- By Jenna Kunze
This month, we’re compiling questions that our readers are asking us about Indian Boarding Schools and offering answers as reported by our team.
Today’s reader question about Indian Boarding Schools comes from Loretta O., who asked us:
What is the number of children buried at Chemawa Indian Boarding School?
Our reporter Jenna Kunze, who has written nearly half of our 100-plus stories about Indian Boarding Schools, provides this answer.
According to Native News Online's interview with the expert who has been surveying the grounds of Chemawa Indian Boarding School in central Oregon for eight years, the school has at least 222 unmarked graves belonging to Native children.
In January, Native News Online interviewed Marsha Small (Northern Cheyenne), a doctoral candidate at Montana State University who has been working with ground-penetrating radar for almost a decade. She is researching its use to locate and document deaths at two Indian boarding-school cemeteries: Chemawa Indian School, north of Salem, Ore., and another on-reservation boarding school in South Dakota.
Since 2014, Small has been surveying the cemetery at Chemawa, the longest-running Indian boarding school in the country. Opened in 1880, it is still operating today, now under the federal government’s Bureau of Indian Education. Through her work, Small located 222 unmarked graves, more than the 208 that records said existed there.
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