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Timeline / Citizenship, Services, and Sovereignty / 1927: Trachoma surgery proves too dangerous

1927: Trachoma surgery proves too dangerous

The Office of Indian Affairs begins a national campaign in 1924 to eliminate the infectious eye disease trachoma from American Indian communities. For three years, doctors are urged to perform a radical eyelid surgery called tarsectomy to remedy symptoms, but in the hands of inexperienced surgeons, the procedure proves dangerous.

Federal-Tribal Relations
California, Great Basin, Great Plains, Northeast, Northwest Coast, Plateau, Southeast, Southwest

Trachoma was rampant on some reservations, afflicting whole families. A Hopi grandfather, father, and son have the disease.

Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration