Friday, April 13, 2018

Schools among the Chickasaws in Indian Territory: The Civil War and Its Aftermath (3)

In the decade following the Civil War, Chickasaw students capable of high-school level work were sent to academies outside their homeland. The leadership of the Chickasaw Nation had long recognized the need to develop students who would be "competent to furnish their people with a full corps of qualified teachers and others able to fill important positions in the Nation." They provided for 60 of their best students to attend schools in the United States, and stipulated that the number was to be "equally divided between the sexes."[1]

In the meantime, the Chickasaws continued to rebuild. By 1876, a handful of schools were operating with some capacity to accommodate boarders. Bloomfield Academy, sometimes called "the Bryn Mawr of the West," housed 45 students. Wapanucka Academy, Chickasaw Male Academy, and the Orphans Home School at Lebanon could each accommodate 60 boarders.[2]

From the end of the Civil War until Oklahoma statehood, for over forty years, the Chickasaw Nation maintained control of its schools. The Chickasaws were devoted to education. By 1892, the nation owned and operated nineteen primary "neighborhood schools" and five secondary schools, including the Orphans Home School. In fact, the emphasis the Chickasaws gave to education outpaced the capacity of their schools to place students. Consequently, beginning in 1884, the C.N. passed legislation that provided for the Methodist Episcopal Church South to operate schools. In 1889, the nation contracted with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (South) to operate an academy to be named Reed's Seminary, for 40 to 60 orphan girls. And, by 1891, the Catholic Order of the Sisters of St. Francis was operating a school in the Canadian Valley.[3]


[1] Caroline Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws, 1856-1907," Chronicles of Oklahoma 15, no. 4 (1937): 421.

[2] Ibid., 421-22. Although the government shut down Chickasaw schools at Oklahoma statehood in 1907, Bloomfield Academy, though not under the control of the C.N., remained in operation until 1949. See Amanda J. Cobb, "Chickasaw Schools," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, (accessed April 13, 2018).

[3] Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws," 430-33. As Davis notes, there is some question whether Reed's Seminary ever opened. It appears to me that it did not.

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