Sage Memorial Hospital School of Nursing

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Sage Memorial School of Nursing, Ganado Mission
Location Jct. AZ 264 and 291, Navajo Reservation, Ganado, Arizona
Area 160 acres (65 ha)
Built 1930
Architect Presbyterian Board of Home Missions
Architectural style Mission Colonial Revival
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 09000082[1]
Added to NRHP January 16, 2009

Sage Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Ganado, Arizona was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark on January 16, 2008.[2]

The press release read:

Sage Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, Ganado Mission, AZ, the first accredited nursing program for Native American women in the United States, Sage Memorial Hospital School of Nursing provided Native American women with a professional nursing education. The school was a landmark institution in changing white attitudes toward the abilities of Native American people. The school attracted both Native American women as well as women from other minority groups. Eventually students representing over 50 different Native American tribes, as well as women of Mexican, Spanish, Inuit, Japanese, Filipino, and Chinese descent enrolled in the training program. The school’s diverse population clearly illustrates that access to an accredited nursing education was not, at that time, generally available within the United States to non-white students.

The education provided at Sage Memorial Hospital School of Nursing was of such a high quality that many white parents agitated to have their daughters admitted to the school. However, the director of Sage Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, Dr. Clarence G. Salsbury, made a calculated decision to maintain a nursing training program solely for minority students. This decision, made at a time when public education was actively segregated and minority children were refused entry to white schools, provides a unique and different insight into the doctrine of separate but equal educational opportunities.[2]


College of Ganado[edit]

Ganado was once home to the nursing school (founded in 1927) that would soon become the College of Ganado. The collegiate campus was located on the campus of the Presbyterian Mission. Several buildings, such as Adobe West Dormitory, Cedar Lodge, Locust Cottage, Greenawalt House, and Poncel Hall remain; many of the former campus buildings are utilized by Sage Memorial Hospital. Founded in 1901, the mission community soon elected to build a nursing school for the Ganado community in 1911. Dr. Clarence Salsbury and his wife Cora organized "the first nursing school for Native Americans at the mission in Ganado. The school trained some 100[3] women from more than twenty tribes and several foreign countries. The institution was accredited by the State of Arizona and its graduates were highly regarded in their field". Dr. William Worrall Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic was a guest lecturer there.[4]

Barbara Van Slyke Anderson, in her book Ákó hoo t'éé ñt'éé' , writes that Elma née Smith Salisbury was "the first Navajo to obtain a College diploma" at the nursing college. Howard W. Gorman, "an employee of the mission, who in 1933 was elected president of the Returned Students Association",[5] went on to become a legislator and advocate for the Navajo. The nursing school expanded into a 2 year community college in 1970.[6] The College of Ganado closed in 1986.


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