Recovering Native American Writings in the Boarding School Press

Recovering Native American Writings in the Boarding School Press

by Jacqueline Emery (Editor)

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Recovering Native American Writings in the Boarding School Press
is the first comprehensive collection of writings by students and well-known Native American authors who published in boarding school newspapers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Students used their acquired literacy in English along with more concrete tools that the boarding schools made available, such as printing technology, to create identities for themselves as editors and writers. In these roles they sought to challenge Native American stereotypes and share issues of importance to their communities. 

Writings by Gertrude Bonnin (Zitkala-Ša), Charles Eastman, and Luther Standing Bear are paired with the works of lesser-known writers to reveal parallels and points of contrast between students and generations. Drawing works primarily from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School (Pennsylvania), the Hampton Institute (Virginia), and the Seneca Indian School (Oklahoma), Jacqueline Emery illustrates how the boarding school presses were used for numerous and competing purposes. While some student writings appear to reflect the assimilationist agenda, others provide more critical perspectives on the schools’ agendas and the dominant culture. This collection of Native-authored letters, editorials, essays, short fiction, and retold tales published in boarding school newspapers illuminates the boarding school legacy and how it has shaped, and continues to shape, Native American literary production. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803276758
Publisher: UNP - Nebraska
Publication date: 12/01/2017
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 366
Sales rank: 1,174,601
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Jacqueline Emery is an associate professor of English at State University of New York at Old Westbury. 

Read an Excerpt



Arizona Jackson (Wyandot)

Arizona Jackson, along with Ida Johnson and Lula Walker, founded, printed, and edited the Hallaquah at the Seneca Indian School. The inaugural issue of the monthly was published in December 1879. Johnson was the first editor; Jackson and Walker were associate editors. Jackson later became editor and remained on the staff while she attended Earlham College in Indiana in 1880. She then taught at the Modoc Day School in Oklahoma; she resigned her post after eight years in June 1891. (Annual Report of the Commissioner, 235; Earlham College Bulletin, 1916; Littlefield and Parins, American Indian, 144–45)

Letter to Laura, 1880

S., S. and W. Mission, I.T. January 1880

Dear Laura,

It has been so long since you were here, that I must write to inform you how much our school has improved.

During the week, we have school, Literary Society, Prayer meeting, Sabbath School, Mission Church and Gospel Temperance meeting.

Our school begins at half past eight in the morning and closes at four in the evening.

We have but two schoolrooms at the present time. The advanced students from the fourth reader and upward attend the higher department. While those below the fourth reader grade are in the Primary. There are three teachers including the music teacher.

I believe it is so arranged that while one of the teachers is absent or otherwise engaged a pupil from the most advanced class is required to take the primary room.

The evenings of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are occupied in writing. Thursday night is our Hallaquah Literary Society, which is participated in with interest by most of the students and a number of outsiders.

On Friday night all the employees and students, together with the missionaries and outsiders collect together and hold a prayer meeting. We have a very nice Sabbath School on Sabbath morning, and in the afternoon is the meeting of the Mission Church, which now numbers nearly forty members. In the evening we hold a Gospel Temperance meeting which I think has proved a great blessing to our people, and from which greater things are expected in the future.

Rev. Jeremiah Hubbard of Timbered Hills held meetings here on the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th inst. We had a real pleasant time.

They are making new additions to our Mission, a kitchen, sitting room for the girls, and a new school house. For these reasons I think it desirable for me to attend school here as long as I possibly can. I will now close hoping that you will be interested in my detailed account.

Your Friend, A. J.

Letter to the Editors, 1881

Earlham College, Ind. Jan. 1881.

Dear Editors of the Hallaquah:

I have for sometime past been wanting to write you, for the purpose of expressing my thanks for the honor conferred on me by allowing me to still hold my place on the Paper. I certainly shall do my best in contributing to the little "Star," which I see is going to shine brighter than ever, and I hope prove beneficial to all interested therein.

Respectfully, Your Friend

Arizona Jackson

Letter to Susan Longstreth, 1881

Earlham E.C. February 25, 1881

My Dear Friend S. Longstreth — I have about 15 minutes in which to write this now, and will see how far I can go. For the last two weeks we have been very busy in examinations, which is I am glad to say over with. The result of mine was, in U.S. History, 90; English, History, & Algebra, 85; Physical Geography, 94; English Composition, 98; and Deportment, 98.4 It is only five weeks until our vacation. I am contemplating going home with an Earlham friend who lives not far from Indianapolis if I can. I did think of staying here, but since I was told how terribly lonesome it is here during vacation, I would rather not stay.

