The Chitimacha Tribe values education and has an interesting history regarding access to educational services. In the early 1900s, Chitimacha Tribal members were taken to the Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The mission of this boarding school was to “Kill the Indian and save the man.” This formal education came at the cost of assimilation and loss of cultural identity. Students were forced to cut their hair, wear uniforms, labor many hours per day, and refrain from using their native language. Conditions at Carlisle were poor, leading to the death of many students including two Chitimacha who died of pneumonia and tuberculosis. Some students ran away and came back home to escape this “schooling”.
In 1932, the first “school” was held in a tribal member’s home because Chitimacha tribal members were not allowed to attend public schools. In 1934, the State of Louisiana gave the Tribe a condemned school building for a facility. Tribal members worked and made improvements to this school and it was used until 1978 when the Tribe opened a new school constructed with funds primarily from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This facility is still in use today with additions to accommodate the rapid growth in enrollment.