Cover

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Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xvi

With its long, tree-lined driveway, carefully manicured landscape, and stately Georgian buildings all surrounded by hundreds of acres of farmland, it looked more like a country estate than an Indian boarding school. The focal point of the campus was the administration building, which was at the center of a semicircle with four dormitories...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-xx

I want to thank those “survivors” of the Thomas Indian School for taking me into their confidences and sharing their life stories with me. I also want to thank the staffs of the New York State Archives, the Seneca Nation Library, and the Center for Western Studies of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for their...

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1. "An Overwhelming Majority of the Indians Are Poor, Even Extremely Poor"

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pp. 1-15

Indian boarding schools have been singled out by historians as one of the most destructive agents of the heavy-handed and clumsy federal policy of “deculturalization.” The model for this type of school was Richard Henry Pratt’s Carlisle Indian Industrial School, which was founded in 1879 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Indian children educated at those schools...

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2. "Things Fall Apart"

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pp. 16-38

When the “surveyors” who compiled the Meriam Report stopped in New York to make a brief and cursory examination of the reservations there, the conditions they found would not have differed greatly from those on the western reservations that were the focus of their report. Although the Six Nations of the Confederacy, of which the Seneca was the...

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3. Conceived in Hope, Born of Despair

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pp. 39-58

When the Thomas Asylum opened its doors, it received a steady stream of visitors, but none more notable than Susan B. Anthony, who made her way to the Cattaraugus Reservation in October 1856. That the famed suffragette should take an interest in a fledgling refuge for Indian children tucked away on a tiny reservation in western New York...

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4. "Crippled, Defective, and Indian Children"

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pp. 59-85

Although the students kept coming, the asylum’s financial circumstances and physical plant were in serious decline. The enthusiasms that brought Susan B. Anthony to its doorstep in 1856 had waned in the post–Civil War years, along with the private donations that supplemented the annual state grants of $8,500. By 1875, the institution’s future...

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5. "Up to This Day, I Ain’t Nothing"

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pp. 86-115

The state’s decision to institutionalize Indian children rather than find alternative placements and treatments had profound and long-lasting effects on the Thomas Indian School and the children it served. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the state had concluded that Indian children were different and required “specialized” treatment like the crippled...

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6. "No Place to Go"

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pp. 116-138

Failure followed many of the children when they left Thomas. Their stories were testaments to the school’s failure to fulfill the mission to elevate Indian children above the conditions that drove them to the asylum. Nor did the school succeed in ameliorating those conditions. Despite the Thomas Indian School’s failings, children continued to arrive at its...

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7. "Everyone Has Forgotten Me Though I’m Gonna Die"

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pp. 139-148

On the third Saturday of every September, they gather at the senior citizens center on the Cattaraugus Seneca Reservation in western New York. They come in wheelchairs, on walkers, or tethered to oxygen tanks. They come from the senior housing complex next door, from trailers down the road, from reservations hundreds of miles away. They...

Notes

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pp. 149-168

Bibliography

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pp. 169-178

Index

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pp. 179-190

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About the Author, Back Cover

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Keith R. Burich, PhD, is a professor of history at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. He received a BA in history from Ohio Wesleyan University, and a MA and PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He teaches Native American history and has worked among native peoples in New York, Canada, and on western reservations for more than twenty years. This book on...