I suppose you have read something of Gough's lecture in our Hallaquah Times. It was not as much of a temperance lecture as I expected. Yes, it has done some awful wrongs (whiskey has) to the Indian. About 15 or 20 years ago, most all of the Wyandots (my tribe) who lived in Kansas were very wealthy, then they began to drink, and quite a number almost ruined themselves thereby. But now there are but very few men of our tribe who drink and they are those of the lowest class. I have never known the women to drink, and I guess but few ever did.

I've found out that after I'd been here a day, the first of last term, whenever a student came, the first thing they sought was the Indian girl. Some of the girls came and asked me where she was, and seemed to be surprised when I told them that I was the Indian girl. That shows that they saw me different from what they expected. So many that know nothing of Indians can't think of them in any other way, than being savages, uncivilized, and anything but the right thing.

I received a letter from home which stated that they were having glorious meetings, and many have joined including myself. I did so by sending my name; and I ask your prayers that I may be ever faithful. Ethel is well and will send her love with mine to you. Do you know Huldah Bonwill's address? I would very much like to know that I may write to her. I will close hoping when this reaches you it will find you well, as it leaves me at present. As ever your little friend,

Arizona Jackson

Samuel Townsend (Pawnee)

Samuel Townsend, who attended Carlisle from 1879 through the late 1880s, was often represented in print as an educated Indian for his participation in performances designed to raise funds for the school. For example, an 1887 New York Times article titled "Educated Indians. The Carlisle School's Way of Solving the Indian Problem," mentions the original speech on "Work a Civilizer" that Townsend delivered before an audience at the Academy of Music in New York City. Besides delivering speeches at such events, Townsend was considered an exemplar of the vocational work being done at the school.

While at Carlisle, Townsend was trained in the school's printing office. He printed the school's publications and was the first editor of the School News, the only student-edited newspaper printed at Carlisle. A four-page, two-column monthly, the School News was printed and edited by students and was intended to showcase the progress they were making in the vocation of printing and in learning English. Townsend's apprenticeship in Carlisle's print shop afforded him the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of publishing. His experience printing and editing the School News prepared him for his career as a printer for the Chippeway Herald at the White Earth Boarding School in Minnesota and later as the night foreman for the Daily Oklahoma State Capital. ("Educated Indians" 5; Littlefield and Parins, American Indian 101, 317, 320, 335–37)

Letter by an Apprentice, 1880

This is a very pleasant morning; the sun is shining very bright.

In this school there are many different tribes going to school. Some of these boys are learning to read and write very fast. And another thing they are learning they can make a speech in the chapel.

I am learning how to print papers. Every morning and evening I go there to the printing office and work a little and when the school bell rings I go to school. I am both trying to read and write well. I can set one stick full in a day. I like the trade I am learning.

[A] few days ago Sioux chiefs were here to see their children at Carlisle School. They were very glad to see them, and were glad to see so many different tribes.

Luther Standing Bear (Oglala Sioux)

Luther Standing Bear (1868–1939), who originally bore the name Ota K'te, meaning "Plenty Kill," was born in South Dakota. He was one of the first pupils to enter Carlisle in 1879. While there he learned the tinner's trade. He left Carlisle in 1885 and lived at or near the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations, working as clerk, teacher, rancher, and lay minister. He joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West show in 1902. In 1905 he was chosen chief of the Oglala Sioux. He became an Indian actor with the Thomas Ince Studio in Hollywood in 1912 and appeared in several silent films and grade-B Westerns.

He launched his literary career in the late 1920s, publishing four books in six years: My People the Sioux (1928), My Indian Boyhood (1931), Land of the Spotted Eagle (1933), and Stories of the Sioux (1934). His earlier writings, including the two letters he published in the School News reprinted here, reflect his embrace of the assimilationist teachings of Carlisle. His later works, especially his 1931 essay "The Tragedy of the Sioux," take a far more critical view of government boarding schools such as Carlisle, which he considered to be "a curse and a blight" for Indians. (Hale, "Acceptance," 25–41; Littlefield and Parins, Biobibliography: Supplement, 288; Peyer, American Indian Nonfiction, 399–400; blight quote from Standing Bear, Land of the Spotted Eagle, 268)

Letter on Baltimore, 1881

Luther Standing Bear gives us something about his visit to Baltimore.

