma and my 2 great aunties, one who was taken to carlise. Where are the other 6 children ?
Where are the other 6 children ?