The Cumberland County Historical Society has partnered with Dickinson College to present a four-day conference Oct. 4-7 to mark the 100th anniversary of the closing of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.
Titled “Carlisle Journeys: Places of Memory and the Unfolding Stories from the Carlisle Indian School,” the conference will include workshops, guest speakers, panel discussions and an art exhibit. The partnership also included the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.
The goal of the conference is to open a dialogue using descendant narratives and projects that have emerged from the boarding school and post-boarding school experience since the Carlisle school closed in 1918.
“The takeaway would be a better understanding of the impact the Carlisle school had on the lives of the families who were touched by it,” said Barb Landis, conference committee co-chair and CIIS archives and library specialist for the Historical Society. There are a number of conference events open to the public on the Dickinson College campus.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, K. Tsianina Lomawaima, a professor in Arizona State University’s School of Social Transformation, will give the commemoration keynote address in the Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, 360 W. Louther St. Her research and teaching interests include American Indian policy history, indigenous knowledge systems and American Indian education. She is the author of several books including “To Remain an Indian: Lessons for Democracy from a Century of Native American Education,” which she co-authored with Teresa McCarty.
Two other public events run concurrently from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday at the Trout Gallery in the Weiss Center for the Arts, 240 W. High St. Both involve an artist reception and lecture.
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The exhibit “Re-Riding History from the Southern Plains to the Matanzas Bay” reflects on the prequel to the Carlisle Indian School — the incarceration and mandatory acculturation of 72 Plains Indians at Fort Marion, St. Augustine, Fla. The exhibit runs through Saturday.
“Shan Goshorn: Resisting the Mission” features baskets made by Goshorn, who infuses her designs with text and imagery that address issues central to the Native American experience.
Finally, at 5 p.m. Saturday, N. Scott Momaday, a Pulitzer Prize winning author and artist, will speak at the Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium.
When it opened in October 1879, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School was the first government-funded off-reservation boarding school established to assimilate Native American youths to white culture. This flagship institution became the model for two dozen other off-reservation boarding schools across the U.S. and Canada as well as on countless Indian reservations. Many believe the doctrine driving the schools has led to intergenerational trauma among Native Americans.
During its 39 years in operation, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School enrolled about 8,000 students before it was closed in late August 1918 to make way for U.S. Army General Hospital No. 31 to care for American soldiers wounded on the Western Front in Europe during World War I.
For more information on the conference, visit the event website at journeys.historicalsociety.com.