Eastern Band of Cherokee, Schools

Last Updated on February 9, 2013 by Dennis

Boys Dormitory, Eastern Cherokee Training School
Boys Dormitory, Eastern Cherokee Training School, Swain County, North Carolina

There are at present among the Eastern Band of Cherokees 3 schools of a common-school grade in addition to the Cherokee training school, initiated by all eminent christian scholar, Barnabas Hobbs, of Indiana, a member of the Society of Friends. There was also a grammar school in. Graham county, but it was abandoned because the children were few and scattered and several of them attended the training school.

Big Cove school is 10 miles northeast from the agency, on Ravens fork of the Ocona Lufta River. It has 2 teachers, both males, and is sustained at a cost of $819,84. There are accommodations for 60 pupils. The largest attendance during the year was 54, of whom 28 were males and 26 females, all between the ages of 6 and 18 years. The average age was 9.019; the average attendance for 1 year was 26.429; the highest average attendance for 1 month, that of January, was 36.

Birdtown school is 2.11 miles southwest from the agency, with 1 male teacher and accommodations for 30 pupils, and the whole number, viz, 13 males and 17 females, all between the ages of 6 and 18, attended, their average age being 11.118. The average attendance during 7 months was 16.429, and the highest average attendance any one month that of December was 30, the full number. Schega Wella missed but 2 days in 2 years.

Macedonia school, on Seco creek, above the old mission house, already mentioned in connection with the topographical outline of the Qualla boundary, is supported by the interest, payable annually, from an educational fund held in trust by the United States for the Eastern Band of Cherokees. The 2 other schools are also maintained from the same fund. The expense of the Macedonia school for the census year, including salaries, was $816.28. There are accommodations at this school for 55 pupils, and the largest attendance was 52. This under, yiz, 27 males and 25 females, attended more than 1 of the 7 school months during the year. Of the scholars 2 were over 18 and none were under 6 years of age, their average ages being 10.8. The average attendance for 1 year was 30.14, and the largest monthly average attendance (October) was 34.2 teachers, 1 male and 1 female, were employed. Stacy Johnson and Amy Johnson missed but 1 day each in 2 years.

School Statistics.
Number over 20 years of age who can read 365
Number under 20 years of age who can read 300
Number under 20 years of age who can write English 180
Number who can speak ordinary English 620
Number who can not speak English 385
Children of school age 403
School accommodations 275

Cherokee Training School

The Cherokee training school, established under the auspices of the Western Meeting of Friends of the state of Indiana, occupies for school awl farm purposes nearly 50 acres of land along the Ocona Lufta River, at the foot of Mount Noble, as indicated on the map. 39 acres of this land were purchased by the Friends from the heirs of Longblanket, the Cherokee chief.

The inspiration of the enterprise from the first has been the earnest and intelligent purpose of Barnabas Hobbs (well known as former superintendent of schools for the state of Indiana, and well known also in Europe for his labors in behalf of general peace) to combine moral, educational, and industrial training for the Cherokee youth under a formal home system of management. This work, after many trials and much local opposition, has been most successfully developed.

This Cherokee training school was a natural result of a system initiated by General Grant whereby various religious bodies were encouraged to enter into contracts for the education and training of Indian youth. The council of the Eastern Band of Cherokees made such an agreement with the Friends for as term of 10 years, which term expired in May 1800. The majority of the council favored its indefinite continuance. The principal chief, Nimrod J. Smith, interposed his veto, and, although nearly at the end of his term of office, obstinately opposed the general wish of the people, and left the matter unsettled.

