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Haskell Institute

Haskell Institute was one of the off-reservation boarding schools modeled after Carlisle. It was established in 1884 in Lawrence, Kansas, as the United States Indian Industrial Training School, but in 1887, the name was changed to Haskell Institute after Dudley Haskell, a U.S. Representative from Kansas, who was responsible for having the school located in Lawrence. The boys received the same military structured education as at Carlisle along with trades like blacksmithing, harness making, and farming. The trade education also served the former students in the military, as many became blacksmiths on Navy ships.

To date, about 400 students who attended Haskell have been identified as serving in the U.S. military during World War I. Haskell, like Carlisle, was also proud of its students for their service. The war news was reported regularly in the weekly school publication The Indian Leader. The weekly issues were usually four or eight pages long, while the monthly issue could be twenty-four pages or longer. Each weekly issue had a recurring column titled “History in the Making,” which featured a daily timeline of happenings during the war. It was geared toward educators interested in teaching current events. Other columns included reports from other Indian boarding schools like Hampton Institute in Virginia and Chemawa in Oregon. Under “Notes of Interest,” news of Haskell’s former students would be printed like this notice from the December 7, 1917 issue: “William Murdock and LaFront King have enlisted in the Radio Service, but will remain at Haskell until they are called to the colors.”

Haskell Institute began offering high school classes in 1927, and became Haskell Indian Junior College in 1967. In 1993, the school evolved once again to become Haskell Indian Nations University as it remains today.

Former Haskell Students in uniform, 1918Former Haskell students in uniform, 1918

Letters from Haskell Students

“My greatest disappointment is the fact that I could not get to go across, but on account of my previous knowledge of drilling acquired at Haskell I was retained here. I rose to the rank of first-class petty officer inside of five months and have now got the chance of being chief petty officer, but shall decline that as the expense for procuring uniforms for the position would not compensate me the short time I would remain in service.” John Joseph Jollie (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)

“The boys from Haskell have done their share of service over here, and Haskell can well be proud of her sons. I don’t think there was one that did not live up to Haskell’s reputation, for they are all well thought of wherever they happen to be stationed.” Luther Clements (Mechoopda)

I was here only a week when I was given a noncommissioned office. I am also drillmaster and feel at home in that, thanks to you and our dear Alma Mater for the training which we received there.  The commanding officer of our company complimented me highly on my instruction in military science.” Louis R. Caire (Wyandotte)

American Indians in WWI Centennial Commission

Contact: Erin Fehr ehfehr@ualr.edu

American Indians in World War I was created by the Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Contributors: Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr. and Erin Fehr

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