Black and Red Education at Hampton Institute: A Case Study of the Shawnee Indians, 1900–1925

  • Wilma King


Hampton Normal and Agriculture Institute, founded by General Samuel C. Armstrong, son of American missionaries in Hawaii and a Union commander of black soldiers in the Civil War, opened its doors for newly freed blacks in 1868. Hampton has a long tradition of educating students of African descent; however, a significant but less well-known facet of the institution’s history is its role in defining the education of native Americans between 1877 and 1923. Hampton Institute sought to educate the two peoples in academics, industrial trades, and manual training, along with Christian education. David Wallace Adams’s study of the education of Arizona’s Hopi Indians between 1887 and 1917 reveals similarities with Hampton’s system: in both cases, administrators appeared more interested in “civilizing” and “Americanizing” the “oldest” Americans than providing well-rounded academic instruction. The implied objective was to force Native Americans to give up their customs. Integral to this process was the abandonment of their traditional names, clothing, and religion. Although a number of scholars have included discussions about Indians at the institution in larger studies, others, primarily ph. d. dissertations and m. a. theses, have remained unpublished. Donai E Lindsey’s Indians at Hampton Institute, 1877–1923 is the seminal publication on the subject. This study, by contrast, focuses on an even smaller facet of Indian education—that of the “Shawnees,” eight black students designated as Native Americans. The success of Hampton Institute’s Indian program may be measured by studying these students, six of whom participated in programs “for Indians only” while the other two were classified as “Negroes” and integrated into the general student body of African Americans.1


Depression Steam Transportation Income Assimilation 
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© Wilma King 2005

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  • Wilma King

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