Mekusukey, I.T. October 26, 1898. pp., on Seminole National Schools - Mekusukey Academy stationery. Original mailing folds, minor separations at one crossfold of each sheet. Very good. Item #3585
A long, informative, and rather fascinating letter written by an instructor identified only as "Boyd" while teaching at Mekusukey Academy in Indian Territory, detailing how he came to work in "this woe-begone God-forsaken country of the red man." He informs his correspondent about how he obtained the teaching position at the school for Creek and Seminole youth, the nature of his work, the details of the school itself, the nature of the Native Americans students, how he and the other teachers spend their limited leisure time, and more. He provides a vivid account of his teaching job and the history of the school itself: "I have but a few hours teaching to do; the bulk of my work is discipline. Mekusukey was originally a mission school founded and operated by the Presbyterian Church but being unable to support it, the school fell into the management of the nation of Indians in whose territory it is located, namely the Creek and Seminoles. These nations are by far the richest and most civilized of all in the Ind[ian] Ter[ritory]. The school has three departments - primary, intermediate, and advanced. The same branches, by the same methods are taught as in any high school with the addition of music in the advanced grade, but Latin and Greek are not taught. Much stress is laid upon English. Their native tongue, Creek, is forbidden to be spoken except at stated times. To see that they speak only English and speak it properly is part of my work. So you see I am with the boys always when outside of the school-room, that is my school-room for the greater part is the woods and prairies. The age of the boys is from eight to twenty-one. We will have over a hundred when they all come in."
Boyd then details the school and its surroundings, how "civilized" it all is, how the school pumps water from a nearby spring but also catches and retains rainfall for drinking water, and expounds upon the staff and "four other teachers beside myself - fifteen white people in all." Boyd then spends an entire page describing the Native American students at the school. The passage reads, in part: "The Indians are a queer people. There is not one of them can tell you how old he is; and the names are amusing to hear - Bowlegs, Wildcat Goat, Ugly Snake, Spider Tooth, Running Water, Chewing Jack, Mouse In a Hole, Possum Pouch, Sharp Knife, Wolf Tooth, Warrior Joe, Black Amos, Sukhukununwy Erasettelev (meaning Boar bristle), Wakupessenehaopuwn (meaning Butter-milk Pete), Scar In the Face, Rain In the Face, Cujo Mike, Sure Shot, Harjoe Wonnie, Fixco Fight, Ring In the Ear, etc., etc. A great many do wear rings in their ears. They are very fond of gay colors, especially red.... All the old 'bucks' carry revolvers. Well in fact every one here carries one. We went to an Indian competition several Sundays ago and what seemed most ridiculous to me was that every one, ministers included carried a big navy conspicuously holstered. It seemed to me such a gross incongruity that it was disgusting."
Mekusukey Academy was a school established in 1891 near present-day Seminole, Oklahoma, to indoctrinate the local Creek and Seminole children in the ways of white America. The school was turned over to the Presbyterian Church in 1889, and relocated to a new building just south of Wewoka in 1893. The U.S. government took control of the school in 1900 and operated it until the school closed at the end of 1930. It later burned down. The Oklahoma Historical Society retains the records for the school, but private communications such as the present letter are incredibly rare in the open market, providing a stark, firsthand account of the indoctrination of the native peoples in Indian Territory through the education of Native American youth.