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Emma A. Keeler Diary

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: RC2022-013

Scope and Contents

The following description is from the the listing for Lot #208 from Auction Sale 421 - Western Art, Collectibles & Americana Book Online Auction from Brannian Auctions, LLC:

Notes from individual who read it: 1882 Diary with entries into 1930s, of Emma A. Keeler born on July 7th (unknown year) from Independence, Kansas. Keeler was a teacher at Pawhuska Oklahoma Indian School. Keeler was employed by Mr. Miles, the Indian Agent, in 1883. She taught a class of 27 students. The diary mentions living in Grangeville, Idaho and Billings, Montana. Keeler was also a writer for The Reporter in Oklahoma and part of an Institute (which is not defined further).

The diary includes notes from a journey to a teacher's conference in New York about sites Keeler visited, including seeing the Washington City electric lights on the dome of the Capitol. Other notes from the convention include her statement that her school is different from any other, indeed from anything else in the world.

The diary includes notes from others offering comments and advice on teaching Native American children. "Should not be taught it is a crime to speak the Indian language." A chief's son said, "Gentlemen I try to speak English." Keeler observes that some children have lost their native language. White Eagle's son from Ponca is drawn in an illustration.

A notable entry is from June 14, 1885, where Keeler outlines a War Dance that occured in May 1885 in honor of Nellie Sancy Chief who died. Strike Axe band joined the ceremony. The entry describes War and Peace mourning dances followed by Sundown Dance. In the War and Peace dance the two parties each had a standard bearer carrying the US flag and a drum on their back, followed by musicians beating upon the drum and singing mourning songs. This was repeated for three days. A visiting tribe offered a Sioux scalp which all the Osages touched, even little children, finishing the season of mourning. Keeler notes tribal members she was acquainted with as Tsa-no-pah-she, Kon-sa-wah-ti-n-kah, Tse-moi-heh and others.

Some entries from 1882 are obscured by the 1930s entries. These entries include prolific lists of correspondents, costs, sales of extracts, and subscriptions to the Young Crusader, whch is believed to be a part of the National Women's Christian Temperance Union. There is also a list of subscribers in Billings, Montana.

Some names mentioned in the diary include: Professor T. W. Conway, Governor St. John (prohibition platform), Mr. Linnaeus Roberts (school superintendent), Jackary Reece and Lucien Stevens, Antoine Penns Wacoo (Native American dancer), Penn Railroad, Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe, Chicago and Alton Railroad.


  • Creation: 1882 - circa 1930


Conditions Governing Access

The Emma A. Keeler Diary has no restrictions and is available for research. If you are interested in researching the materials, please contact the Dickinson Research Center to make an appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

The Emma A. Keeler Diary is the property of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Materials, even if owned by the NCWHM, may be protected under third party copyright. It is the patron’s responsibility to research and secure any such additional copyright and pay any required fees or royalties. It is not the intention of the NCWHM to impede upon any third party rights, and the NCWHM cannot be held responsible if the patron is involved in legal action due to violation of third party copyright claims.

Biographical / Historical

No biographical information for Emma A. Keeler is known at this time.

According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, three boarding schools existed in Pawhuska, Oklahoma during the time frame the diary was written. These schools were: McCabe Boarding School, Osage Boarding School, and St. Louis School for Osage Indian Girls. Boarding schools from this time period were either government-run or privately run, often by religious organizations.

For more in-depth information on federally-sponsored Indian boarding schools, including the ones located in Pawhuska, the DRC recommends the research and reports generated by the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. Currently, the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative is working to recognize the troubled legacy of federal Indian boarding school policies with the goal of addressing their intergenerational impact and to shed light on the traumas of the past. For more information, please visit


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Language of Materials



This collection contains the diary of Emma A. Keeler, who was a teacher at Pawhuska Oklahoma Indian School.

Processing Information

The Emma A. Keeler Diary was purchased by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in 2022 from Brannian Auction, LLC.

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Repository Details

Part of the NCWHM Special Collections at Dickinson Research Center Repository

1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City Oklahoma 73111 United States