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Indian School on Magnolia Avenue

Voices and Images from Sherman Institute

Clifford E. Trafzer, Matt Sakiestewa Gilbert, and Lorene Sisquoc

Publication Year: 2012

The first collection of writings and images focused on an off-reservation Indian boarding school, The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue shares the fascinating story of this flagship institution, featuring the voices of American Indian students.

In 1902, the federal government opened Sherman Institute in Riverside, California, to transform American Indian students into productive farmers, carpenters, homemakers, nurses, cooks, and seamstresses. Indian students helped build the school and worked daily at Sherman; teachers provided vocational education and placed them in employment through the Outing Program.

Contributors to The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue have drawn on documents held at the Sherman Indian Museum to explore topics such as the building of Sherman, the school’s Mission architecture, the nursing program, the Special Five-Year Navajo Program, the Sherman cemetery, and a photo essay depicting life at the school. 

Despite the fact that Indian boarding schools—with their agenda of cultural genocide— prevented students from speaking their languages, singing their songs, and practicing their religions, most students learned to read, write, and speak English, and most survived to benefit themselves and contribute to the well-being of Indian people.

Scholars and general readers in the fields of Native American studies, history, education, public policy, and historical photography will find The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue an indispensable volume.

Published by: Oregon State University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue: Voices and Images from Sherman Institute is a work born of several research projects created by historians studying public and Native American history at the University of California, Riverside, and Sherman Indian Museum. The Museum is located on the campus of the old Sherman...

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Introduction: The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue

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pp. 1-18

In the early twentieth century, American Indian students entered Sherman Institute from Magnolia Avenue in Riverside, California. They followed a driveway that ran south, traveling uphill onto campus. Before the students, several date palms swayed in the wind. In the heart of campus stood a tall flagpole, each day bearing...

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Chapter 1: From Perris Indian School to Sherman Institute

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pp. 19-34

On July 18, 1901, a large crowd of “ladies and gentlemen” met near the corner of Magnolia Avenue and Jackson Street in Riverside, California. On that bright summer day, several dignitaries gathered to lay the cornerstone for a new Indian Industrial School to be named Sherman Institute—not after General William Tecumseh Sherman but...

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Chapter 2: Mission Architecture and Sherman Institute

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pp. 35-64

Space and place shape our understanding of the world and ourselves. How we manipulate the environment can exert a powerful influence on how people relate to one another. Throughout the long and tragic history of attempts to assimilate Indians in the United States, reformers, politicians, soldiers, and everyday citizens have sought...

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Chapter 3: Selling Patriot Ondians at Sherman Institute during World War I

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pp. 65-80

The United States entered World War I in 1917. Although President Woodrow Wilson had promised the nation neutrality, the United States entered the war with great fanfare and patriotism. Since others in American society opposed U.S. involvement in the war, the U.S. government created the Creel Committee to coordinate...

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Chapter 4: Healing Touch: The Nursing Program at Sherman Institute

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pp. 81-105

At Sherman Institute nurses constituted both the strongest and weakest components of medical care. Nurses provided the majority of patient care on a daily basis, but it was difficult at first to find and retain nurses who were both competent and could manage the heavy workload. Turnover was high and long-term stability was...

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Chapter 5: Labored Learning: The Outing System at Sherman Institute, 1902-1930

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pp. 107-136

Just after sunset on June 5, 1925, Dick Foinill jumped down from the bed of an oversized truck and touched his feet to the dusty Kansas soil for the first time. Foinill and twenty-four Navajos from near Tuba City, Arizona, had just completed a long journey crowded shoulder-to-shoulder into the bed of a pickup. For five days and...

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Chapter 6: A curriculum for Social Change: The Special Navajo Five Year Program, 1946-1961

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pp. 137-158

During the period from 1946 to 1961, the United States government altered the flow of resources related to American Indian education, increasing the proportion directed to boarding schools while cutting funds to reservation day schools. This dramatic policy reversal occurred due to the purported ineffectiveness of the Indian New Deal...

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Chapter 7: Unforgettable Lives and Symbolic Voices: The Sherman School Cemetery

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pp. 159-172

Lorene Sisquoc sat on a bench at the east end of Sherman Indian School Cemetery, the sun setting slowly behind her. A cool October breeze blew through the cemetery from the Pacific Ocean fifty miles away. The whirling wind stirred up tiny, broken, brittle leaves of the black and red sage, white sage, and the leaves of an elderberry...

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Chapter 8: Images of Sherman Institute

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pp. 173-207

The vault at the Sherman Indian School Museum contains over ten thousand images, a treasure trove of photographs that offer snapshots of life at the school from 1902 to 2012. The historic school in Riverside, California, existed to transform Native people of different ages, and school officials took many photographs to document...

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Conclusion: An Open Vault

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pp. 209-213

On a warm October day in 2004, I drove my car south on Magnolia Avenue in Riverside and made my way to Sherman Indian High School for the Sherman Indian Museum Open House. The event was a festive occasion, as alumni from across the nation came together to remember their school days and visit with old friends. Outside...

About the Authors

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pp. 214-215


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pp. 216-224

E-ISBN-13: 9780870716942
E-ISBN-10: 0870716948
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870716935
Print-ISBN-10: 087071693X

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 830023891
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Indian School on Magnolia Avenue

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Subject Headings

  • Sherman Institute (Riverside, Calif.) -- History.
  • Indian students -- California -- Riverside -- History.
  • School children -- California -- Riverside -- History.
  • Off-reservation boarding schools -- California -- Riverside -- History.
  • Riverside (Calif.) -- History.
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