Teaching Resources

The Carlisle Indian Industrial School (CIS) continues to be a major site of memory for many Native peoples across the U.S. and Canada, as well as a source of research and study for descendants, students and scholars around the globe. Tens of thousands of young people from Indian communities all across America were sent to the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania between 1879-1918. What was the purpose, the strategy, the outcome? What can we learn from the historical record of this educational experiment about the goals of its founders, the students who were sent there, the impact on their families and communities, U.S. military and domestic policy related to Indian tribes, the history of American education, about race and ethnic relations? These teaching modules and lesson plans offer secondary and post-secondary school teachers some ideas of how to explore this history and the significant role it played in American and Native American history.

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Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 records
Overview: Teaching Modules for the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center

Tens of thousands of young people from Indian communities all across America were sent to the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania between 1879-1918. What was the purpose, the strategy, the outcome? What can we learn from interrogating this historical, educational experiment about the goals of its founders, the students who were sent there, the...

Exploring the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center (CISDRC)  by Name, Nation, Time, and Place

The goal of this exercise is to explore the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center and what it has to offer. Much can be learned by searching through the primary documents, including student files and school publications – and also consulting secondary sources.

This assignment can be adapted for college or high school classes or...

Analyzing Before and After Photographs & Exploring Student Files

Under the authority of the US federal government, Carlisle was the first federally funded off-reservation Indian boarding school. Founded in 1879 by Captain Richard Henry Pratt, it enrolled over 10,500 students by the time of its closing in 1918. Pratt believed that American Indians were the equals of European-Americans, and that...

Comparing and Contrasting Arguments: Henry Ward Beecher, Sitting Bull, and Capt. Richard Henry Pratt

Captain Richard Henry Pratt, founder to the Carlisle Indian School, wanted to “civilize” and assimilate Indian children into Euro-American culture. Speaking to a convention of Baptist ministers in 1883, Pratt used the image of baptism to explain his philosophy for transforming Native children so they could be made to emulate white men and women....

Telling Lives: The Lost Ones - Analyzing a Documentary Film

They came from all over the country, from almost every nation. The Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania was the first federally funded off-reservation Indian boarding school founded in 1879 by Captain Richard Henry Pratt. Until its closing in 1918, over 10,500 children were sent to the school to become “civilized” and learn the white man’...

Letter from Elizabeth Wind (Ro-nea-we-ia) Student File

This lesson introduces students to close reading of primary and secondary documents. The focus of this close reading module is also to introduce students to aspects of history that are complex, nuanced, and controversial, such that they will be able to understand the difficulties in making concrete or objective assessments about individual experience...

Indian Allotment and Land Tenure

Documents and publications from the Carlisle Indian School offer insight into the involvement of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in other aspects of Indian life. The BIA was tasked with breaking up Indian lands and dividing them among Indian individuals and their families. The Dawes Act (The General Allotment Act) passed by Congress February 8, 1887, set...

Football Team, 1912

This teaching module will utilize primary documents from individuals who attended the Carlisle Indian School to inform a conversation about the role of athletics in the lives of the students and the institution. Using close reading techniques and qualitative approaches, students will inquire into the significance of sports in student/Native identities...

Frederick Douglass, c.1870

Lesson Essential Question:

How do the views of July 4th compare/contrast between former slaves and Indians in the late 1800’s?

Learning Goals for the Lesson:

Understand that cultural backgrounds and experiences helped to shape the various ways minority groups in America viewed the “white man’s”...

Assimilation with Education after the Indian Wars (National Parks Service)

Questions: How did the U.S. Government try to erase American Indian cultures in the late 19th century? What role did education play in forced assimilation?

Topics: This lesson could be used in middle and high school units relating to American Indian and Native American history, 19th century frontier history,...

Battalion School, c.1908

"Piecing Together the Past: Finding Student Stories in the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center" is designed as part of an 11th-12th grade course tracing American Indian history from the Precontact period until the present. It asks students to grapple with the question of the forms in which we preserve historical memory. In this lesson, each...

Application Process and Multiple Stories (By Tamara Bunnell, The Northwest School)

Context: These activities will both be part of a longer unit of study around the historical experiences, contributions, and treatment of Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. Preceding and between these activities will be lessons on the pre-European invasion culture and history of the region, PNW treaties, creation of the...

Carlisle Indian School Student Body, 1892

This lesson plan asks students to explore gender at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School by closely examining ten primary sources, including photographs, newspaper articles, and correspondence.

Exploring the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center

Grade Level: Upper Elementary/Middle School

Time Frame: 2-3 class periods, depending on the length of your classes

Objective: To familiarize students how to find people from the Nez Perce (or their own) tribe and find out what information they can obtain from the records available....

Susan Longstreth Literary Society's Room

Learning Outcomes (What will students know & be able to do as a result of this lesson?):

Students will be able to use primary sources to derive information from an image of historical significance, of how the historical image is comparable to a current image of the student.

Key Concepts & Essential...

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Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 records
Letter from Isaac Johnny John Student File

This handwriting guide will help students read cursive as they explore the site.

Cover of Carlisle Indian School: Indigenous Histories, Memories and Reclamations

This resource is an excerpt from the “Introduction” to Carlisle Indian School: Indigenous Histories, Memories and Reclamations, co-edited by J. Fear-Segal and S. Rose, University of Nebraska Press, 2016.

Richard Henry Pratt

This resource includes the full text from Capt. Richard H. Pratt's "Kill the Indian, and Save the Man" speech delivered in 1892 from History Matters at George Mason University. It also includes shorter experts to be used according to needs and reading level. Ideas expressed in Pratt's speech are central to the development of the Carlisle Indian School...

Locations of Indian Boarding Schools Throughout the United States

This map shows the location of Indian Boarding School throughout the United States.

As you move your mouse cursor over a number on the map, the name of the appropriate Indian Boarding School will appear.

Map of the Carlisle Indian School

Map of the Carlisle Indian School showing the school at its foundation in 1879 and closure in 1918 and the remianing buildings at what is now the Army War College in 2000. (This resource is provided courtesy of Dr. Jacqueline Fear-Segal.) 

Students Guarding the Front Gate, c.1905

Dickinson College faculty and students compiled this selective bibliography of primary and secondary sources about the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

Teaching Standards

The attached documents are Teaching Standards for the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center.

Analyzing Photographs and Prints

The Library of Congress and National Archives provide these resources which includes a teacher's guide and worksheet for analyzing photographs and prints. The resource will aid students in interacting with the docments and teaching resources on the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center. 

Analyzing Primary Sources

This recource includes a teacher's guide for primary source analysis and a primary source analysis tool (from the Library of Congress). It is meant as an aid to the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center teaching resources. 

Document Analysis Worksheets

The Education Staff of the National Archives and Records Administration developed document analysis worksheets for different types of material, including written documents, photographs, cartoons, posters, maps, artifacts, motion pictures, and sound recordings.

These resources will aid students in interacting with the documents and teaching...

Teacher's Guides and Analysis Tool for Various Sources

The Library of Congress provides teacher's guides and analysis tools for a variety of different materials.  These guides will aid students in interacting with the documents and resources on the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center.  Included are guides for analyzing primary sources, analyzing political cartoons, analyzing books and other...