Indian Education

Letter: Indian Education

Introduction: In this letter from the Cushman Indian school in Tacoma the writer elaborates on problems associated with Indian education in the area. There was no “Indian” school on the Nisqually Reservation, but many children studied at the Cushman School and boarded their too.

Establishment Of positions.
Cushman Indian School,
Tacoma, Wash., Dec. 9, 1914.

The Honorable
Commissioner of Indian Affairs,
Washington, D. C.


I have the honor to recommend that there be authorized at this school the following positions:
Matron for the large boys at $660
Disciplinarian at $1000
Carpenter at $840

Out of the $50,000 appropriated for the support of this school there has been apportioned for salaries $22,420, which is $1240 less than last year. For an annual estimate, $20,340.89. For other purposes, $7,231.11. Of this last item there is about $6000 for which no authority has been granted. The salary per capita, I think is below the average, as we now have 330 pupils enrolled, and have several more applications.

After a careful investigation and study of the situation here, I am thoroughly convinced that it is absolutely necessary to have a competent matron in charge of the building where there are between 90 and 100 large boys. The dormitory is the home of the boys while they are here, but without a matron it is like a home without a mother; it cannot be kept clean and nest and homelike, and the boys become careless in their habits, rough and boisterous in their conduct, and coarse in their manner. A matron is necessary to direct the cleaning and arranging and ventilating of the rooms, and to lock after the boys clothing and many other things which are necessary to the welfare of the school, and which only a woman can do.

It is utterly impossible to maintain proper discipline among 200 boys without a thoroughly reliable, competent and energetic disciplinarian, who can devote all of his time to the overnight, training, and drilling of the boys. He should be a man without a family so he can room in the building and thus be in constant touch with the boys so as to stimulate them to take greater pride in their personal appearance.

The school is located within the corporate limits of the city, and public conveyance pass the school quite frequently, and the boys can easily get away at night and get into the city and into bad company. There has been some drinking among the boys and I fear that without the assistance of a disciplinarian there will be more. In office of August 22nd, 1914, instructing me in regard to my duties here, I am advised that whisky is the greatest menace to the Indian race, and that I should exercise the greatest precaution to see that steps are taken to fully protect the student body from actual contact with liquor.

A carpenter is badly needed to look after the outside work and in making repairs and improvements. There are many frame buildings, some of which are old and need considerable repairs. Besides there are a number of boys who are studying carpentry and need instruction by a competent man. We have a manual training teacher in the carpenter shop, but all of his time is required in the shop to instruct the boys in the proper handling of machinery.

I request that this matter be given immediate consideration and that the positions be authorized and appointments made at the earliest practicable date.
Very respectfully,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *