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Oregon Leaders Plan Congressional Hearings On Chemawa Indian School

March 21, 2019
In The News

Twice in nine months, at least three members of Oregon’s congressional delegation have paid a visit to a little-known school in Salem run by the federal government.

“The goal was to find out what the hell is going on,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader, still fuming from a tense, 75-minute discussion at Chemawa Indian School, one of just four off-reservation boarding schools in the country.

Chemawa has drawn Native American teenagers to its Salem campus from all over the western U.S. since the 1880s, though its mission has changed away from its racist, assimilationist past. But tribal leaders and members of Oregon’s congressional delegation have been concerned that Chemawa is mismanaged and falling short of its mission, to serve as a refuge for Native youth, in search of stability and education.

Schrader visited the school Wednesday with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and Sen. Jeff Merkley.

All three members came away disappointed and frustrated. Bonamici recalls reading up on Chemawa Tuesday night, before the visit.

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