About the Chilocco History Project
The Chilocco Indian Agricultural School, located in north central Oklahoma, operated from 1884 -1980 as one of a handful of federal off-reservation Indian boarding schools in the United States. Thousands of students passed through the school's iconic entryway arch during its nearly century-long existence. Even today, Chilocco continues to be a powerful site for memory for its remaining alumni from over 127 tribes, as well as the Native peoples, directly or indirectly impacted by its history and scholars and students throughout the world who seek to understand its role within the larger context of U.S. Indian boarding schools.
The work seen here represents a two year collaborative project between the Chilocco National Alumni Association (CNAA) and the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program (OOHRP) at the Oklahoma State University Library. It started as a request from the CNAA Veterans Project Committee (chair: Charmain Baker, members: Betty Pino, Bill Pino, and Jim Baker) to document the first-person stories of their numerous veteran alumni through oral history interviews. However, with additional funding help from the Tom J. and Edna M. Carson Foundation, this project quickly grew into a more ambitious undertaking.
The CNAA identified and OOHRP conducted oral history interviews with over 40 Chilocco veterans and other alumni and held two scanning events for alumni at the annual Chilocco Homecoming. Both CNAA and OOHRP hosted the Smithsonian National Museum for the American Indian's (NMAI) traveling exhibit, "Patriot Nations: Native Americans in our Nation's Armed Forces." OOHRP offered public programming around this event that focused on Chilocco’s civilian and military legacy. This included a scholarly presentation by Dr. K. Tsianina Lomawaima and Jim Baker on the history of the Chilocco school. The OOHRP was also asked to host a Library of Congress Veterans History Project workshop to help encourage the continuation of oral history documentation of the Native experience in the U.S. armed forces. This workshop, held on March 2018 in Stillwater, OK was conducted by OOHRP, with support from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, outreach through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Tribal Government Relations office and attendance by representatives of the NMAI. All military-related interviews conducted for this project are shared with the Library of Congress American Folklife Center's Veterans History Project.
This website aims to enhance Chilocco research by bringing together, in digital format, a variety of resources. In addition to general research in newspapers, archives, and scholarly work, this archive contains oral history interviews conducted with alumni, digitized images from the CNAA archives, K-12 curriculum developed by Dr. Samantha Benn-Duke and Dr. Lisa Brooks, and two documentaries created in conjunction with Firethief Productions, the CNAA board, and the Oklahoma State University Library.
If you have a Chilocco story in your family you would like to share, you can contribute stories or images by filling out the "Contribute an Item" form, for inclusion to this site. If you recognize someone in a photograph listed as "unidentified," please contact us to let us know.
Through these resources, we seek to increase knowledge and understanding of the legacy of Chilocco Indian Agricultural School while also facilitating efforts to tell the stories of the many thousands of students who attended.