To Educate American Indians


To Educate American Indians

Selected Writings from the National Educational Association’s Department of Indian Education, 1900–1904

Edited and with an introduction by Larry C. Skogen
Foreword by David Wallace Adams

Indigenous Education Series

406 pages
6 photographs, 1 illustration, 1 table, index


February 2024


$75.00 Pre-order

About the Book

To Educate American Indians presents the most complete versions of papers presented at the National Educational Association’s Department of Indian Education meetings during a time when the debate about how best to “civilize” Indigenous populations dominated discussions. During this time two philosophies drove the conversation. The first, an Enlightenment era–influenced universalism, held that through an educational alchemy American Indians would become productive, Christianized Americans, distinguishable from their white neighbors only by the color of their skin. Directly confronting the assimilationists’ universalism were the progressive educators who, strongly influenced by the era’s scientific racism, held the notion that American Indians could never become fully assimilated. Despite these differing views, a frightening ethnocentrism and an honor-bound dedication to “gifting” civilization to Native students dominated the writings of educators from the NEA’s Department of Indian Education.

For a decade educators gathered at annual meetings and presented papers on how best to educate Native students. Though the NEA Proceedings published these papers, strict guidelines often meant they were heavily edited before publication. In this volume Larry C. Skogen presents many of these unedited papers and gives them historical context for the years 1900 to 1904.

Author Bio

Larry C. Skogen is president emeritus of Bismarck State College, an independent historian, and a retired member of the U.S. Air Force. He is the author of Indian Depredation Claims, 1796–1920. David Wallace Adams is a professor emeritus of education at Cleveland State University and the author of Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875–1928.


“The National Education Association is a voice for education professionals and dedicated to preparing students for success in a diverse and interdependent world. That doesn’t mean, however, that the NEA hasn’t made mistakes and missteps along the way. With this important work, Larry Skogen provides a window into a time when the federal government forced a curriculum upon Native American students that subjugated them into a marginalized role in our country. The papers of the NEA Department of Indian Education (1900–1904) reveal the association’s role in advancing this harm. This critical study is a reality check for all Americans to learn our true history so that we better understand the mistakes of our past, can be a part of repairing harm, and can be agents of change to make a better future for all of our students and communities.”—Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association

“As our nation struggles with the realities of the Indian boarding school experience, it is important that we understand the motives and educational philosophies of those who administered and worked at those schools. In this groundbreaking work, Larry Skogen provides us with the story of the Indian service educators when they were part of the National Educational Association. Through these selected papers, we get a firsthand account of their efforts to assimilate Native students forcibly into white society. One cannot read these papers without feeling a sense of shame at the educators’ attitudes toward their own Native students. But it is important history that we need to acknowledge.”—Byron L. Dorgan, former U.S. Senator and chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, author of The Girl in the Photograph

“This is important work to enhance the body of knowledge on behalf of Indian Country and our future generations.”—Leander “Russ” McDonald (Dakota/Arikara), president of United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota

“Where historians have used the tools of social history to examine the lives of employees in the Indian schools, Skogen’s work uses an intellectual lens to demonstrate how these workers drove important changes in curriculum and policy. This detailed and nuanced work helps to untangle the genocidal roots of boarding school systems and to see more clearly the challenges that Native people faced in moving their communities and cultures through the difficult years of the early twentieth century.”—Kevin Whalen, author of Native Students at Work: American Indian Labor and Sherman Institute’s Outing Program 1900–1945

“These NEA Indian Department presentations, which Larry Skogen does a masterful job of editing, provide an important window into how many people in the United States thought about American Indians and American Indian education in the beginning of the twentieth century. Skogen has done a remarkable job providing the reader with background information, both in his introduction to each document and in the extensive notes and references he provides.”—Jon A. Reyhner, author of American Indian Education: A History

