The History of Jones Academy
The history of our Native American boarding school is deeply intertwined with a remarkable history of the Choctaw and early settlement of the United States. We are proud that Jones Academy continues its mission over 100 years after its founding.
The Choctaw – a quiet, kind people lived – in present-day Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. Their rural, agrarian life changed, due to the impact of white settlement. To co-exist, the Choctaw tried to understand and adopt the new ways.
The Choctaw became one of the first tribes to build schools and provide education for their people.
As desire for Indian lands grew, the US Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830. The Choctaw were the first moved to present-day Oklahoma, as part of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Over 20,000 Choctaw began the journey; however, thousands died in what would later be called by Choctaw leaders as the “Trail of Tears.” Christian missionaries arrived in Oklahoma to assist the Indians. The Choctaw accepted an alien religion, constitution, and legal system. Almost immediately, the missionaries began building schools to integrate the Choctaw into these new lands.
Jones Academy, was established and named after a Choctaw Chief born in Mississippi, who traveled with his family to Oklahoma over the Trail of Tears. Chief Wilson N. Jones had little formal education but believed strongly that education would help his tribe.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs ceased funding of academic and vocational activities at most Indian boarding schools. Jones Academy students began attending the Hartshorne Public Schools.
Wheelock Academy, a non-reservation girls’ boarding school near Millerton in McCurtain County closed in 1955, after having been in operation since 1839. Upon its closure, approximately fifty-five girls transferred to Jones Academy. Our school became a co-educational boarding dormitory for the first time since its founding in 1891.
The Choctaw Nation became the first American Indian tribe to operate a tribally-controlled grant school with the passing of the Indian Self Determination and Education Act and further legislation. Now known as a peripheral dormitory school, Jones Academy high school students are still part of the Hartshorne School District.
Heard in our Halls
“I really want to be a mechanical engineer, and I love that I get to take classes that will help me be one someday.”