“Kill the Indian, save the man.”

The Carlisle Indian School was founded in 1879 by Colonel RH Pratt. His goal was to prove the Native American equal to whites. His method was to “drive the Indian” out of them. His motto “Kill the Indian, save the man.”


Here’s two photos of Tom Torlino, a Navaho who arrived at Carlisle a few years after it opened. The second photo shows Tom’s transformation. His lighter skin is most likely the intentional product of the photographer’s lighting.

Before and after “contrast” photos were sent to officials in Washington, to potential charitable donors and to other reservations to recruit new students. Pratt’s powerful photographs showing his quick results helped persuade Washington that he was doing vital work.

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