FEMALE NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENT AT THE CARLISLE INDIAN SCHOOL IN CARLISLE, PENNSYLVANIA

native amer woman_0008The reverse of this photograph has an inscription and is signed by the subject. The young woman in this image is Amy Dalphus and the inscription states “to sister “Phillips” from sister “Beaver” Remember the day this was taken”. Miss Dalphus is well dressed and attractive in her coat, hat, and leather gloves. The photographer of this image was Hertsler whose studio was located in Carlisle. Research reveals that Amy E. Dalphus was from the Sioux tribe in South Dakota. She graduated from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1903. She is cited in the book “A Biobibliography of Native American Writers, 1772-1924: A Supplement”by Littlefield and Parins (1985). Next to her name is the following: “Red Man and Helper, February 20-27, 1903″. Perhaps she wrote an article for this magazine or maybe her graduation is listed in the magazine’s pages. Research found little information about Miss Dalphus. Her name was listed on a number of annual “Indian Census” reports from the turn of the century. The “Indian Census” of 1896 reported her to be living in South Dakota with her step mother (Mrs. Moore)  and three brothers and a sister. She lived under the auspices of the “Cheyenne River Agency”. The 1900 US census found her living in Carlisle as a student.The story of the Carlisle Indian school is an example of well meaning people committing terrible deeds in an effort to help others. It is important to realize that not everyone involved in this school, and others like it, were actually well intentioned. The Carlisle school operated from 1879 through 1918 as a boarding school founded by Captain Richard Henry Pratt. The school was part of the effort of the US government to assimilate children from 39 tribes into the majority culture. This was an effort to “civilize the Indian”. Pratt saw his task as similar to his experience with the “domestication of wild turkeys”. He believed his mission was the “annihilation of the Indian and his salvation as an American Citizen”. Pratt’s goal was to “kill the Indian in him, and save the man”. Many children were subject to this assimilation project. During some years, the school had as many as a thousand students a year. In addition, there were other schools engaged in the same endeavor. The students were forced to take English names to replace their given tribal names. This was very difficult for the students to accept because their tribal names had personal meanings that reflected their experiences or relationships. In the inscription on the reverse of this photograph, Amy Dalphus refers to herself as “Beaver” alongside her English name. Perhaps this is an effort by her to not surrender her tribal name. The Carlisle school became well known for its athletic programs. Coach Pop Warner and the talented athlete, Jim Thorpe, received national attention. More people are aware of Carlisle’s sports prowess than the actual abuse and racism that permeated the concept and operation of the school.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Beautiful portrait.

  2. Very interesting and important note with that portrait.


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