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Chilocco - Today and Yesterday



(left to right" Charmaine,  Arlington and Garland ponder the next move to make at our Northwestern Chilocco Chapter meeting, January, 16, 2009)

In 2007, the National Congress of American Indians passed a resolution stating that “if there was ever a place in America where so many tribes and nations could call common ground, Chilocco would be that place.”

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation recently provided $25,000 in funding to assist in the restoration project at Chilocco School, a former Native American boarding school located in the old Cherokee Strip of Kay County.
 

“We are pleased to be a partner in this restoration effort,” said Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.  “During its operation, Chilocco School brought together thousands of Indian students from more than 120 tribes across the country.  It is the duty of all tribes to participate in preserving this common ground for future generations to remember the Indian boarding school era.”
 

In 1880, the United States government created five original boarding schools across the country, once of which was the Chilocco School.  Of the five schools, the Chilocco School site is the only remaining place in the U.S. where many tribes can share a common ground, and is the only school of the original five available for development today.
 

Numerous Cherokee students lived at and attended the school.  In its heyday, Chilocco was the only Indian school that was totally self-sufficient, complete with running water.  Courses of study included a nursing program, clerical studies, printing, farm and agricultural programs and crafts such as horseshoeing and welding.  The school even had a competitive football team.
 

“The buildings were beautiful in their day,” said Linda Donelson, Director of Real Estate Services for the Cherokee Nation. “The entire campus was very impressive.”
 

After 96 years of service, operation of the school ended in 1980.  Today, the campus has approximately 70 buildings and is governed by the Council of Confederated Chilocco Tribes, consisting of the Kaw, Otoe-Missouria, Pawnee, Ponca and Tonkawa Nations.  The Cherokee Nation owns thousands of acres of land surrounding the campus, including the entrance to the school.
 

In 2007, the National Congress of American Indians passed a resolution stating that “if there was ever a place in America where so many tribes and nations could call common ground, Chilocco would be that place.”
 

Today, the Chilocco Benefit Association is spearheading the restoration project of the campus and its buildings, with the idea that the site should symbolically belong to the collective body of American Indians who have a heritage of the Indian boarding school legacy.
 

For more information on the Chilocco School site or of the restoration project, visit www.chilocco-benefit.org
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Most of the alumni say this is "beating a dead horse." I don't feel that way.  I just think the world should know about what the folks mean when they say "speaks with a forked tongue." 

We as a nation of Native Americans were robbed, first of our land, and then of our way of educating our children so that they could cope with the world around them.  

The horse may be dead, but these visual images are there to note and record the way we have been treated in having our greatest gift taken from us, the ways and means for educating our children, mind you, not in the Native customs, but the way of the conquering peoples.

Even with the education given to me from Chilocco it has not been easy to survive in this world, but without that I can't imagine having been able to cope as far as and providing for a family.

See a slide show of pictures of Chilocco on Flickr


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