A Blueprint for Death in U.S. Off-reservation Boarding Schools: Rethinking Institutional Mortalities at Carlisle Indian Industrial School, 1879-1918
This thesis addresses a major gap in scholarship addressing Native American off-reservation boarding schools in the United States, which to date has focused primarily on cultural loss and student experiences. Detailing off-reservation boarding schools' institutional attacks on students' language, family relations, and culture is without a doubt critical, but this thesis explores a different kind of destruction. It documents how institutionalized conditions systematically imposed by United States government employees killed large numbers of Native American students at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School between 1879 and 1918. Ancillary to disease, substandard living conditions, overcrowding, compulsory labor, physical abuse, malnourishment and dietary insufficiencies, and psychological trauma compromised the students' immune systems leaving them vulnerable to pathogens, while mitigating against recovery from illness. The result--widespread epidemics and death--warrants a thorough investigation. Using archival materials, government reports, newspapers, and personal accounts, this thesis quantifies Carlisle's demographic impact on its students, revealing that the school was far more lethal than previously known. Enrollment, desertion, sickness, and mortality figures indicate that Carlisle exhibited extremely high death rates in comparison with other comparable demographic units. More than five hundred students died at Carlisle or shortly after leaving the school. These deaths reflect dangerous conditions consciously maintained by administrators for decades.
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