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Located at Anadarko, the Riverside Indian School is the nation's oldest federally operated American Indian boarding school and is one of four such schools remaining. Organized in 1871 at the old Wichita Indian Agency commissary with Thomas C. Battey as principal, it became the Wichita-Caddo School in 1872. In 1878-79 the facility was relocated one mile west to its present location along the Washita River and was named Riverside Indian School.

For a half-century Riverside served Wichita, Caddo, and Delaware students, and in 1922 Kiowa enrolled there after Rainy Mountain Mission School closed. Navajos began attending in 1945. Riverside presently has students from dozens of Indian nations attending grades four through twelve. Admission requires a Certified Degree of Indian Blood. Riverside's board of education, administration, staff, and faculty are predominantly American Indian. The State of Oklahoma and the North Central Association of Secondary Schools and Elementary Schools accredit the school, which offers numerous specialized academic programs. Its athletic department is governed by the rules and regulations of the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activity Association.

Riverside's history is a part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs federal boarding school system that originated with Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Indian boarding school-system curricula generally emphasized agriculture to 1910, vocational education to 1960, academics to 1990, and college preparation in the 1990s. Cultural programming was introduced in the 1960s. Approximately six hundred students were enrolled at Riverside during the early twenty-first century.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: David Wallace Adams, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928 (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1995). 100th Year: Riverside Indian School, Anadarko, Oklahoma (Anadarko, Okla.: N.p., 1971). Ruby W. Shannon,"Friends" for the Indians: 100 Years of Education at Riverside Indian School, Anadarko, Oklahoma (Anadarko, Okla.: Riverside Indian School, 1971).

Pamela Koenig

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