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A Culture of Uniformity

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“The appearance of the Carlisle students is everywhere favorably commented upon, partly because of the excellent physical bearing and gentlemanly conduct of our students, and because of the neat uniforms they wear.”

“The students, in their uniforms, made an excellent appearance. It has been remarked that the Carlisle student is characterized by a fine physique, and a manly and womanly bearing, which no doubt is due to the regular training which all of our students receive in physical culture.”

“The Carlisle plan is to take the Indian from his tribal surroundings and place him in environment of civilization. Removed from influences which are immoral, degrading, slovenly, and tending towards shiftlessness, the young Indian is placed in contact with others of superior tribes, amid surroundings that exemplify civilization and inspire within him the possibility of useful citizenship.” 

A student’s arrival at the Carlisle Indian School began with the stripping of their identity and individuality. A vital aspect of the assimilation process was the uniform. Carlisle in particular had rigid standards for physical presentation, holding the Indian students to the same standards as their white peers. CIIS was held up as a model boarding school experience due to this careful uniformity as well as the demanding physical and academic standards of the institution.