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Chemawa Indian Boarding School
The Chemawa Indian Boarding School, part of Pacific University, was open in Forest Grove from 1880 - 1885. It was called the "Forest Grove Indian Training School," where students would learn necessary skills to become laborers, often housed with local Forest Grove families. It became the
Chemawa Indian School
when it moved to Salem, Oregon in 1885. It was the third such off-Reservation industrial boarding school for Native Americans that was created to assimilate colonized populations into white American culture, after the
Carlisle Indian Industrial School
(1879-1918) and the
Hampton Normal & Agricultural Institute
(1878-1923) . Land to farm seems to be the biggest reason why the college moved from Forest Grove to Salem; Newberg and Mcminville also offered land for the school. Today, it is one of the "oldest, continuously operated boarding school for Native American students in the United States" (
Pacific University: Digital Exhibits tagged "
Indian Training School
Chemewa Indian School
Chemawa Indian Boarding School
University of Washington Libraries - Digital Collections:
Assimilation through Education: Indian Boarding Schools in the Pacific Northwest
Indian Schools in Oregon
Chemawa School: An Oregon Cultural Treasure
The Native American youth that were boarded at the local school were from
communities in the present day area of Tacoma & Olympia, Washington. Children were separated from their traditional culture, values and language in order to be assimilated into European American culture.
Chemawa boarding school was modeled after the
Carlisle Indian School
(1879-1918) in Pennsylvania.
OSU Article, May 2014: "
In Forest Grove, Echoes of Chemawa Indian School
Primary Source Diary through National Archives:
Diary of the Disciplinarian and General Rules for Chemawa School, 1885-1889
Oregon Historical Quarterly
, Winter 2000, "Forest Grove and Chemawa Indian School: The First Off-Reservation Boarding School in the West," p.442-507.
Straughan, Cynthia. "Indian Education and Acculturation: The Forest Grove Industrial Training School, 1880-1885." Pacific University Student Thesis. Access full text online
The Chemewa Indian School today, in Salem, Oregon, is the "oldest continuously operating boarding school in the United States." (
"Chemewa History" from their website: "The history of Chemawa Indian School dates back to the 1870s when the U.S. Government authorized a school for Indian children in the Northwest. The official philosophy at that time was to integrate the Indian population into general society through education. Two Indian schools were in operation on the East Coast. A site was chosen at Forest Grove, on four acres of land rented from Pacific University. Lt. Melville Wilkinson of the U.S. Army and secretary to General O.O. Howard was in charge of the project. $5,000 was provided to start the school. Lt. Wilkinson, with the help of eight Puyallup Indian boys began construction on the buildings in 1880. The initial class of students consisted of fourteen boys and four girls. All the students came from the State of Washington, seventeen of them from the Puyallup Reservation on the Puget Sound and one boy from the Nisqually Reservation. These students were taught blacksmithing, shoemaking, carpentering, wagon making, girl's industries and advancement in studies. Prior to 1883, Congress was going to appropriate a larger amount of funds for Chemawa school. Several factors led to the search for a new site for the school, including local resistance to the school, a need for more land to teach farming skills, and the destruction of the girl's dormitory by fire in 1884."
Pacific University Library - Archives Department. The digital finding aid can be found
. The index information is below: "ACC.2011.66, Forest Grove Indian Training School Collection, 1 box, 1884-2011. Chiefly research notes and copies of material housed at other institutions. Three early items are present: 1. The Indian Citizen. Forest Grove: 1884. Vol. 1:1. 2. Pacific University Trustees autograph letter regarding the location of the school. Forest Grove: 1884. Contemporary copy in manuscript. 3. Typed transcripts of correspondence between Forest Grove Indian Training School alumnus, Henry Sicade, and Sam T. Walker, regarding memories of the school." (
). The collection also contains a bibliography of writings on the school (2008).
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