Table of Contents

Gallery of Images
Chapter 1: Charleston, South Carolina: July 7-13, 1900
What is the Relation of the Indian of the Present Decade to the Indian of the Future?
Rev. H. B. Frissell, Principal of Hampton Normal and Industrial Institute
The Indian Problem
Rev. H. B. Frissell, Principal of Hampton Normal and Industrial Institute
The Proper Relation between Literary and Industrial Education in Indian Schools
A. J. Standing, Assistant Superintendent, Carlisle Indian School
The Training of Teachers for Indian Schools
Charles Bartlett Dyke, Hampton Institute
Teaching Trades to Indians
Mr. F. K. Rogers, Hampton Institute
The Training of the Indian Girl as the Uplifter of the Home
Miss Josephine E. Richards, Hampton Normal and Industrial Institute
Practical Methods of Indian Education
Mr. John Seger, Superintendent of Seger Colony School
Chapter 2: Detroit, Michigan: July 8-12, 1901
President’s Address—Learning By Doing
Rev. H. B. Frissell, Principal of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, Hampton, Va
Civilization and Higher Education
William T. Harris, Commissioner of Education, Washington, D. C
The Reservation Day School Should Be The Prime Factor in Indian Education
C. C. Covey, Teacher, Pine Ridge Indian School, S. D
The Unification of Industrial and Academic Features of the Indian School
Professor O. H. Bakeless, Indian School, Carlisle, PA
What Shall Be Taught in an Indian School?
Calvin W. Woodward, Director of the Manual Training School of Washington University, St. Louis, Mo
An All-Around Mechanical Training for Indians
Frank K. Rogers, Director of the Armstrong-Slater Memorial Trade School, Hampton, Va
Practical Methods of Indian Education
Joseph W. Evans, Teacher, Indian School, Chilocco, Okla
Character Building Among Indian Children
Miss Cora M. Folsom, Hampton Institute, Hampton, Va
The Day School—The Gradual Uplifter of the Tribe
Sister Macaria Murphy, Teacher, Odanah Day School, Wisconsin
The Necessity for a Large Agricultural School in the Indian Service
C. W. Goodman, Superintendent of Chilocco Indian School, Oklahoma
Chapter 3: Minneapolis, Minnesota: July 7-11, 1902
President’s Address
S. M. McCowan, Superintendent, Chilocco Indian Agricultural School, Chilocco, Okla
The Value of an Agricultural School in the Indian Service
S. M. McCowan, Chilocco Indian School, Oklahoma
The Value of the Outing System for Girls
Miss Laura Jackson, Girls’ Manager, Carlisle School, Pennsylvania
What is Our Aim?
E. A. Allen, Assistant Superintendent, Carlisle School, Pennsylvania
Needed Changes in Indian Schools
A. O. Wright, Supervisor of Indian Schools, Washington, D. C
The Value of Day Schools
James J. Duncan, Day-School Inspector, Pine Ridge, S. D.
Newspapers in Indian Schools
Hon. W. T. Harris, United States Commissioner of Education
Chapter 4: Boston, Massachusetts: July 6-10, 1903
President’s Address—Our Work: Its Progress and Needs
 H. B. Peairs, Superintendent of Haskell Institute, Lawrence, Kan
To What Degree Has the Present System of Indian Schools Been Successful in Qualifying for Citizenship?
H. B. Frissell, Principal of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, Hampton, Va
Alaska’s Start Toward Citizenship
Sheldon Jackson, General Agent of Education In Alaska, Washington, D. C
The White Man’s Burden Versus Indigenous Development for the Lower Races
G. Stanley Hall, President of Clark University, Worcester, Mass
Heart Culture in Indian Education
Charles F. Meserve, President of Shaw University, Raleigh, N. C
Tenure in the Civil Service
John T. Doyle, Secretary of the United States Civil Service Commission
Chapter 5: St. Louis, Missouri: June 27-July 1, 1904
Efficiency in the Indian Service
Dr. John T. Doyle, Secretary of the United States Civil Service Commission, Washington, D. C
Indian Music and Indian Education
 Miss Natalie Curtis, New York City
What’s in a Name?
Miss Emily S. Cook, Office of Indian Affairs, Washington, D. C.
Indian Names
Miss Alice C. Fletcher, Ex-President of the Anthropological Society, Washington, D. C

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