NAME: Diana Fletcher
DATE OF BIRTH: 1838?
PLACE OF BIRTH: Oklahoma (Indian Territory)
EDUCATION: Diana learned traditional Kiowa crafts from her step-mother: sewing, cooking, tanning buffalo hides, making teepees, and basketweaving. When the members of the tribe raised enough money, they built a small school and hired a teacher. The Black Indian schools were operated by what were known as The Five Civilized Tribes: the Creek, Chicasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, and Seminole. Some sources say Diana taught fellow Native Americans.
FAMILY BACKGROUND: Diana's father was born in Virginia. His parents were born in Africa and brought to America as slaves. While still a young child he was sold to a man who lived in Florida. He ran away and lived with the Seminole Indians. Though still a slave, they treated him better than his former master. He married a Seminole woman. She died on "The Trail of Tears," the forced relocation of Indians to Oklahoma.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Diana's main accomplishment was valuing and preserving her family's history, culture and values, while, at the same time, learning to adjust and adapt to white American society. Because of ignorance, prejudice and racial hostility, the U.S. government attempted to force Black Indians, as well as all Native Americans, to reject their heritage. Because people like Diana maintained their traditions, we can now learn about their important contributions to the history of America.
Some sources say Diana attended the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia (later called the Hampton Institute), although listings of students do not reflect this. However, the history of these schools relates to her biography so we include this, and web links below.
The Hampton government boarding school was opened for Black students in 1868, with the intent of educating by training "the head, the hand, and the heart" so pupils could return to their communities as leaders and professionals among their people. In 1878, the institute opened its doors to Indians. The following year, in a grand experiment led by Capt. Richard Henry Pratt, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvannia, was opened as a way to assimilate Indians into "civilized" society, although without the intent of returning graduates to their communities.
Kiowa Indians, as well as thousands of Native Americans from many, many other tribes, did attend these schools. (For more information, see the bibliography and websites listed below.)
DATE OF DEATH: unknown
PLACE OF DEATH: unknown
PORTRAYED BY: Sherrie Tolliver
Diana Fletcher - Outlaw Women
Black Indians Want a Place in History - AfricanAmericans.Com
The African-Native American History & Genealogy Web Page - Comprehensive site with many links, created by Angela Y. Walton-Raji
Black Seminole Indians - Texas State Historical Association
Hampton Institute - a brief history of the college that opened its doors to Native Americans in 1878.
Hampton Institute - a RootsWeb history and collection
The Carlisle Indian Industrial School - a website dedicated to this experimental school
Hampton Normal & Agricultural Institute - a listing of American Indian Students, 1878-1923
Let All That Is Indian Within You Die! - The Reservation Boarding School System in the U.S., 1870-1928
The Trail of Tears - a description of the Cherokee removal
Presented by Lakewood Public Library