Death, Power, and Silence: Native Nations’ Ancestral Remains at the Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania

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The foci of this chapter are the many troubling issues associated with indigenous student deaths at US and Canadian boarding/residential schools. These institutions were organized to strip students of their cultural traditions and loyalties, in preparation for assimilation into mainstream society. The cemetery of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School is used here as both case study and synecdoche, to address the larger geo-political and historical questions connected with this educational program of cultural genocide. By interweaving an investigation of physical changes to the cemetery with scrutiny of archival documents, the analysis reveals that behind the neat lines of cemetery stones stands a powerful but covert narrative of Native exclusion, segregation, and dispossession. The chapter argues that ongoing scrutiny of both the past and current physical site of the cemetery can supply information that is able (in part) to mitigate the silences, gaps, and pervasive deficiencies of the historical record.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to the Anthropology of Death
EditorsAntonious Robben
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)978-1-119-22229-3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Boarding/Residential schools

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