By William C. Kashatus

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1 Pennsylvania, the place that Charles A. Bender would call home for the rest of his life, had quite a different Indian history from his native state of Minnesota. Long before English colonizer William Penn and the Quakers arrived in 1682, Pennsylvania was the domain of the Lenni Lenape (“Original People”), who lived in small bands along the tributaries of the Delaware River to the Delaware Bay and eastward to the Atlantic Ocean. Called the “Delawares” by white settlers, the Lenape numbered about 5,000 and survived by planting corn and beans and fishing during the spring and summer months.

10 When Pratt applied to several schools seeking admission for those former prisoners who wanted to continue their education, however, his efforts were rejected. ”11 Pratt, who was beginning to flatter himself that he was a reformer, had found a purpose for his life and pursued the goal of Indian education with the zeal of a campfire preacher. Appealing to Samuel Chapman Armstrong, the founder of Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia, he secured the admission of seventeen former prisoners in April 1878.

15 While it may seem ironic that the children of the Sioux were selected to attend the school when more malleable minds could have been recruited among the Kiowas, Comanches, and Cheyenne—tribes with which Pratt was more familiar—the choice reflected his personal philosophy. ”16 In other words, the ultimate success of Indian education depended on the acculturation of the white man’s fiercest enemies into the white mainstream. ”17 With such high expectations and little margin for failure, Carlisle was run like a military training camp.

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