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Chemawa Indian School Marks 140 Years Of Operation

Brian Bull

The nation’s longest-running Indian boarding school turns 140 today.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, the Chemawa Indian School in Salem held a birthday pow-wow event this weekend.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
The drum group, Turquoise Pride, performs a "victory charging" song at the Chemawa Indian School's 140th birthday pow-wow.

Originally started as a government-authorized initiative to assimilate native people, the school has weathered financial challenges, relocated campuses, and upheavals in both enrollment and staff.

In 2017, Oregon Public Broadcasting concluded a three-year investigation that found academic, health, and safety gaps, leading to reforms and more congressional oversight.

Today, Chemawa’s emphasis is on celebrating and preserving culture, and giving students the best preparation for success on and beyond its campus.

Several hundred people filled the Chemawa Indian School gym last Saturday for a day of dancing, singing, and drumming.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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