Chuala Female Seminary
|Chuala Female Seminary|
|Building Style||Single Building|
Built in 1842 near Doaksville, Okla. One of six schools enacted by a law passed by the Choctaw General Council.
An initial purpose of the boarding schools was to teach boys agriculture and mechanical arts and to teach girls how to sew and make clothing and to do household chores. Another objective was to instruct children in business skills and in reading, writing, and spelling in the English language. Arithmetic, music, and geography were also taught, and in some schools pupils learned algebra, geometry, U.S. history, chemistry, philosophy, botany, astronomy, painting, drawing, and Latin grammar. Students were generally ten to sixteen years of age.
The number of students in each school varied from about twenty-five to more than one hundred. The total enrollment for all institutions combined appears to have never exceeded six hundred at any time during the boarding-school era. In 1860 there were five hundred Choctaw children attending neighborhood schools and four hundred in the boarding schools. By 1888 the number of students in neighborhood schools had grown to 3,427, while boarding school figures had dropped to 318.
The boarding schools had their share of problems. Sickness from whooping cough, measles, pneumonia, and cholera kept the schools closed for weeks and sometimes months at a time. Occasionally there were so many ailing students that a school served as a hospital, and deaths occurred. There were also natural disasters. In 1848 a tornado seriously damaged Chuwahla Seminary at Pine Ridge near Doaksville. Floods frequently kept children home. One of the biggest problems was fire.
The Civil War had a disastrous effect on the Choctaw boarding schools. All were closed for the duration of the conflict, and Chuwahla were never reopened. The Curtis Act of 1898 put all Choctaw Nation schools under U.S. government control. The boarding schools continued to operate, but one by one they were closed.