Pratt Reports on State of Indian School Education to Interior Secretary

July 16, 1887

Richard Henry Pratt responds to a letter from Lucius Q. C. Lamar, Secretary of the Interior, with information about two Nez Perce students, Luke Phillips and Samuel Johns, who became ill during their second term of enrollment. Pratt notes that he believes in many cases it is better to retain students at Carlisle then send them home where he believes they receive worse medical care.

Pratt then transitions to discussing the conditions on the reservation and how he believes it would be better to retain students in off reservation schools until they are educated to a certain level then send them home to what he perceives are the difficulties of life on the reservation.

He notes that Carlisle traditionally receives students just beginning their education due to the difficulties imposed upon him by the Office of Indian Affairs including by not being able to obtain students from Pine Ridge and Rosebud despite their schools not being able to accommodate all of their students. He further states that agency teachers are able to convince students and parents to either stay on the agency school or attend Carlisle rather easily depending on their desires.

Pratt indicates that it is goal to have Carlisle graduates be at the level of the ordinary town grammar school grade along with some industrial training or comparable house work. He also comments on current Office of Indian Affairs Commissioner John D. C. Atkins taking away his ability to negotiate transportation expenses causing delays as he seeks approval from the office.

Pratt further states that reservation schools do not promote assimilation and uses the Seneca Nation as an example. The schools produce members of the Indian Nation not members of America. He cites the outing program as being a great success in promoting assimilation. He ends by commenting on the poor health conditions found in agency schools by cramming students together.

Time Period
External Groups & Institutions
National Archives and Records Administration
RG 75, Entry 91, box 429, 1887-#29929
Pratt Reports on State of Indian School Education to Interior Secretary