fbpx
 
Chemawa Indian School

Salem, Ore. — With students who come from tribes across the west, the Chemawa Indian School in Oregon will start out online in September due to COVID-19 concerns.

More than 125 years old, Chemawa is the oldest continuously operated boarding school for Native American students in the United States and one of 185 U.S. Bureau of Indian Education schools. The school has major tribal representation from across most of the western United States including White Mountain Apache, Tohono O'odham, Navajo, Gila River, San Carlos Apache, Warm Springs, Assinaboine/Sioux, Arapaho, Pueblo of Acoma, Oglala Sioux, Crow, Blackfeet and Alaska Natives.

According to the BIE website, due to COVID-19 concerns, closures of bureau-operated schools and off-reservation boarding schools are approved on a case by case basis to match local and state needs. When the pandemic hit the U.S., all BIE schools were closed by Mar. 23.

To safely reopen school sites in 2020-2021, the BIE sought tribal leader and other stakeholder input for the draft School Reopening Plan through July 29. Consultation sessions on the plan were held July 9 and July 10, and the BIE conducted a formal consultation webinar session on July 14. During the webinar, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy and Economic Development for Indian Affairs, Mark Cruz (Klamath Tribe), said the BIE also solicited views about the reopening from parents through a survey that was available until July 17. The BIE School Reopening Plan will provide directives to schools for developing individual school site reopening strategies.

“Our numbers in Oregon of COVID-19 cases have gone up dramatically in the past couple weeks,” Diane McGinnis, a teacher at Chemawa, told BIE leaders during the July 14 conference call. “And I guess my question is, what happens if the numbers do not go down? Are we going to still plan on opening at the end of, or at the beginning of September, and bring students into an area that is potentially dangerous?”

BIE Director Tony Dearman (Cherokee) responded to McGinnis’s concerns by saying, “That's what we're really needing the input from our stakeholders for, because not one plan is going to fit anywhere.”

According to a recent report from The Oregonian, “At least 66 Oregonians have died since July 12, a sum that has already surpassed Oregon’s deadliest three-week stretch from late March into April.”

More Stories Like This

Bard College Gets $50 Million Boost for Indigenous Studies Program
American Indian College Fund President Cheryl Crazy Bull Named Member of the Thrive Leaders Network
Princeton University to Provide Financial Assistance to Students Whose Families Earn Less Than $100K
Can Better Data Help UM Retain Indigenous Students?
New Study Reveals Challenges of College Affordability for Native Students

Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news? 

For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Nanette Kelley
Author: Nanette KelleyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Nanette Kelley (Osage Nation/Cherokee Nation) is a contributing writer to Native News Online. She covers tribes throughout California. She can be reached at [email protected]