The story behind Indian School Road in Phoenix
I've always found it fascinating that the names of streets in a city can be a clue to its history, and Phoenix, Arizona is no exception. And one of the most fascinating "windows into the past" is Indian School Road.
Yes, Phoenix had a school that was only for Indians. It was established in 1891 by the United States Government for the Pima people. Eventually, it was opened up to many different tribes, from many states, including California. It closed in 1990, and even for people who lived in Phoenix during that time, it was mostly a place of mystery.
I am reluctant to share what I am learning about the United States Indian School at Phoenix. It seems to bring out what I call "all of the convictions of the uninformed". It seems that the less people know about it, the louder they are. And there are some people who would like to erase this part of history. But, to me, it's an important part of the history of Phoenix, of Arizona, and of the Southwestern United States, including California.
Understanding the history of Indian peoples in the United States is no place for shortcuts. If you're curious about it, that's a good start. And if you hear a simple answer, chances are that it is very wrong. And I can't help but wonder if some city council or other would like to rename Indian School Road, and erase it. But fortunately, they can't. It's woven into over 100 years of Phoenix history, and it deserves its place.
Pictured above: The United States Indian School at Phoenix in 1909, Central Avenue and Indian School Road. Now the location of Steele Indian School Park.
Understanding the Phoenix Indian School
Understanding the alliance of the Pima, Maricopa, and Papago Indians with the Phoenix pioneers
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Posted by Brad Hall