The Lost Ones
In the late nineteenth century, as the federal government entered the final stages of US nation building with its accompanying conquest and dispossession of Native nations, a glaring question remained unanswered: what should be done with the surviving indigenous peoples who had withstood this onslaught.
Professor Jacqueline Fear-Segal’s research explores how, having forcibly subjugated the warrior societies of the Plains, the government proposed an audacious new solution to the “Indian problem”: deliberate obliteration of all indigenous cultures and assimilation of Native youth into mainstream America through re-education in schools.
Audio Clip from the Lost Ones
Fear-Segal looks in particular at the story of two Ndé (Lipan Apache) children who were subjected to this policy of cultural genocide. Captured and transported two thousand miles to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School as prisoners of war, they never returned home. The children’s family did not know their whereabouts until 125 years later when Fear-Segal made contact with them.
Native nations had their own separate and distinct cultures and had no wish to join the American republican experiment. They powerfully defended their lands and their traditions. But as the United States rapidly became demographically and technologically more powerful, the government cleared the way for white settlement of indigenous lands by organising “Indian” removals and the restriction of all nations to demarcated areas known as reservations.
Schools were established on reservations and in the midst of white communities to achieve this goal of cultural genocide. Thousands of Native children from across the USA, Alaska, and even Puerto Rico, were enrolled and instructed to forget their own “inferior” traditions and communities and learn the language, religion, values, and cultural behaviour of Whites.
The Lost Ones Jack & Kesetta
Jack and Kesetta were enrolled at Carlisle Indian Industrial School shortly after it opened. Born into the Ndé nation (Lipan Apache), they were sent to Carlisle by the US Army as prisoners of war.
The two children had been captured by the Army at El Remolino, Mexico. Colonel Ranald Mackenzie and his 4th US Cavalry made a brutal surprise attack across the Texas-Mexican border. They killed scores of women and children, including Jack and Kesetta’s mother. That day was known for ever after by the Ndé (Lipan Apache) as the “Day of Screams”.
After their capture by the 4th US Cavalry in 1873, Jack and Kesetta never saw their people again.
For some years, Jack and Kesetta lived with an Army family and moved from fort to fort. When the Carlisle Indian School opened, Col. Mackenzie transported them to Pennsylvania, to become part of the government’s assimilation experiment.
The children never again saw their people, who from the time of their disappearance called them the “lost ones”. And this is their story.
It is a story fractured into two parts. The first part unfolds along the Rio Grande River, where the children lived with their people, the Cúelcahén Ndé (people of the long grass). After their capture and disappearance, the Ndé mourned them and kept their memory alive by telling and retelling their story, incorporating it into their oral history. At family gatherings down four generations, a food plate was passed round and chairs always left empty for the “lost ones”.
The second part of the story takes place at the Carlisle Indian School and in Pennsylvania. Fragments of this story, preserved in the written and visual archive, were pieced together by Jacqueline Fear-Segal using Indian School records, newspapers, and photographs.
When Fear-Segal made contact with Daniel Castro Romero Jr., General Council Chairman of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas, these two broken parts of the “lost ones’" story were joined for the first time.
Jack's Timeline Capture by US Cavalry onwards
1870sLiving with his Ndé people
on their lands along the
1873Captured at El Remolino by
the 4th US Cavalry and made a
prisoner of war (mother killed).
1873-80Lived and travelled between forts
with a soldier in the 4th US Cavalry,
Charles Smith and his wife Mollie.
1880Sent to Carlisle (about aged 10) to
be enrolled at the Indian Industrial
School (still a POW)
1884Sent to St. Augustine, Florida, to
live with his adoptive mother,
-Employed in local
St Augustine hotel, and
then by a local carpenter.
1886The capture of Geronimo (Chiricahua Apache) marked the end
of open Native military resistance. Geronimo’s people were imprisoned
in Fort Marion, St Augustine, including women and children.
Children were then sent to Carlisle Indian School.
1888Falls ill with tuberculosis
and is sent back to Carlisle
1888Dies two weeks later in the
school hospital (February 5th) and
is buried in the school cemetery
In 1884, after four and a half years at the school, Jack (now about 16) was sent to St. Augustine, Florida, to live with the seventy-year-old white woman who had adopted him: Sarah Mather. Jack’s journey to Florida by land and sea was long. He passed through New York, Philadelphia, and Savannah, Georgia.
Jack held down several jobs during his time in St Augustine. First employed in a hotel — receiving a wage of $1.25 a day — he was later apprenticed to a local carpenter.
Native American Language
In 1886, the last open Native military resistance in the USA was crushed when the Cavalry captured the famous Chiricahua Apache warrior, Geronimo. This was significant to Jack, because hundreds of Chiricahua Apache prisoners of war captured by the Army in the Southwest were transported and imprisoned in St Augustine – so the Chiricahua Apache language was regularly heard throughout the town. Living in the centre of St. Augustine, Jack would almost certainly have encountered these prisoners and, for the first time since his capture, heard a language close to his mother tongue. He may even have understood some of it.
