Choctaw-Chickasaw Tuberculosis Sanatorium

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Choctaw-Chickasaw Tuberculosis Sanatorium
Established 1911
Opened 1917
Closed 1963
Current Status Closed
Building Style Single Building
Location Talihina, OK
Alternate Names
  • Talihina Indian Tuberculosis Hospital


Seeing a rising incidence of tuberculosis in their tribe, the Choctaw Council authorized $50,000[1] for the construction of a sanatorium 3 and 1/2 miles northwest[2] of Talihina, Oklahoma in the Winding Stair Mountains. It would be located only about half a mile from the Eastern Oklahoma Tuberculosis Sanatorium. By 1916, the building had remained unfinished and it was contemplated that the hospital would serve general patients as well as tubercular cases despite what had been proposed. Recommendations from the Bureau of Indian Affairs urged that the site remain as primarily a tuberculosis hospital, not only for the recovery of patients in a location that fit will with contemporary treatment ideas, but also to segregated the infected from the rest of their tribe. The hospital opened in 1917, and the next year it was home to twenty patients, mostly youths.[3] It had a projected capacity of sixty patients.

1921 saw many of the same remarks from Bureau of Indian Affairs officials; there were no Choctaw or Chickasaw tribe members on staff, meaning physicians and nurses had difficulty communicating with many of their patients. It was also still being widely used to house non-TB patients without any separation from each other.[4]. Conditions were similar in 1930 when the superintendent, Dr. William van Cleave, testified to Congress that the sanatorium regularly "crowd more in" than its sixty bed capacity. Patients included syphilis sufferers as well as TB patients.[5] Throughout the years, the hospital reported difficulty keeping patients through the full treatment regimen.

In 1939, the tribe conveyed the hospital and land to the federal government.[6] 1942 saw the sanatorium allocated $203,604 by the federal government.[7] This followed up significant New Deal era Public Works Administration spending in the mid-1930s including more than $56,000 in 1934 for conservation and construction work.[8] With the decline in tuberculosis patients those that remained were moved to state facilities in 1963.[9]