Carlisle Indian Industrial School Community Sharing Workshop

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Date(s) - 05/06/2023
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

203 Genesee Street
Auburn, NY 13021


Join the Cayuga Museum of History and Art and the Schweinfurth Art Center May 5 and 6, 2023, for a weekend of activities surrounding Haudenosaunee history, including a demonstration of the Smoke Dance and a free workshop examining the history of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

The weekend begins with a demonstration of the Smoke Dance by Chris Thomas (Onondaga, Beaver Clan) and his Smoke Dancers during First Friday festivities from 5 to 7:30 on May 5. The dance will be performed on the lawn behind the Cayuga Museum, weather permitting.

Highlighted by lightening footwork that seems to float on air, the Smoke Dance is a traditional social dance of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, a confederated alliance of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora nations. Thomas is one of this generation’s most celebrated smoke dancers.

Saturday’s workshop, on May 6 from 2-4 PM, will address the forced assimilation of more than 10,000 Native American children at a boarding school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The Carlisle Indian Industrial School (CIIS) is a major site of memory for Native American Nations across the country. The impact and legacy of Carlisle and the Indian boarding school movement is an important part of American history that warrants continued exploration, interrogation, and dissemination. 

This presentation will introduce the history of the CIIS through the stories of three children who enrolled at Carlisle, featured in the Lost Ones: Long Journey Home documentary. An interactive slide show will be tailored to Haudenosaunee nations and communities in the region, with an introduction to the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center (  

This website provides Native communities and scholars with a comprehensive searchable database of Carlisle Indian School resources, by bringing together the school records housed at the U.S. National Archives as part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs papers, with a variety of resources that are physically preserved in various locations around the country.  Together these materials tell the story of the school and students who were sent there.  In this way the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center represents an effort to aid the teaching and research process about the Carlisle Indian School (and Indian boarding schools and American education in general). 

This workshop is the last in a series of grant- funded workshops intended to guide descendants of CIIS students, Native communities and scholars in the use of these digital resources to both aid in teaching and researching about CIIS, and to increase knowledge and understanding of the school and its complex legacy, while also telling the stories of the many thousands of Native and Indigenous students sent to Carlisle. Individualized hands-on instruction will be available at the close of the presentation. In addition, artwork related to CIIS will be displayed.

The smoke dance and workshop will be free and open to the public. The smoke dance will take place on the Cayuga Museum’s grounds, and the workshop will be hosted in the museum’s Carriage House Theater. Learn more at

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