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Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Carlisle: Sending childen home to die



Mary Annette Pember

George Little Wound was gravely ill when he was sent home to Pine Ridge from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1889, just three years after arriving at the notorious boarding school.

Little Wound, the son of Chief Little Wound, was among a group of three Pine Ridge students shipped home together with what the school physician described as “incipient consumption” and “scrofula,” a disfiguring infection of the skin and lymph nodes caused by the same bacteria as tuberculosis, according to Carlisle records.

All three appeared to survive their illness for some time after they returned to Pine Ridge, though Little Wound was never the same.  Forever weakened by the disease, he struggled to support himself and expressed disgust with his school experience.

“I went to [Carlisle] school to get a good education ... but I was greatly mistaken when I went to school,” he wrote in 1911, in a tersely worded survey he sent to Carlisle more than 20 years after returning home.

“I come home with sickness and do not know any thing.... and believe I may never get well from the sickness which I brought from the school,” he wrote. “I am in a miserable place and bad condition living in a one-room log home without floor where I am unable to help myself.”

Native populations across the country decreased by more than 100,000 during the early years of boarding schools, with about one third of the total Native population dying between 1860 and 1900, mostly from diseases such as tuberculosis.


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