Some children were torn from their families. Others were voluntarily sent to the Pennsylvania school by families who believed a Eurocentric education would help them succeed in America's white-dominated culture. They could not have known that many children would die, mostly from injuries or diseases.
"A lot of them just thought maybe their tribes had given up on them," said Yufna Soldier Wolf, director of the Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office in Riverton, Wyo., in an interview with Wyoming Public Radio.
Children suffered from tuberculosis, pneumonia, and the flu. They were forced to forsake their traditions and religious beliefs. Those caught speaking their native languages were beaten. Many were not allowed to return home during the summer. Others were tasked with performing menial chores in local homes.
"Kill the Indian to save the man" was the way former Cavalry officer Richard Henry Pratt, who founded Carlisle in 1879, described his philosophy.Evidence of the children's ordeals is now buried in their graves on the former school's grounds, which was closed in 1918 and today is home to the U.S. Army War College.