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Timeline / Defining Rights and Responsibilities / 1898: Boarding-school epidemics sicken students and kill many

1898: Boarding-school epidemics sicken students and kill many

The superintendent of the Fort Hall Industrial Boarding School in Idaho, George Gregory, advises in a letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Thomas Jefferson Morgan, that a “great deal of sickness” and the “large number of deaths” are making Indian parents reluctant to enroll their children at schools intended to “civilize” them.

“On this account the new education of American Indians as it has been founded in recent years by devoted men and women undertakes to solve the problem of civilizing them by a radical system of education not merely in books, nor merely in religious ceremonies, but in matters of clothing and personal cleanliness, matters of dietary and especially in habits of industry.” —Commissioner of Indian Affairs Thomas Jefferson Morgan

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

Navajo children at school in New Mexico, ca. 1890s.

Courtesy Indian Health Service/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services