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The permanent exhibit, “Honoring Our Children Through Seasons of Sacrifice, Survival, Change, and Celebration” tells the story of the many evolutions Haskell has gone through from a school teaching basic skills like domestic cooking, cleaning, sewing, and farming; to elementary level classes; to high school level classes; to a vocational-technical school; a junior college; and finally a four-year university for Native students.
Sacrifice: We are not just honoring our Haskell children, but all children who lived and died in a boarding school as part of the federal government’s assimilation policy. The boarding school policy began in 1839, and Haskell was established in 1884. The early years of the boarding school were traumatic for Indian children and their families. Initially, students were required to stay at Haskell for four years without contact with family and tribes, to sever the connection to tribal traditions and customs. During the early years, the school was run like the military, requiring students to wear uniforms and march everywhere. The early years offered classes only in domestic skills like housekeeping and farming.
Survival: The students seized the opportunity to build new intertribal communities which provided them with the emotional, physical, and psychological support they needed to help them survive the devastating conditions they lived under. Students united and began to seek change. Additionally, students who graduated from Haskell stayed on as staff and faculty and helped change the school to what it is today. The level of education increased from elementary level to high school level during these years.
Change: The years of 1925 through 1965 were full of constant change and adaptation. This time frame included the changing responses to the federal government’s Indian education policies. Dr. Henry Roe Cloud was hired in 1933 as the first Native superintendent at Haskell, and he changed the curriculum to reorganization and emphasizing Native culture.
Celebration: The school changed yet again from the 1960s to a junior college level. The Red Power movement reflected the federal policy of self-determination, and Haskell became a place for culturally centered organizations, student publications, and tribal events throughout the year, as well as excelling academically. Then in 1993, Haskell became Haskell Indian Nations University with the first of the four-year baccalaureate degree programs. Today we celebrate what Haskell has become, and what the students made it into, a four-year university for students from all tribal nations, with baccalaureate degrees in elementary teacher education, environmental science, business, and American Indian Studies. Today Haskell is a place that students are proud to graduate from, and many alumni return each year for homecoming and graduation to help their fellow students celebrate this great achievement of survival and triumph.
This display documents the military history of Haskell. For many of the early years, Haskell was run like a military school. The children wore uniforms and marched everywhere. They woke to reveille and went to bed to taps. There were several battalions of both boys and girls. Haskell also had the only Indian cavalry in the National Guard. We also had 415 soldiers serve in World War I, and the Haskell Arch is a memorial to those 415 soldiers from that war. Many Haskell servicemen also served in World War II and Alan Houser, a noted Native sculptor, created a memorial to those veterans that is currently housed in Navarre Hall. We also have a commemorative medal on display that was awarded to the code talkers from many Native nations who helped to win that war. Another sculpture in Stidham Union was done by John Learnard to honor the veterans of the Korean War. We have a display honoring the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as well.
The Garden of Healing focuses on Great Plains medicinal and edible plants that Native Americans have used for centuries for food, medicine, and building materials. The plants are accompanied by stories from many tribal nations about their origin and what illnesses to treat, as well as stories about the uses of plants such as sage, sweet grass, or cedar, for use in ceremonies. These healing plants will help the Haskell campus to heal from the trauma of the boarding school era. The plants are made available to the Haskell campus.
Providing a path of healing are limestone rocks that used to be in the first buildings at Haskell. These stones carry stories of the past and can help make the Cultural Center garden a garden of healing.
The Peace Pole was donated to Haskell by the World Peace Prayer Society in Japan. It says, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in English, Japanese, Cherokee, and Navajo.
The Tree of Peace is a maple tree planted by Jake Swamp of the Tree of Peace Society in honor the Haudenosaunee or People of the Longhouse confederacy and how they buried their weapons to work together for peace.
The Haskell Medicine Wheel Earthwork is south of the campus and was designed by Haskell professors, students, crop artist Stan Herd, and tribal elders, and dedicated in 1992 as a response to the 500th commemoration of the “Columbian Legacy.” The creation of the Earthwork Medicine Wheel at Haskell is offered as a Native gift to all people of this planet and a powerful symbol of what we as peoples of the world must now learn. A replica of the Medicine Wheel is carved in the tile at the Haskell Cultural Center as a way of balancing the campus with one on the north and south ends of campus.
Gifts of the Buffalo
For thousands of years, the Native people of the great Indian nations and the wildlife of North America lived in harmony. The buffalo provided the native people with food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. To show appreciation for the Buffalo for their gifts, the Native people used everything from the buffalo. Because the Buffalo provided so much to the Native people, the people honored them and regarded them as sacred. But when Europeans came, they killed the buffalo for sport and as a way to weaken the Indian nations. The population of 60 million buffalo was reduced to a few hundred. A small herd was found hiring in the Yellowstone Valley of Montana, and a few head in Texas. But a group of caring people brought the buffalo back. Today there are over 175,000 living in the United States and Canada, and of these, 8,000 are on Indian lands. The Intertribal Bison Cooperative works with 40 Indian nations to bring the buffalo back to their Native people, and to the children of all nations.
This display of newly printed platinum photographs document the Trans-Mississippi Exposition and Indian Congress in Omaha, NE, in 1898. While Rinehart made photographs of the World’s Fair events and buildings, Muhr photographed the people who attended the Indian Congress from over 35 different nations. Haskell owns the 809 glass plate negatives that were the result of this documentation. We also have published a book called Beyond the Reach of Time and Change that was edited by Simon Ortiz, with essays contributed by contemporary Native artists, writers, and teachers. The Rinehart/Muhr photographs depict one of the best photographic documentations of Indian leaders at the turn of the century. These are portraits which reflect individual personalities with dignity, pride, and honor. This exhibit is intended to be a dialog between the American Indians photographed in the past and people living today, both Native and non-Native. VIEW RINEHART GALLERIES