I have something to say about Baltimore. I went there February 3rd. Great many people in Baltimore, because it is a big city. Now I will tell you what I did and saw. It is very beautiful in Baltimore, so I like to speak and play in the church.

I think those people like Indians because when our speaking was all done, I shake hands with white men and women and boys and girls. Some men said, "O, you can play. How long in Carlisle? How old are you? What is your name? Can you work?" And some boys and girls said, "I want to be your friend. Can you speak English?" I said no. "O, you can I guess." But I speak to them nothing. Now I am sorry for just the same as my home.

I like what we had to eat and sleep and play in piano. When I am very glad I saw the Mayor of Baltimore. He is the head man in Baltimore. Then I think he likes Indians that is the reason I was very happy to shake hand with him and I was very glad I saw him. He is very kind and nice and big house and very beautiful stone house. I like to saw it always I remember the beautiful large house he let us all see. And when I am going in the cars it was about 100 miles. Now then I will try talk to you about Indian boys and girls. You must let us try hard everything. You must not play in the school. You must not talk bad at the teachers. Always you can be good boys and girls. Now always let us try to speak English and work and write and be good and be right and let us do right everything that is best way and Capt. Pratt what he says. We must hear and do it and me too. Now I will try to do all he says.

Letter to Father, 1882

Indian Training School, Carlisle, March 31st, 1882.

Dear Father Standing Bear: —

Day before yesterday one of the Sioux boys died. His name is Alvan. He was a good boy always. So we were very glad for him. Because he is better now than he was on Earth. I think you may be don't know what I mean. I mean he has gone in heaven. Because he was a good boy everywhere. I hope you will understand exactly what I mean, and you should think that way. I want you must give up Indian way. I know you have give it up a little. But I want you to do more than that and I told you so before this. But I will say it again you must believe God, obey him and pray to Him. He will help you in the right path and He will give you what you want if you ask Him. Dear father I know it is very hard for you to do that out there. But you can try to think that way. You must try day after day until you can do it. Then you will be always happy. Now I shall say a few words about what we have done here. We are trying to speak only English nothing talk Sioux. But English. I have tried. But I could not do it at first. But I tried hard every day. So now I have found out how to speak only English. I have been speaking only English about 14 weeks now I have not said any Indian words at all. So I wish you will try to do like that after while you will go forward in which is no sorrow and no trouble. You could not do nothing if you don't believe me what I told you in this letter. So I wish dear father you must turn round and try to walk in the right way. Now dear father I would like to know if you have that store. Do you keep it yet or not? I will help you when I go back home. That is all I have to say.

Good-bye from your son.



Ida Johnson (Wyandot?), Arizona Jackson (Wyandot), and Lula Walker (Wyandot)

Ida Johnson edited the Halaquah Times, the publication of the literary society at the Seneca Indian School in the early 1870s. She was assisted by her associate Julia Robitaille (Wyandot). Only two undated handwritten issues are known to exist. Johnson was also the first "editress" of the Hallaquah. She attended Earlham College in 1883 and later became a teacher in the Indian Service.

Arizona Jackson and Lula Walker founded the Hallaquah with Ida Johnson and were associate editors for the first three issues; all three young women assumed the editorship in the March–April 1880 issue. A brief profile of Arizona Jackson is in the Letters section of this book. Although there is little biographical information known about Lula Walker, I do know that she was born in Kansas and was an older sister of Bertrand N. O. Walker. (Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center; Earlham College Bulletin, August 1916, 93; Littlefield and Parins, American Indian, 143–45)

Hallaquah Editorial, December 1879

We desire and intend that the Hallaquah shall represent the spirit of our school, and always speak in behalf of its interest. Supported directly by the Hallaquah Society, it yet is intended to be a true exponent of the Seneca, Shawnee and Wyandotte Industrial Boarding School, and a news letter to the neighboring people as well as for the pupils.

We do not aspire after "literary honors," but we expect — "to shine in our corner, — you, in yours." Interesting extracts from letters relating to our, and other Mission work will be inserted at different times. News relating to the different Missions and neighborhood will be the prime feature of this paper, and any "locals" relating to the same will be gratefully received and acknowledged.

Everything in "getting out" a paper is new to us. We never before attempted to write an editorial for printed paper or to set up a line of type, and we never before expected to make so much "pi" in so short a time and do it so easily.

We pray you — "Don't view us with a critic's eye but pass our imperfections by."

