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Hopis at Carlisle

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“When these savages arrived at the Carlisle School they would have nothing to do with any of the other students and began to live their lives apart. As they could speak no English, they expressed their thoughts by gestures and in garbled language. In order to experiment, the authorities of the school did not order these Hopis to have their long locks of hair cut, but waited to see if their association with the advanced Indians at the school would not have some good effect upon them. In less than ten days one of the Hopis indicated by gestures that he would like to have his hair cut like the other students, and on the same day another Hopi was discovered snipping off his own locks with a hunting knife.”

The Carlisle Indian School would sometimes host important figures among the American Indian community. Often these were figures that had been vocal in their protests of the assimilation occurring in the boarding schools. In the one instance the quote above is referring to, members of the Hopi tribe who still spoke only their native language, wore their native garb, and had long hair, came to stay. The Carlisle Indian School performed a social experiment on the visiting Hopis by making the decision not to force them to cut their hair. The Red Man labels this experiment a success, declaring that the Indian’s decision to cut their hair shows a willingness to assimilate. Texts such as these were distributed to make those still clinging to Indian traditions feel like outsiders.