The two group portraits, taken at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, show Chiricahua Apache boys and girls at the time of their arrival in November 1886, and four months after arriving, in March 1887.
Back row (L to R): Hugh Chee, Frederick Eskelsejah (Fred’ k Eskelsijah), Clement Seanilzay, Samson Noran, Ernest Hogee. Middle row: Margaret Y. Nadasthilah. Front row (L to R): Humphrey Escharzay, Beatrice Kiahtel, Janette Pahgostatum, Bishop Eatennah, Basil Ekarden.
John N. Choate was commissioned by the school to make portraits of the students as a public relations effort showing the success of the school in assimilating the Indians. Attended by over 12,000 Native American children from more than 140 tribes between 1879 and 1918, Carlisle was the model for nearly 150 Indian schools. Upon arrival, school officials cut the children’s hair and exchanged their clothing for uniforms. Students were given Christian names, and were punished for speaking their native languages. Note the changes in dress, hair, and skin color. This group belonged to the Chiricahua Apache tribe, whose leader, the famous Geronimo, had surrendered with his followers in September 1886, marking the end of the Apache wars. The band, including 103 children, was taken prisoner and sent to Florida; many of the children were then taken to Carlisle School.
The photographer arranged the students in the same order in the later portrait. Scholars note that the “after” portraits followed established conventions of middle-class portraiture of the period, emphasizing the civilizing mission of the school. School founder Richard Platt described this goal in an 1892 speech “all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”
Source: November 1886 photograph, National Museum of the American Indian, Washington D.C
"For 500 generations they flourished until newcomers came… much was lost; much was devalued, but much was also hidden away in the hearts of the dispossessed…
…Their voices insist upon a hearing and the cumulative wisdom of their long residence in this land offers rich insights to those willing to listen. The challenge now is to find a way to make knowledge of the ancient traditions, the experience of change and the living reality accessible and available…”
~ excerpt from Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest: An Introduction by David M. Buerge