Seneca Indian Boarding School

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Seneca Indian Boarding School
Opened 1872
Closed 1980
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Wyandotte, OK
Alternate Names


The Wyandotte tribe was removed to this area of Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in 1867. The Society of Friends (Quakers) established a mission in Wyandotte in 1869. The Wyandotte Tribal Council donated land for the Quakers to establish a boarding school for Seneca, Eastern Shawnee and Wyandot, Ottawa, Modoc, Eastern Quapaw, United Peoria, and Western Miami children. Construction of the school began in 1871 and classes began in 1872 with fewer than 50 students. Due to increased pressure after the Federal government took over in 1880, the enrollment increased to more than 135 by 1885.

Other names for the school were Wyandotte Mission, Seneca, Shawnee, and Wyandotte Industrial Boarding School, and Seneca Boarding School. It was supported bu the Quaker Friends' Church until 1880 when it became fully supported by the Federal Government. By the 1920s, the composition of the student body had changed, and was largely Cherokee students. The school had a capacity of 130 students.

The school offered education to children ages 4 - 18, initially offering curriculum through the fourth grade, later expanding to the ninth grade in the 1920's. Unlike the church-sponsored school that failed, the Seneca Indian School "thrived" in turning so-called "savages" into students; earning it the nickname "Marvel of the Wilderness." The boys worked in carpentry, and farm management and maintenance. The girls were taught English cooking, sewing, home management, and grooming. After the 1880 government take-over, the school is reported to have had strict military discipline and dress reviews, and forbade the speaking of Native languages. The schools superintendent often reported students not returning after Christmas breaks (the only break of the year, a Christian holiday.)

The school had an outbreak of measles and typhoid in 1927, and "dozens of children" died.

In 1928, a new principal was appointed, Joe Kagey. The school changed its admittance policy, and was opened to children of all tribes. It became an "institutional" school for children coming from situations of hardship. During this period, the school was known for having a successful athletic program in which their teams ranked among the best in the state in football, basketball, baseball, tennis and track. They held an "Athletic Field Meet" which included compitition in all sports. In 1952, there were 173 Cherokee students, and a 100 students from other tibes. Kagey retired in 1956.

The school closed on June 15, 1980. The school's 189 acres of land were returned to the Wyandotte Tribe.

Current location of the property is 1 mile south of St Hwy 60 and 12 miles southest of Miami, OK.