Carlisle Indian Industrial School

Barbara Landis
Carlisle Indian School Biographer

As the Carlisle Indian School biographer for the Cumberland County Historical Society, Barbara Landis assists library patrons with information about the first off-reservation government boarding school for Native American Indian children.  Among these patrons are descendants of the former students of the Carlisle Indian School, writers, filmmakers, students, and researchers developing publications, television documentaries and feature films. Landis has been involved in this research since 1990.  During the past few years the historical society has included her slide programs and tours for graduate and undergraduate classes in Native American studies.

In 1992, Landis developed a web site at, devoted to getting the names of Carlisle Indian School students to their respective nations using the blended names of children taken from school publications and the actual school records found in Record Group 75 of the National Archives.   Through her pages, a group of  descendants of Carlisle Indian School students proposed and organized the installation of an historic marker at the site of the school in the Indian Cemetery at Carlisle. The marker, sponsored by the Viola White Water Foundation based in Harrisburg, PA was installed by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission August 31, 2003. 

In the summer of 2000, she was one of the principle organizers of Pow-Wow 2000: Remembering Carlisle Indian School.  This one-time, Memorial Day weekend event commemorated the former Carlisle alumni and their families as part of a year-long series of activities sponsored by the 250th Anniversary Committee of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.  Other 250th programming relating to the Indian School included a series of three Saturday presentations and tours of the Carlisle school grounds, open to the public, featuring Landis as speaker and tour guide.  Her tour was produced and filmed  as an hour-long televised event for the popular PCN Tours featured on cable TV.

Landis participated as keynote speaker in the kick-off program of the first Native American Indian and Alaska Native month activities in Washington DC in 1997 and continues to participate in these annual activities.  In early November 2000, she co-presented a series of programs about the Carlisle School for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian Heye Center in New York City, in conjunction with their exhibition, "Who Stole the Teepee?"  The following summer she was one of the invited presenters at the Jim Thorpe family reunion at the Sac and Fox Tribe in Prague, Oklahoma.  In November, 2002 she participated in the "Boarding School Blues" symposium at the Sherman Indian High School, Riverside, CA, sponsored by University of California and several California American Indian communities.  Her topic, "Putting Lucy Pretty Eagle to Rest" discussed a popular ghost story which has for many years been circulated to  romanticize the existence of the Indian Cemetery located at the Carlisle Barracks in Carlisle. Her essay is included in the book, "Boarding School Blues" published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2006. 

     In August 2003, Landis was included among the presenters at the annual Oneida History Conference in Oneida, Wisconsin. Her topic marked the conference as the first to include an American Indian tribe's unique biographical sketches for students who attended Carlisle. Her work, "To the Height of Civilization" was included in the University of Oklahoma Press' anthology of the conference published in 2006.

Subsecquent conferences include a panel lecture about the Carlisle Indian Cemetery in April 2008 for the Native American and Indigenous Studies gathering on the theme, "The Hidden and the Displayed at Boarding/Residential Schools" at the University of Georgia, Athens; and a presentation on Carlisle Indian school artists at the Osage Culture Center's events surrounding the opening of their exhibit "A Legacy...Through the Eyes of our Ancestors," May 2008 in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. 

      She is the mother of three grown children, grandmother of five, and lives in Carlisle with her husband.


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