‘Historical pattern of disregard’: inside one of the last remaining US Indigenous boarding schools | Oregon
, 2022-12-17 05:02:00,
gMelissa Abel was kayaking in Idaho, and she wanted to be a vet. Her mother, Teresa Keith, said the teen once found a bird struggling to breathe. I pulled the pebbles from his throat and watched until they flew away.
Keith, who had not been taught Indigenous culture, wanted her daughter to connect with her Alaskan, Thabaskan, Haida, and Aleut Native heritage. There were few options for a Native American education nearby, but Keith’s parents attended a school in Oregon: the Chimawa Indian School. It is one of four remaining boarding schools for Indigenous children operated by the United States government, and is the oldest continuously operating Indigenous boarding school in the country.
Although Abel and Keith’s stepfather had some reservations—the school’s application form asked if Abel was a court guard, had been arrested, was on probation or was undergoing treatment—they saw it as an opportunity for Abel to meet other Aboriginal children And explore the world.
Abell was accepted and traveled to Oregon in the spring of 2014. She passed a mandatory physical exam to return that fall. But on December 14, 2014, Abel’s roommate woke up hitting a wall and saying “I can’t breathe,” according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office report. She runs down the hall to find the dorm staff but is unable to find anyone and returns to see the students trying to help Abel. Another student ran to find someone and this time stumbled upon an employee who called 911. The employee asked for help with…
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