After the 1900s many returned Cheyenne students from Carlisle, Chemava, Phoenix and other Indian boarding schools and those attending boarding schools on the Cheyenne and Arapaho old reservation were attempting to enter public schools in western Oklahoma near their homes. For some years after 1900 the public schools and white settlers, homesteaders and officials in charge at different public school districts openly refused to allow Indian children to go to white schools.
In March of 1907 Emma Gard, County Superintendent of Schools for Blaine County, Watonga, Oklahoma, wrote Charles E. Shell, Agent at the Cheyenne and
Arapaho Agency stating that;
She did not like the idea of Indian children attending public schools with whites. She did not consider it wise since T.B. was so prevalent among the Indians. Another reason was that the school did not draw territorial school money for Indian students. Also that the school at Watonga did allow some Indian students to attend and the attendance was irregular.
In April of 1907 W.C. Bickford, Superintendent of Canadian County Schools aired his complaint to the effect of Blaine County that Indian students should pay
tuition since they were wards of the government. (this letter never mentioned that when the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes lost their reservation to the open land run
of homeless settlers in 1892 seeking homesteads on the land owned by the tribes that many acres of the reservation were set aside for public schools for the
education of students and no where does the treaty agreement stipulate that Indian students could not attend public schools established on lands they gave up for
In Dec. 1908, R.F.D.3, Calumet, Oklahoma, S.S.T. Lacy, Clerk of Dist. No. 100, wrote Agent Shell at Darlington that as a member of the school board, he felt his
duty to inform Shell that there was complaints that Indian children had lice, felt it was powerless to have the children cleaned up, the school was in danger of being
broken up because of this, and in the interest of peace and harmony that all the Indian children be removed from the school. He hoped the Agent would take
immediate action to this.
In a January 1909 letter again to Shell, Lacy stated that all the Indian students had quit the Calumet school and were going back to the government boarding school.
To be sure Lacy was going to the Cheyenne camp and find out.
In Feb. of 1910, Indian children in School Dist. No 103, Watonga, Oklahoma, were cited again in a letter to Agent Freer, from the Additional Farmer for the
Watonga area that at various times within the past month complaints have come in to me from the school board and the patrons of school Dist. no. 103 that Indian
children were unclean, some still live in tepees and a clean tepee is rare. The most serious complaint was that white school children attending school with Indian
children get lice and kindred vermin. This would not be tolerated by the whites.
For the month of October 1911 at the Fonda (Dewey County) area shows statistics of Cheyenne Indian pupils in public school as name and age to be:
Mary Big Nose, 15
May De Brae, 9
Julia De Brae, 9
Eva Little horse, 12
Annie Long Sioux, 18
Ruth Medicine Chips, 14
Fanny Turtle, 13
Noah Black Horse, 11
John De Brae, 14
John Medicine Chips, 17
George Preston, 11
William White Man, 11
Joseph White Man, 9
John White Rabbit, 17
Warren White Rabbit, 9.
In 1912 E.B. Reay, Supt. of Public Instruction, Dewey County, wrote Agent West, Cantonment Agency, that white people are sometimes unwilling to have Indian
children attend white schools saying they are "lousy" and eat "dead cows" etc.
Finally in Sept. of 1915 a Circular No. 1014, to the Commissioner of the Indian affairs in Washington, from Supt. Dunn at the Red Moon School in Hammon,
Sir; Regarding placing of indian children in public schools, I wish to state that they are not cleanly enough and the settlers object to even eating at a
table with an Indian.
Text Copyright (c) 2005 Sipes/Berthrong Cheyenne Coll. Cheyenne Boarding School Files.