The school is under the direction of 4 teachers, all female, and 9 other employees, 13 in all, of whom 10 are white and 3 are Indian. The number of pupils who can he properly and healthfully accommodated in the main building, the boarding house, is 90, including 20 day pupils. As many as 84 have been accommodated, 43 males and 11 females have attended the school more than 1 month, in addition to 15 male and 9 female day scholars, all between the ages of 6 and 18 years. The school was maintained 10 mouths, with an average attendance of 80 boarding pupils and 5.20 day pupils. The average age of the boarders is 9.071, and of day pupils 10,042. During the mouth of September 1889, the average attendance of the boarders was 80, and of the day pupils 17.708, The cost of maintaining the school was $11,264.47, from the government appropriation of $12,000. Industrial work forms a marked feature of duty, and this includes farming, fruit culture, gardening, grazing stock, and some shop work. The general duties of the housewife are taught the girls, as well as plain sewing and other needlework. Scholars take their turn in laundering, cooking, and housework, so that all learn to make bread and qualify themselves for all kitchen duty. Practically 125 acres have been cultivated. 50 bushels of wheat, 500 bushels of corn, 75 bushels of oats, 600 pumpkins, 10 tons of hay, and 50 pounds of butter are among the products of the industry of the school. The boys and girls have acquired and take care of 33 swine and 150 domestic fowls, 5 horses and 50 cattle, including 25 milch cows, form the stock of the institution. 4 frame houses and 7 outbuildings are owned by the government or the Cherokee nation, of which one, a spacious, well-arranged barn, costing $100, was erected during the year. The salary of the superintendent and matron, besides board, is but $1,000 per annum, and the highest salary paid any teacher or employee is $30 per month. The weekday program of exercises fitly illustrates the excellence of the superintendent’s management, and explains the high order among schools which the Cherokee training school has attained. It is as follows; morning bell, 5 o’clock; breakfast, 5:30; industrial work, 6 to 9; school exercises, 9 to 11:15; dinner, 12 m; industrial work, 12.30 p.m.; school exercises, 1.30 to 4; industrial work, 4 to 6; supper, 6; recreation, 6:30 to 7; evening study, 7; evening prayers, 8; retiring boll, 8:30.

According to age and necessity, a portion of the hours for industrial work and evening study is used fur such occupations as partake of the character of recreation, and an excellent brass band among the boys is the result of one phase of this system, At the breakfast hour a few verses are read front the Bible, followed by a brief prayer, and the blessing upon the meld is either uttered by a teacher or the school in unison, The Sabbath exercises are varied by Sunday-school recitations, but no sectarian or dogmatic teaching has a place at any time. The familiar but proper forms of a largo family are observed at all hours, and the handshaking ” good night” is as pleasing and genial as if all were indeed one family in fact. Religious instruction is largely a matter of precept and example, without catechism or other straight forms for the inculcation of principles of right and duty.

During the year the hostility of Chief Smith disturbed some of the friends of the school, and the overwork imposed upon the superintendent, with corresponding delay to keep the Friends, founders and patrons of the school, promptly advised of its monthly or quarterly condition, led them to propose a summary change. This would gratify the chief’s spite and please jealous neighbors, who desire the Friends to lose control of the school, although such a change would prove signally disastrous to its best interests. The school had better be wholly under government control than undergo so sudden and revolutionary a change. A contract was drafted at the request of parties interested, Superintendent Spray and the Friends, and its execution in good faith will banish distrust and impart new life to the institution. The nation as a body has implicit confidence in the management, and its mend influence is great and increasing.

Needs Of The Cherokee Training School

Greater accommodations are needed, and the funds necessary for an increase of the pupilage to 125 should be appropriated. All buildings need painting. A shop for industrial trades is a necessity. The piping for water, near by, should be so enlarged and developed as to secure a fire cistern, and appliances for use against lire should be provided. A sawmill should be built, the water power being convenient and abundant. Already the superintendent buys produce largely from the Indians, and secures for them many articles of clothing at cost. This offends visiting merchants, who are not always free from the suspicion that ardent spirits reach the Indians through the carelessness of their employees, so that every local means promotive of self-reliance, independence, and industrial development should have government sanction and support.

The general management of the institution by the Friends and their, representatives has been catholic in spirit, conciliatory toward all denominations, and liberal in. its recognition of the demands of the times, Misrepresentations awakened anxiety, but an examination of the property, assets, and management resulted in the vindication of the general policy of the superintendent; but a more exact and responsible system for future development was formulated. The recognition of the personal integrity of Superintendent Spray and wife, and the extraordinary success of the school, with such limited resources, was not allowed to overcome the conviction that a more exact system of record and account was necessary to inspire full faith in future success. A capable and reliable assistant superintendent, -responsible to the superintendent, is greatly needed, and salaries should be the same as in government schools proper. The proposed summary change was at a time when only injury could result, and against the wishes of the moral and reliable portion of the Cherokee nation.

The large building called the boarding house was erected by the United States. The Friends have made valuable investments, partly from trust funds, which should be fully reimbursed in case the school shall come under the formal management of the Interior department.

Cherokee, History,

Donaldson, Thomas. Indians, Eastern Band of Cherokees of North Carolina 11th Census of the United States, Robert P. Porter, Superintendent, US Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 1892.

1 thought on “Eastern Band of Cherokee, Schools”

  1. Very interesting! My mother went to day school. And was punished for speaking Cherokee but I believe it was run by the BIA around the time she was going to school.

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