When Jack fell seriously ill with tuberculosis, after two years in Florida, he was sent back to Carlisle. Arriving into a freezing Pennsylvania January, he joined a group of sickly children in the school hospital. Just two weeks later he passed away and was buried in the school cemetery. When the cemetery was moved and reshaped in 1927, Jack’s new military-style gravestone was incorrectly marked with the name ‘Jack Martha’. It still bears that name today.caption
Kesetta was about thirteen when she and her brother were enrolled at the Carlisle Indian School. Had she still been living with her own people, at this age she would have participated in a puberty ceremony to celebrate her womanhood in a sacred way and learn Ndé women’s wisdom, passed down by elders. Instead, Kesetta was dressed in the regulation Carlisle uniform and taught to sew and launder, and to drill and march. She and her people were thus robbed of their cultural heritage; a deliberate consequence of Carlisle and the government’s mission of cultural genocide.
Kesetta’s Timeline Capture by US Cavalry onwards
1870sLiving with her Ndé people
on their lands along the
1873Captured by the 4th US
Cavalry and made a prisoner
of war (mother killed)
1873-80Lived and travelled with a bandsman
in the 4th US Cavalry, Charles Smith
and his wife Mollie
1880Sent to Carlisle (aged about 13)
to be enrolled at the Indian
Industrial School (still a POW)
1882Sent on summer
outing to household
in Lancaster PA
1902Lived and worked on outing
with Paxton family in Schuylkill
County PA, and then Virginia
Willow Grove, PA
1888-1900Outing to Columbus, New
Jersey and then Trenton
with Bishop household
1900-01Outing to Delaware,
with Mrs AW Powell
1901-1902Outing to Baltimore,
1902Outing again to Delaware with
Powell household, but quickly
discovered to be pregnant
1903Sent away to Quaker-run Rosine Home, Philadelphia, where she gives birth to her son, Richard
1903-1906Works in Lahaska, PA, taking Richard with her
1906Dies of tuberculosis (December 24th) and is buried in Lahaska Quaker cemetery
On August 13th, 1907, Kesetta's son Richard was enrolled at Carlisle - the same school that had played such a momentous role in the life of not only his mother, but his uncle too (Jack Mather).
Due to his age (he was much younger than the other Carlisle students), Richard became something of a mascot at Carlisle and, according to the school paper, was "very popular among the large girls".
Richard Kesetta’s Lipan Apache connection, which had shaped and defined his whole life, had been totally erased.
This role of mascot started a trend that would plague Richard throughout his entire life. In 1912, aged nine, he sat on the shoulders of Olympic gold medallist and Carlisle student, Jim Thorpe. As an adult, he was known locally in Carlisle as “the Indian”. And in 1961 he even played the part of a totemic Indian, in full dress-up plains regalia, for a Civil War Centenary celebration. 'Dick' Kesetta, like so many other Native Americans, never escaped the racial stigma of being designated “Indian” and the accompanying incongruous demand to “play Indian”. Yet he never knew who his mother was or his own connection to the Lipan Apache people. Just like hers, his history had been expunged. He, too, was a lost one.
Excerpt from Professor Fear Segal’s latest book, ‘Carlisle Indian Industrial School’:
In an attempt to uncover more... I decided to search the internet. A short, website history of the Lipan Apaches included the following paragraph: "In 1861 Ramon Castro and some followers were forced to settle at Fort Belknap, Texas, as a condition of their allegiance to the US government. It was also an attempt to exterminate the Lipan Apache. The US government moved the Lipan Apache people as prisoners of war and in 1867 they transferred the Lipan to Fort Griffin near Albany, Texas. By 1885, less than 20 Lipan Apache Band members were still alive.” This seemed to offer a possible link to Kesetta’s people, so I emailed the author to tell him about the two Lipan children who had been captured by Colonel Mackenzie and sent to the Carlisle Indian School and to ask if he knew anything about them or their band.
The next day, Professor Fear-Segal received the following response from Daniel Castro Romero Jr.:
“Now the “lost ones” are found, the Ndé can again be strong as people. Fear-Segal ... found our little ones.”
Whatever lies ahead for them in the future, the work of Professor Fear-Segal will always be remembered by the Ndé people, and her name will be forever spoken in their oral history.
The “lost ones” experienced the U.S. government’s campaign of cultural genocide at its most total and brutal. They were taken from their people and homelands when very young, never to return, and they remained classified as prisoners of war for the rest of their lives. The “lost ones” were just two of the many thousands of Native American children transported to government boarding schools deliberately organised to “kill the Indian to save the man”.
Castro Romero believes that every single one of their individual stories needs to be traced and told, so that Native peoples can know and understand this painful aspect of their histories that touched every Native nation.
At Carlisle, the Farmhouse where students lived and trained still stands and was recently rescued from demolition. The Carlisle Indian School Farmhouse Coalition is now working to renovate and restore the Farmhouse as a Heritage Center, to house, protect and make known the history of this school whose mission was the obliteration of all indigenous languages, cultures, and traditions.
Equally important is the need for all Americans to learn about and understand the lasting social, cultural, and psychological legacies left by the Indian boarding school system. To this day, many facets of Native cultures remain lost or disrupted, and Native communities still carry the enduring scars left by schools that were systematically organised to achieve cultural genocide.
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