Fort Marion Prisoners and the Trauma of Native Education

Fort Marion Prisoners and the Trauma of Native Education

Diane Glancy

136 pages
3 photographs, 9 illustrations


November 2014


$20.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

At the end of the Southern Plains Indian wars in 1875, the War Department shipped seventy-two Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Caddo prisoners from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida. These most resistant Native people, referred to as “trouble causers,” arrived to curious, boisterous crowds eager to see the Indian warriors they knew only from imagination. Fort Marion Prisoners and the Trauma of Native Education is an evocative work of creative nonfiction, weaving together history, oral traditions, and personal experience to tell the story of these Indian prisoners.

Resurrecting the voices and experiences of the prisoners who underwent a painful regimen of assimilation, Diane Glancy’s work is part history, part documentation of personal accounts, and a search for imaginative openings into the lives of the prisoners who left few of their own records other than carvings in their cellblocks and the famous ledger books. They learned English, mathematics, geography, civics, and penmanship with the knowledge that acquiring the same education as those in the U.S. government would be their best tool for petitioning for freedom. Glancy reveals stories of survival and an intimate understanding of the Fort Marion prisoners’ predicament.



Author Bio

Diane Glancy is an emerita professor of English at Macalester College and is currently a professor at Azusa Pacific University in California. She is the author of numerous novels, including Claiming Breath (Nebraska, 1992), Designs of the Night Sky (Nebraska, 2002), and The Reason for Crows: A Story of Kateri Tekakwitha.



"Glancy is not only an insightful historian but a gifted storyteller. The craft, creativity, and imagination with which she renders this amazing text powerfully draw the reader into the world of the Fort Marion prisoners. Few texts to date have portrayed their experiences with the upheavals of a changing world with such intimacy and humanism."—Steven Williams, American Studies

"A memorable book. Intuitively and perceptively connecting the difficult journeys of late nineteenth-century Southern Plains Indians and her own difficult journeys more than one hundred years later, Glancy gives us valuable, evocative ways of imagining the Great Plains and its peoples in motion, undertaking often painful and traumatic journeys to understand who they are, where they have been, and where they might be going."—Eric Gary Anderson, Great Plains Quarterly

“Diane Glancy inhabits a world of images that breathe life and voice for the voiceless men, women, and children. . . . No simple history lesson, this, as Glancy examines how language is both captor and savior, another means of imprisonment and also liberation.”—Gina Ochsner, author of The Necessary Grace to Fall

“This book is mesmerizing and will stay with you for lifetimes.”—Jackie Old Coyote, Apsaalooke Nation, former director of education and outreach at the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development


“The survival of Indian people represents one of the most important subjects in American history. Glancy creates a multilayered narrative about the Kiowa, Cheyenne, Comanche, and Arapaho Indians, who became prisoners of the United States government during the late nineteenth century. She invites readers to contemplate the bleak realities and the difficult choices presented by historical circumstances.”—Brad Lookingbill, professor of history at Columbia College of Missouri

Table of Contents


Ledger Book Drawing: The Catch, Bear’s Heart    
Fort Marion Prisoners    
Photograph of Fort Marion Prisoners    
Ride to Prison    
The Train Ride    
Ledger Book Drawing: Buffalo Hunt, Bear’s Heart    
The Animal Show    
The Morning Had a Bugle in Its Mouth    
Digging a Hole in the Water    
Ledger Book Drawing: Boarding the Steam Boat, Bear’s Heart    
Ledger Book Drawing: Chart of Goods for Sale, Buffalo Meat    
The Ax in my Hand    
Ledger Book Drawing: Military Formation at Fort Marion, Bear’s Heart    
Fort Marion    
Ledger Book Drawings (1)     
The Life Casts    
Photograph of Life Casts    
The Process of Writing (1)     
The Ocean Dogs    
Ledger Book Drawings (2)     
Ledger Book Drawing: Bishop Whipple in his Shark Suit, Bear’s Heart    
Ledger Book Drawing: The Schoolroom, Bear’s Heart    
A Snapshot of the History of Native Education    
The Testimonials (1)     
The Process of Writing (2)     
Pow Wow at the Seaside    
The Escape    
Ledger Book Drawing: Trees with Hair Standing Up, Bear’s Heart    
Trying to Walk while Holding Marbles on a Board    
I Was Herded into School with a Big Chief Tablet under My Arm    
There Were Clouds    
The Testimonials (2)     
The Letters (1)     
The Weight of Fire    
The Process of Writing (3)     
I Will Send My Choice Leopards    
Letters for Release     
Ride from Prison on a Painted Horse    
The Argument    
Captain Pratt to the Commissioners    
The Process of Writing (4)     
An Educational Experience    
Ledger Book Drawing: Crossing Eads Bridge, Bear’s Heart    
Photograph of Former Fort Marion Prisoners at Hampton Institute    

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