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American History
Tribes plan to refurbish Chilocco school in south-central Kansas


Associated Press

Five American Indian tribes plan to renovate and refurbish a historic Indian school into a living history museum, a tribal leader said.

The 165-acre site once housed the Chilocco Indian School, which educated thousands of American Indians of various tribes from 1884 until it closed in 1980.

"We are trying to return it to its glory days, and have extensive economic development plans," said Michael Harwell, chairman of the Otoe-Missouria tribe.

The Chilocco property, which has more than 70 buildings, was listed last month in the National Register of Historic Places, although some of the buildings are in bad need of repair.

"This is the second oldest Indian school property after another school in Carlisle in Pennsylvania," Harwell said.

Harwell said he met Friday with other tribal leaders from the Five Tribes of Chilocco, the Tonkawa tribe; the Kaw Nation; the Ponca Nation and the Pawnee Tribe.

"We are looking at doing a master plan and bringing in a major developer such as Disney," Harwell said. Another planning session on the project was scheduled for Wednesday.

The area around the school has recently been the site of new development, including the opening of the Native Lights Casino, a travel plaza and plans by the Pawnee Nation for a casino resort with a hotel and restaurant.

Donna Jones Flood, historian with a Chilocco alumni group, said having the property listed on the national register will give Chilocco tribal leaders a chance to receive grants to improve the property.

"Things are looking good," said Flood, of Ponca City. "It'll be good for Ark City; it'll be a plus."

Arkansas City is in south-central Kansas near the Oklahoma border.

Information from: Arkansas City Traveler

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