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[graphic] Pipestone Indian School
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[photo] Pipestone Indian School Superintendent's House
Courtesy of Lorraine Draper


The Pipestone Indian School Superintendent's residence, built in 1907, is significant in Minnesota history for its association with federal policies towards American Indians, particularly the role the United States' government played in attempting to assimilate Indians through policies in education. This building is a rare remnant from what was once a sprawling farm campus that had over 60 buildings and a capacity for about 400 students. From 1886 to 1887 a dramatic shift occurred in federal Indian policy. The Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 emphasized assimilation of Indians into mainstream American culture, and the educational system was an integral part of this new policy. The federal government believed that boarding schools, like that established in Pipestone in the 1890s, were advantageous because the government could maintain greater control over the Indians during their education. Boarding schools could also be more successful in overcoming the Indian's cultural ties. Not surprisingly, many parents of the Indian youth strongly objected to this new compulsory educational policy that would take their children from them and their culture. They resented the development of a school system without their consent or advise, and the attempt to assimilate their children at the cost of removing them from their traditional cultures.


[rotating photos] Historic images of the Indian School from a distance and view of the Superintendent's House (house on the left), c.1900
Courtesy of Pipestone County Museum and National Register Collection

In 1892, the first Pipestone Indian School building was finished. Children began arriving from all over the Midwest from such tribes as the Dakota, Oneida, Pottawatomie, Arickarree, Sac and Fox. As was typical of federal Indian vocational schools, students usually spent half their day in the classroom and the other half learning occupations such as farming, blacksmithing, masonry, carpentry, cooking, baking, and nursing. The training of students in these industrial skills was resented by many Indians who saw this essentially as menial chores.

As government programs changed, funding decreased, and the role of the Indian school diminished until 1953 when the school was closed. When Southwestern Vocational Technical Institute opened in 1976, nearly all of the original Indian School buildings were removed or destroyed. However, the Superintendent's Residence survived and was used as a private residence until 1983. Since that time the building has been the property of Minnesota West Community College (although the name has been changed several times) and used for storage.

The Superintendent's House is located on the campus of Minnesota West Community College on N. Hiawatha Ave., Pipestone and is not open to the public.

[graphic] Link to essay on Pipestone County History [graphic] Link to essay on Downtown Revitalization[graphic] Link to essay on Pipestone: The Rock

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