Hallaquah Editorial, January 1880

We are very much encouraged by the interest manifested in our little paper, by our friends far and near. Our exchange list is headed by the Olathe Gazette; and we have read in other papers the kind words with which it has been received. So much encouraged are we that we are induced to publish another number, hoping it will meet with as much favor if not more, than the first issue.

We publish a written number every Thursday evening. A portion of which is read at intervals, during the exercises of the literary society, and is found to be one of the best means of securing and maintaining an interest among the pupils and those who attend from the outside.

Hallaquah Editorial, February 1880

With the Matrons' help we have set up all the type for this issue and we now hope to be able before long to do all the work ourselves. News-paper making isn't play, and then it is not at all pleasant after we have done the best we can and the type are all distributed to find someone who tells us, "Why didn't you do this way, or that way it would have been so much better."

But then we have some very good friends who have told us that the last paper was better than the first one and that shall help us to try to do our best on this one.

Send us a few subscriptions; we want to buy some new type, rules, ink, and paper.

Hallaquah Editorial, March–April 1880

Our little "STAR" is still shining in its corner as bright as ever though it was a little late making its appearance before the public this month. The reason it is so late is that two of the Editors were absent; also we were late getting moved into our new Office; and now we are moved a little further from the Matron we will have more of the work to do ourselves, which of course will do us more good than harm: we are getting along so well without very much help this month that we expect to try to do all of the work alone for the next issue.

Hallaquah Editorial, May 1880

After this issue of the Hallaquah, there will be but one more number of this volume. We had thought that every number we had published, that the next one would be easier, but each time we find new difficulties to overcome and as two of the Editors are away this time, there is more work for one to do than usual, and that is somewhat mixed up with tonic powders, quinine, and about fifty girls to look after.


