Rows of headstones are seen at the Carlisle Barracks Post Cemetery in Pennsylvania, where nearly 200 tribal youth who died while attending the Carlisle Indian Industrial School are buried. Photo: Army National Military Cemeteries

U.S. Army looking for families of children buried at boarding school

Hundreds of tribal youth died at infamous institution in Pennsylvania
By Kevin Abourezk

The U.S. Army is seeking relatives of children who are buried at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, the country’s first government-run off-reservation boarding school.

“The Army is attempting to locate family members of the children buried at the Carlisle Barracks Post Cemetery for possible reinterment, but they are having a difficult time,” said Bryan W. Hudson, an attorney for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor, in an August 7 email to tribal advocates.

Established by Col. Richard Henry Pratt in 1879, the Pennsylvania school closed in 1918. Pratt founded the school in order to facilitate the total assimilation of Native children. Like many of its successors, Carlisle stripped Native children of all outward signs of tribal life, including the boys’ long hair, traditional clothing and tribal names. They were forced to wear standard uniforms and were given non-Native names.

The school was the only off-reservation boarding school built in the East.

Between 1880 and 1902, 25 off-reservation boarding schools were built by the Indian Bureau and eventually educated between 20,000 to 30,000 Native children. Carlisle established its cemetery by late 1879, but the school failed to keep complete records of those buried there.

The government has managed at least partial identification of 178 children.

Now the Army is seeking relatives of other children buried in the cemetery and has published a 5-page list of names of children buried in the cemetery.

It is calling on relatives of the children it has identified to contact the Army National Military Cemeteries. It is also seeking families who think they may have had ancestors buried in the cemetery to contact the Army.

The Army plans to assist tribes and families with exhumation and reinterment of remains.

Families can contact the Army at:
Army National Military Cemeteries
1 Memorial Drive
Arlington, VA 22211

Tribes and families can also send an email to:

Carlisle Cemetery
The following are a few of the names of the children who are buried at the Carlisle Barracks Post Cemetery in Pennsylvania. In some cases, military records appear to give slightly incorrect, incomplete or generic tribal affiliations of the students.

Warren Painter, Sioux. Died September 30, 1884.

Albert Jackson, Seneca. Died December 7, 1906.

Mattie Occuma, Cherokee. Died November 9, 1985.

Adam McCarthy, Modoc (listed as Madoc). Death date on headstone reads July 1883, according to a secondary document.

Ernest Knocks Off White Thunder, Sioux. Died December 14, 1880.

Harry Marmon, whose headstone reads "Pachta" but identified as Pueblo in a secondary document. Died February 8, 1890.

John Bulle, listed as "Grosventre" or Gros Ventre. Died May 7, 1891.

Edward Hensley, Winnebago, but headstone reads "Winnebaloo." Death date unknown.

Samuel Flying Horse, Sioux. Died May 11, 1893.

Federal Register Notices
Notice of Intended Disinterment (May 21, 2018)
Notice of Intended Disinterment (June 21, 2018)
Requests To Exhume and Repatriate Native American Burials From Carlisle Indian Industrial School Cemetery; Public Listening Sessions (June 2, 2016)

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