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Chilocco Indian Agricultural School

Chilocco, Oklahoma



Chiloccoan yearbooks are available through both the National Archives and Records Administration and the Oklahoma Historical Society.  The 2006 National Register application from the National Park Service is available online.  The Arkansas City (KS) Daily Traveler was among newspaper that covered campus events.  The seal is from the 1932 Chiloccoan.


Chilocco Indian Agricultural School was created in 1882 as a vehicle for transforming American Indian youth through “instruction in trades and manual and domestic labor.”  The school opened in January 1884 for 150 students, representing 17 tribes.  Its model was the Carlisle School in Pennsylvania.  Initially, the average age for entering students was 19, but academic classes were at grammar school level.   The first graduation for eight girls and seven boys was held in 1894.  


The 1933 Chiloccoan shows a high school enrollment of 562.  The 96 seniors represented seventeen tribes with Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks and Chickasaws predominating.  Twenty-nine students were trained in various components of home economics; Twelve were trained in agriculture, including animal husbandry, poultry, and horticulture; thirty-seven had been taught a trade, including shoe repair, painting, librarian, engineering, auto mechanics, nursing, physical education, plumbing, baking, carpentry, printing, and masonry.


In 1891 The Arkansas City Democrat noted C.I.A.S. had a literary society, a singing school, and a band, with an annual entertainment. .  By 1932 the “singing school” had expanded to men’s and women’s glee clubs, and an orchestra.  Religious organizations included the Hi-Y and the Y.W.C.A.  There was an Aggie Club and a Home Economics Club. 


Declining enrollment, reluctance of the government to continue funding, and a public outcry over reports of abuse let to closure in 1980.

Chilocco seal_edited.jpg

Bricks and Mortar

In 1884 the Cherokee Nation ceded 8,640 acres of land to the United States to provide the farmland and buildings for a mandated agricultural school. Known as the Cherokee Strip, it bordered the state of Kansas.  The first building, the “Mother Home,” was built of locally quarried limestone in 1883.  It consisted of a 36’ x 76’ central section, containing the recitation hall and faculty quarters.  Four-story 20’ x 55’ wings housed the students, who lived here while building other campus structures.  In both style and structure, it became the model for all of the early campus buildings.  Known as “Home Two,” it was razed in 1970. 

Home #2_edited.jpg

The most distinctive extant campus building is Haworth Hall (1910). A three-story limestone building with a tower, it contained the chapel and the library, in addition to classrooms. The original academic building, completed in 1893, burned in 1907.  At the time the campus was placed on the National Register in 2006, forty-four buildings remained, most sadly deteriorating. 

(Left) Home #2.  Image from the National Archives and Records Administration.


            School colors: Red and white

In 1898 C.I.A.S. played a football game against a team from Wellington, KS.  The Monitor-Index of Wellington noted, “The red men take naturally to the game of football.”  In 1900 C.I.A.S. played a three-game schedule—including a 27-0 loss to the University of Oklahoma.  While it did not graduate its first high school class until 1927, Chilocco’s football teams  played regularly against Division-One college teams, including Oklahoma, Oklahoma A&M, Arkansas, Phillips, and forerunners of Wichita State and Tulsa. 

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C.I.A.S. played baseball as early as 1888 and by 1891 has “beaten all the amateur ball clubs in this vicinity.”  Moses Yellow Horse compiled a 17-0 schoolboy record in 1917 and went on to pitch two seasons for the Pirates.  Later yearbooks show basketball, baseball and track teams.  But the major sport in the 1930’s seems to have been boxing.  C.I.A.S. fielded a school as well as having Golden Gloves

In 1924, C.I.A.S. became a member of an Oklahoma junior college conference, playing against two-year and smaller four-year colleges in Oklahoma and Kansas.  The Chilicco junior college teams were made up of players no longer eligible for high school competition.  In general C.I.A.S. football teams met little success, with a 5-2 record in 1922 being the best.  Yearbooks show only high school competition after 1936.


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