Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Schools among the Chickasaws in Indian Territory: The Civil War and Its Aftermath (2)

Chickasaw leaders of the post-Civil War period emphasized the importance of schooling. For example, by 1870, all parents of Chickasaw students who attended school received a stipend that included the approximate cost of boarding as well as tuition. Perhaps officials found it hard to determine if a student lived far enough away from school to justify a separate, additional stipend for room and board. At any rate, the Chickasaw Nation provided every citizen household with school-aged children the same per-child stipend, whether a student lived at school or at home. The household of every student who attended school received money to help offset the cost of room and board as well as tuition.[1]

Again, although the Chickasaws had roughly one quarter the population of the Choctaws, the Chickasaws spent more than twice as much on education. In at least one year, 1891, the Chickasaw government spent all of the interest from its funds held by the federal government for education, which amounted to $95,000, roughly $2.5 million in 2018 values.[2]

Still, the tribe struggled with the task of getting their school system running again after the war. New facilities were built in a rush, and were often small and rickety. Most of the better schools were those that used established facilities, which were nonetheless damaged or dilapidated. As late as 1897, one teacher complained, "The reason that writing has been omitted is that there is no desk or thing that can be used for desks."[3]


[1] Caroline Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws, 1856-1907," Chronicles of Oklahoma 15, no. 4 (1937): 420.

[2] Wendy St. Jean, Remaining Chickasaw in Indian Territory, 1830s--1907 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2011), 99.

[3] As quoted in Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws," 420.

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