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12AD.7.5b Outing System, Cora Charlie and Beatrice Crutcher

Sherman student Cora Charlie and home economics teacher Beatrice Crutcher holding a vacuum

circa 1950
Sherman Indian Museum

Outing System, Cora Charlie and Beatrice Crutcher, circa 1950; Sherman Indian Museum collection, Sherman Indian Museum

Instead of earning income from their work, Native American students at Sherman Institute earned scrip. Look closely at the images and text on the scrip. What does this tell us about the students' experiences at the school? What does this tell us about the power the school had over its students? How might you feel receiving scrip instead of real money for your work? How does the scrip provide evidence about which government agency had power in Native students' lives?
The students at Sherman earned wages that were paid to the school and deposited in the student's school account. Paid in scrip, students could only use this currency on the Sherman Institute campus to buy sundry items. According to historian Michelle Lorimer, the school economy was complex. Another example of this exchange was the purchasing of baskets from the parents of Native students (who sent baskets along with their kids) by Harwood Hall, Sherman's first superintendent, to provide the students with spending money. Your students might want to engage in a visual analysis of the scrip. Ask them to survey the designs and text on this image of the scrip. After understanding the literal details and purpose of the "money," ask them to make connections between government agencies, the school, and students' autonomy.