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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    
Part One: Writings by Boarding School Students
Arizona Jackson (Wyandot)     
Letter to Laura, January 1880    
Letter to the Editors, January 1881    
Letter to Susan Longstreth, February 1881    
Samuel Townsend (Pawnee)     
Letter by an Apprentice    
Luther Standing Bear (Oglala Sioux)     
Letter on Baltimore, February 1881    
Letter to Father, March 1882    
Ida Johnson (Wyandot?), Arizona Jackson (Wyandot), and Lula Walker (Wyandot)     
Hallaquah Editorial, December 1879    
Hallaquah Editorial, January 1880     
Hallaquah Editorial, February 1880     
Hallaquah Editorial, March–April 1880     
Hallaquah Editorial, May 1880     
Lucy Grey (Seneca), Arizona Jackson (Wyandot), and Bertrand N. O. Walker (Wyandot) 
Hallaquah Editorial, January 1881     
Hallaquah Editorial, February 1881     
Hallaquah Editorial, March 1881     
Hallaquah Editorial, April 1881     
Hallaquah Editorial, May 1881     
Hallaquah Editorial, August, September, October, and November 1881     
Samuel Townsend (Pawnee)     
School News Editorial, June 1880    
School News Editorial, July 1880    
School News Editorial, August 1880    
School News Editorial, October 1880    
School News Editorial, December 1880    
School News Editorial, January 1881     
School News Editorial, February 1881     
Annie Lovejoy (Sioux), Addie Stevens (Winnebago), James Enouf (Potawatomi), and Frank Hubbard (Penobscot)     
Our Motto Changed, Talks and Thoughts Editorial, January 1892     
Henry Caruthers Roman Nose (Southern Cheyenne)     
An Indian Boy’s Camp Life, 1880     
Roman Nose Goes to New York, 1880     
Roman Nose Goes to Indian Territory, 1880     
Experiences of H. C. Roman Nose, 1880     
Experiences of H. C. Roman Nose, on Captain Pratt, 1881    
Experiences of H. C. Roman Nose, on Going to Hampton, 1881     
Experiences of H. C. Roman Nose, on Getting an Education,1881     
Mary North (Arapaho)     
A Little Story, 1880     
Joseph Du Bray (Yankton Sioux)     
Indians’ Accustoms, 1891     
How to Walk Straight, 1892     
The Sun Dance, 1893     
Robert Placidus Higheagle (Standing Rock Sioux)     
Tipi-iyokihe, 1895     
Samuel Baskin (Santee Sioux)     
What the White Man Has Gained from the Indian, 1896     
Alonzo Lee (Eastern Band Cherokee)     
The Trail of the Serpent, 1896     
Indian Folk-Lore, 1896     
An Indian Naturalist, 1897     
Transition Scenes, 1899     
Anna Bender (White Earth Chippewa)     
A Glimpse of the Old Indian Religion, 1904     
An Indian Girl in Boston, 1904     
Elizabeth Bender (White Earth Chippewa)     
From Hampton to New York, 1905     
J. William Ettawageshik (Ottawa)     
My Home Locality, 1909     
Caleb Carter (Nez Percé)     
Christmas Among the Nez Percés, 1911     
How the Nez Percés Trained for Long Distance Running, 1911     
Short Stories and Retold Tales    
Joseph Du Bray (Yankton Sioux)     
A Fox and a Wolf: A Fable, 1892     
Harry Hand (Crow Creek Sioux)     
The Brave War-Chief and the Ghost, 1892     
A Buffalo Hunt, 1892     
The Story Teller, 1893     
The Adventures of a Strange Family, 1893     
Chapman Schanandoah (Oneida)     
How the Bear Lost His Tail: An Old Indian Story, 1893     
Robert Placidus Higheagle (Standing Rock Sioux)     
The Brave Deaf and Dumb Boy, 1893     
The Legend of Owl River, 1895     
Samuel Baskin (Santee Sioux)     
Ite Waste, or Fair Face, 1895     
Stella Vanessa Bear (Arikara)     
An Indian Story, 1903     
How My People First Came to the World, 1903     
An Enemy’s Revenge, 1905     
Ghost Bride Pawnee Legend, 1910     
Indian Legend—Creation of the World, 1910     
Anna Bender (White Earth Chippewa)     
Quital’s First Hunt, 1904     
The First Squirrel, 1904     
The Big Dipper, 1904     
William J. Owl (Eastern Band Cherokee)     
The Beautiful Bird, 1910     
The Way the Opossum Derived His Name, 1912     
Emma La Vatta (Fort Hall Shoshoni)     
The Story of the Deerskin, 1910     
Why the Snake’s Head Became Flat, 1911     
J. William Ettawageshik (Ottawa)     
Maple Sugar Sand, 1910     
Caleb Carter (Nez Percé)     
The Coyote and the Wind, 1913     
The Feast of the Animals, 1913     
Part Two: Writings by Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Native American Public Intellectuals
Francis La Flesche (Omaha)     
Address to Carlisle Students, 1886     
The Laughing Bird, the Wren: An Indian Legend, 1900     
The Past Life of the Plains Indians, 1905     
One Touch of Nature, 1913     
Carlos Montezuma (Yavapai)     
An Apache, to the Students of Carlisle Indian School, 1887     
The Indian Problem from the Indian’s Point of View, 1898     
Civilized Arrow Shots from an Apache Indian, 1902     
The Indian Dance, 1902     
Flash Lights on the Indian Question, 1902     
How America Has Betrayed the Indian, 1903     
Charles Alexander Eastman (Santee Sioux)     
An Indian Collegian’s Speech, 1888     
Address at Carlisle Commencement, 1899     
The Making of a Prophet, 1899     
Notes of a Trip to the Southwest, 1900     
An Indian Festival, 1900     
A True Story with Several Morals, 1900     
Indian Traits, 1903     
The Indian’s View of the Indian in Literature, 1903     
Life and Handicrafts of the Northern Ojibwas, 1911     
“My People”: The Indians’ Contribution to the Art of America, 1914     
Angel De Cora (Winnebago)     
My People, 1897     
The Native Indian Art, 1907     
An Autobiography, 1911     
Gertrude Bonnin (Yankton Sioux)     
School Days of an Indian Girl, 1900     
Letter to the Red Man, 1900    
A Protest Against the Abolition of the Indian Dance, 1902     
Laura Cornelius Kellogg (Oneida)    
Indian Public Opinion, 1902    
John Milton Oskison (Cherokee)     
The Outlook for the Indian, 1903     
The Problem of Old Harjo, 1907     
The Indian in the Professions, 1912     
Address by J. M. Oskison, 1912     
An Indian Animal Story, 1914     
Arthur Caswell Parker (Seneca)     
Making New Americans from Old, 1911     
Progress for the Indian, 1912     
Needed Changes in Indian Affairs, 1912    
Henry Roe Cloud (Winnebago)     
Education of the American Indian, 1915     
Elizabeth Bender (White Earth Chippewa)     
Training Indian Girls for Efficient Home Makers, 1916     
A Hampton Graduate’s Experience, 1916     

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