Annotated Bibliography on the Carlisle Indian School

The focus for this assignment is the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. The following list is a collection of academic sources both centering specifically on the school itself as well as broader sources that provide contextual information about Native American off-reservation boarding schools in general. In finding these sources, I had the following goals: 1) to gain a broad understanding of the nature, purpose, and scope of these schools in America; 2) to gain an in-depth understanding of the methods and processes used by the administration of the schools and Carlisle’s school in particular; 3) to understand the experience of the Native students in the Carlisle Indian School; and 4) to learn of the legacy these schools (and the Carlisle school in particular) and the different perspectives that historians have on them today.


Adams, David W. Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995.

This text, written by David Adams, a professor of education at Cleveland State University, is a survey of the history of off-reservation boarding schools for Native Americans and an analysis of their purpose of Native assimilation to white American society. While this text does spend time discussing the Carlisle Indian School, it also provides information on other similar schools, thus providing the ability to compare the similarities and differences of these schools all across the country. As can be seen from the title, Adams takes a strong stance in his writing that these schools and those in charge of them ultimately performed cultural genocide against Native Americans through specific methods of forced assimilation of their students. However, Adams also presents various modes of resistance among the students, both while in school and after graduation, showing that they were not passive victims in the assimilation. To prove his argument and present his analysis, Adams utilizes autobiographies of both teachers and students of the schools, as well as school and county newspapers.

Churchill, Ward. Kill the Indian, Save the Man: The Genocidal Impact of American Indian Residential Schools. San Francisco: City Lights Publishers, 2004.

Churchill, a renowned scholar of Native American history and professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Colorado, explores the impact that Native American boarding schools had on Native Americans. In this book, Churchill argues that these schools should be examined within the larger context of the genocide waged against Native Americans by the US government and that they should not be viewed as merely an effort to force assimilation but to attack the culture and population of Indigenous groups. He examines the magnitude of negative effects of the schools such as alcoholism, suicides, and tribal dissolution. While Churchill does wholly devote his book to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, his text provides an opportunity to compare the impact that the school in Carlisle had on its students to the effects that are described in the book, and possibly provide new evidence to either support or counter his argument.

Fear-Segal, Jacqueline and Susan D. Rose, eds. Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Indigenous Histories, Memories, & Reclamations. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016.

This brand new book approaches the discussion of off-reservation Native American boarding schools in an entirely unique way. Specifically examining the Carlisle Indian School, the editors combine a collection of brand new research on the school with speeches, pictures, and poetry about the school from descendants of students and Native activists. This unique collaboration between scholars and non-academic Natives provides new perspectives and insight into what the experience at the Carlisle Indian School was like for the students as well as its legacy today.

Mauro, Hayes P. The Art of Americanization at the Carlisle Indian School. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2011.

This text focuses on the process of assimilating the Native students, described by Mauro as “Americanization,” at the Carlisle Indian School through an analysis of visual evidence left behind from the school. Mauro argues that the use of pseudo scientific ideas and social Darwinism was extremely important in the justification of the school’s existence as well as the development of the methods of “Americanization.” Mauro provides an interesting and unique argument in this text, presenting ideas that most other scholars of Native American off-reservation boarding schools do not focus on or even mention at all. Through the use of pictures and imagery, uncommon but extremely useful sources, he creates a connection with the students and sheds new insight on their experiences.

Walker-McNeil, Pearl L. The Carlisle Indian School: A Study of Acculturation. Washington, D.C.: The American University Press, 1979.

This dissertation by Pearl Lee Walker-McNeil, a PhD student in Anthropology at American University, provides a unique argument on the Carlisle Indian School’s “Outing System” and its effect on the strength of the assimilation of the students. Although the text is dated, its focus on primary sources from the school and Richard Henry Pratt, the school’s founder, as well as its unique argument and perspective give it some reliability and possibly value for research on the school.


Bess, Jennifer Caroline. “Casting a Spell: Acts of Cultural Continuity in Carlisle Indian Industrial School’s the Red Man and Helper.” Wicazo Sa Review 2 (2011): 13-38. Accessed October 5, 2016. [Project MUSE, EBSCOhost]

In this article, Jennifer Bass analyzes the Carlisle Indian Industrial School’s student run newspapers, The Red Man and The Helper. In her analysis, she makes the argument that although the students were forced to assimilate to White American culture and ways of life, they were not passive participants in the process. Bess points out various modes of resistance that can be seen in their writings in the newspapers, showing that despite their limitations, the students still fought to have agency over their own identity and to share their own perspectives on their situations.

Enoch, Jessica. “Resisting the Script of Indian Education: Zitkala Ša and the Carlisle Indian School.” College English 65 (2002): 117-141. Accessed October 5, 2016. [EBSCOhost]

Jessica Enoch analyzes the a more transparent mode of resistance in the writings of Zitkala Ša, a former student and teacher at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. In her autobiography and essays, Zitkala Ša openly condemns the administrators at the school, specifically the founder Richard Henry Pratt, as well as the humiliating and damaging methods of assimilation that the school adopted for its students. This analysis of Zitkala Ša’s writing provides an unprecedented level of insight into the perspective of students in the Carlisle Indian School as well as Natives who opposed the school.

Gamache, Ray. “Sport as Cultural Assimilation: Representations of American Indian Athletes in the Carlisle School Newspaper.” American Journalism 26 (2009): 7-37. Accessed October 3, 2016. [Communications & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost]

In this journal article, Ray Gamache specifically analyzes how the Carlisle Indian School used sport as a method of assimilation for its Native students. Gamache uses newspaper articles about sporting events and the school’s sports teams to argue that in these articles, the school attempted to portray its students as active participants in White American Male culture and lifestyle, thus forcing them to assimilate.

Zinc, Amanda J. “Carlisle’s Writing Circle: Boarding School Texts and the Decolonization of Domesticity.” Studies in American Indian Literatures 27 (2015): 37-65. Accessed October 4, 2016. [Project MUSE, EBSCOhost]

Amanda Zinc analyzes the specific pressures put on female students in the Carlisle Indian Industrial School through administrative writings as well as writings by the female students themselves. She argues that the school’s methods of assimilation were gendered and strongly enforced values of domesticity and White/European ideals of femininity onto its female students; however, many of these students resisted those ideas and, after graduation, went on to develop their own ideas of the home and womanhood that nuanced White/European standard for women.

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