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Carlisle Indian Industrial School Ladies Shoe

Carlisle Indian Industrial School Ladies Shoe

These Victorian ladies shoes were made around 1880 by students at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. The ladies shoes and an Indian-school-made sidesaddle were commissioned for show at the 1876 Centennial Exposition by Carlisle Superintendent Pratt (and later given by him to the Smithsonian), as evidence that the government s policies of assimilation and civilization were working.
Between 1819 and 1972, thousands of Indians were sent from their homes to mission schools and often forced into federal boarding schools. The schools mission was to kill the Indian and save the Man, according to the founder of the military-style Carlisle Indian Industrial School and Hampton Institute, Capt. Richard Pratt. Ordered to give up their language, subsistence, and religious practices, along with their savage clothes and hairstyles, Indian students were made to wear citizen clothing, work, farm, keep houses, and attend Christian churches. Most were trained in the civilized trades, such as carpentry, cobblery, and dress-making, and were not allowed to pursue Native arts. By the 1930 s, the government had gradually let go of some of its most culturally repressive policies in the schools. From the 1960 s on, the movement for tribal sovereignty restored tribal people s control of their children s education. A majority of Indians moved to public schools, old federal schools were closed, and most Bureau of Indian Affairs schools on reservations and pueblos were converted to tribally-controlled institutions. In these schools, students live at home; curriculum and school policy support Native cultural arts and language learning, as well as mainstream skills in literacy, math, science, and technology.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Carlisle Indian Industrial School
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Carlisle
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
cotton (instep material)
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Captain R. H. Pratt
Native Americans
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Costume
Clothing & Accessories
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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