[graphic] National American Indian Heritage Month, National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service[graphic] N P S arrowhead, a link to the N P S website

[graphic] November 2004


[photo]
Chilocco Indian Agricultural School
Photo courtesy of Jim Gabbert, Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office

Founded in 1883-84, the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School was one of the first, large off-reservation boarding schools established by the Federal government for the education of American Indian students. It offered academic and vocational training to children of tribes across the United States. Its mission of assimilation and acculturation matured as advances in educational theory and relations between the Federal government and the tribes improved. The campus, abandoned as a school in 1980, embodies in its buildings and layout the philosophy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs policies. It is the best preserved of all the significant non-reservation American Indian schools established.

[photo]
Hayworth Hall
Photo courtesy of Jim Gabbert, Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office

Locally quarried limestone was used in the vast majority of the campus buildings. Built over several decades, the different stylistic elements of the campus buildings represent different eras of the school's history. However, the consistent use of limestone provides a unity of design and visual cohesion. The first students at the school where Cheyenne, Arapaho and Kiowa children. Agriculture was the central focus of the school. By 1910, more than 500 students were attending the school and the academic program of the school was improved as the school sought accreditation. By 1927, a full course of accredited classes through grade 12 were offered. Physical education and vocational programs including carpentry, masonry, printing, domestic science, agriculture and stock raising were also offered.


[photo]
Leupp Hall
Photo courtesy of Jim Gabbert, Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office
A large number of the male students served in World War II, and a unit of the Oklahoma National Guard Unit (Company C, 180th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division) was established at the school. At the end of World War II, an influx of Navajo students came to the school, most of whom spoke no English and were segregated to accelerate their progress. By the 1950s, enrollment at Chilocco reached nearly 1,300, with a student body that represented tribes from coast to coast, including Alaska.

[photo]
Girls Dormitory
Photo courtesy of Jim Gabbert, Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office

Beginning in the 1960s, cultural changes in society and the programs of the Indian Service led to a decline in the school. Indian boarding schools were viewed as archaic by many. The U.S. Senate recommended the closing of Chilocco in 1979. Although the buildings have been used for various purposes since the closing of the school, currently the buildings are vacant.

For further information, visit the Chilocco Indian School Alumni Association.

 

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