Indian Boarding Schools: Readers Ask Us

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This month, we compile the questions our readers ask us about Indian boarding schools and offer answers as reported by our team.

Today’s reader question about Indian boarding schools comes from Loretta O., who asked us:

How many children are buried at the Chemawa Indian Residential School?

Our reporter Jenna Kunze, who has written almost half of our more than 100 articles on residential schools, provides that answer.

According Native News online interview with the expert who surveyed the grounds of the Chemawa Indian Residential School in central Oregon for eight years, the school has at least 222 unmarked graves belonging to Native children.

In January, Indigenous News Online interviewed Marsha Small (Northern Cheyenne), a doctoral student at Montana State University who has worked with georadar for nearly a decade. She is studying its use to locate and document deaths at two Indian boarding school cemeteries: Chemawa Indian School, north of Salem, Oregon, and another on-reservation boarding school in South Dakota.

Since 2014, Small has surveyed the cemetery at Chemawa, the nation’s oldest residential school. Opened in 1880, it is still in operation today, now under the federal government’s Bureau of Indian Education. Through his work, Small located 222 unmarked graves, more than the 208 that records say existed there.

If you have any questions about Indian Residential Schools, please submit them to [email protected] or use the online form at the bottom of stories like this. Want to help us shine a light on the dark era of residential schools and their ongoing impact on Indigenous families and communities today? Become a recurring donor for $5 or $10 per month, or make a one-time donation.


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About the Author

Jenna Kunze
Author: Jenna KunzeE-mail: This email address is protected from spam. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Personal editor

Jenna Kunze is a reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. His bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Smithsonian Magazine and Anchorage Daily News. In 2020, she was one of 16 American journalists selected by the Pulitzer Center to report on the effects of climate change in the Arctic region of Alaska. Previously, she was a senior reporter at the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, Alaska. Kunze is based in New York.


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