Published December 24, 2017
NEWKIRK, OKLAHOMA — Facing opposition from several Oklahoma American Indian tribes to conduct chemical testing on the grounds of the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School in north-central Oklahoma, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it is suspending plans to perform the tests.
The DHS announced plans in November to conduct the tests. At the time, DHS said the chemicals not harmful to human beings. The tests were going to assess to evaluate the buildings on the school grounds to protect occupants from biological hazards. The school closed in 1980 when Congress stopped funding its operation.
“Using several inert chemical and non-hazardous biological simulant materials, the tests were to be conducted by the University Multispectral Laboratories, LLC, on grounds leased from the Council of Confederate Chilocco Tribes. Proposed testing was planned for the months of February and June/July 2018, and in turn a public comment period was opened through December 8, 2017,” reads a statement from DHS.
The land at the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School is owned by five American Indian tribes called the Council of Confederated Chilocco tribes, which include the Kaw Nation, Otoe-Missouria Tribe, Pawnee Nation, Ponca Tribe and Tonkawa Tribe. The tribes strongly opposed the testing on the grounds of the school.
“We stand united in opposition to the use of Chilocco for testing of potentially dangerous substances,” John Shotton, chairman of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe, says. “Many of our tribal members went to school here. Indian children are buried here.”
The DHS statement continues:
“During the public comment period, DHS received many comments objecting to the proposed tests at the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School. Based on the comments received from tribes, states, and local governments, as well as the concerns expressed from residents in the proposed test area, DHS is suspending plans to perform the proposed tests. While the work remains very important for the security of our nation, further evaluation will be conducted to identify the best location for future testing.”