The Carlisle Indian Industrial School (1879–1918) was an Indian boarding school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Founded in 1879 by Captain Henry Pratt under the authority of the US federal government, the school was the first off-reservation boarding school, and it became a model for Indian boarding schools in other locations.

It was one of a series of 19th-century efforts by the United States government to assimilate Native American children from 140 tribes into the majority culture.

The goal of total assimilation can be summed up in the school’s slogan:

“To civilize the Indian, get him into civilization. To keep him civilized, let him stay.”

From the earliest years of the republic, United States leaders struggled with the issues of integrating Native Americans into the European-based society, which they believed was superior and bound to dominate, especially with increasing immigration.

It is estimated that more than 10,000 Native American children attended Carlisle between 1879 and 1918. Students were forbidden from speaking their own language, their hair was cut and they had to be dressed in suits, ties and corseted dresses.

They often didn’t go home for years and were taught trades, such as baking and blacksmithing, designed to give them a foothold in the white world after graduation.

Photographer John Choate took pictures of scores of Carlisle students before and after they went to the school – to demonstrate the transformation they underwent there.

Young Native American Thomas Moore, before and after assimilation, at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1887. The school was one of several federally funded boarding schools designed to immerse native children in white culture. Its stated goal: “Kill the Indian, save the man.”


Four Native American children taken in 1880, just a year after the Carlisle Indian School opened


A group of Navajo Native American students in 1882 were when they first arrived and a snap taken years later


A group of Chiricahua Apaches after arriving from a prison camp in 1887 and a later shot showing them in western-style clothes


Student known as White Buffalo soon after he arrived in Carlisle in 1881, left, and some time after dressed in a suit


The Carlisle Indian Industrial School targeted children whom Henry Pratt recruited from all over Native America

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