Arizona Indian Schools

Arizona Indian Schools

At the end of the 19th century, a number of "Indian Schools" opened in Arizona following the traditions of the Carlisle Industrial School founded in 1879 in Pennsylvania. The Phoenix Indian School was run by the Federal government, and gathered students from across the state to receive an industrial or domestic education. In contrast, the Tucson Indian Training School was a contract school run by Presbyterians. Students came primarily from Pima and Papago tribes, and religious education was emphasized. By the 1920s, the Phoenix Indian School was falling into disrepair and attitudes towards American Indian education were changing. Assimilation of American Indian students was deemphasized, paving the way for the Johnson O'Malley Act in 1934 (Trennert, 1988).

Read About It

Use the document analysis sheet and the photograph analysis sheet to uncover clues about the people that created the documents. 

Understand It

  1. When were schools for American Indians founded in Arizona? Are any of these schools still operating today?
  2. How were American Indian children’s lives different at schools than at their homes?
  3. Who created the documents linked above? What was their perspective on American Indian education? Whose perspective is not represented?
  4. If you had lived in Arizona in the 1920s, would you have supported sending American Indian children to “Indian schools?” Why or why not?

Explore More

Visit the websites below to learn more. Based on this new information, have your answers to the questions above changed?

For Students

For Teachers

The Whole Story: Books About Arizona Indian Schools

Archuleta, Margaret, Brenda J. Child, and K. Tsianina Lomawaima. 2000. Away from home: American Indian boarding school experiences, 1879-2000. Phoenix, Ariz: Heard Museum.

Trennert, Robert A. 1988. The Phoenix Indian School: forced assimilation in Arizona, 1891-1935. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. 


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