1879 Apr 8 The first superintendent of the Forest Grove Indian School, M.C. Wilkinson, asks permission from the U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs to begin a school for "Indian Youth" on the Pacific Coast.
1879 Dec Construction begins at the Forest Grove Indian School campus. (For more detail about this history, see: The Forest Grove Indian School)
1880 Feb 25 The Forest Grove Indian School officially opens with 4 girls and 14 boys from Puyallup.
1881 Oct 16 Martha Lot (Spokane) is the first student to die at the school. She is buried at the Forest View Cemetery in Forest Grove.
1883 Mar
-1885 Mar
Ten more students die in custody of the Forest Grove Indian School, mostly from tuberculosis. At least one (Hugh Victor, Umatilla) is still buried in the Forest View Cemetery. The remains of the other nine were probably sent home, although more research is needed to confirm this.
1884 Jul A government appropriation of $20,000 becomes available to build a new campus for the school.
1885 Feb The Oregon legislature votes to allow the U.S. government to take over the Chemawa land site north of Salem. This will be the new site of the school, which will be renamed "Chemawa Indian School."
1885 Mar 5 The first small group of students from Forest Grove arrives at Chemawa to begin clearing land.
1885 Mar 31 A Tulalip student, Jonathan Helm, is probably the last student to enroll at the Forest Grove campus before the school relocates to Chemawa. A total of 310 students have enrolled since 1880.
1885 May By this date, two-thirds of the student body has been transferred to the new campus at Chemawa, where they must live in temporary makeshift quarters. A small number of students continue living at the Forest Grove campus. At its new location, the school will become known by the name of closest railroad station, "Chemawa." Its official name goes through several changes: "Salem Indian School" (1885-1891); "Harrison Institute" (1891-1893); "Salem Indian School at Chemawa" (1893-1939); and finally "Chemawa Indian School"(July 1, 1939 -present). 
1885 May-Nov Four students die in school custody, probably at the Chemawa campus. Most of these students' remains are believed to have been returned home. In Fall of 1885 however, the Department of the Interior forbids the school from paying for additional shipping of student remains' home. Students who died after 1885 were usually buried in the Chemawa Cemetery, unless their families were able to make other arrangements.
1886 Feb Julia Jopps is the earliest confirmed burial at the Chemawa Indian School Cemetery. Her name is misspelled "Lapp" on the modern grave marker. Note: A student named Sarah Adams could possibly be the earliest burial there. She appears to have died while the school was still in Forest Grove, but may have been reinterred at Chemawa near her siblings. The grave marker present today is undated and has the name "Mincy Adams."
1886 Apr 3 All of the students have been transferred to Chemawa by this date. The Forest Grove Indian School campus is abandoned by the U.S. Government.
1886-1934 Students who died at Chemawa, as well as some employees and infant children, are buried in the Chemawa Cemetery. Of these:
  • 174 plots on the Chemawa Cemetery Map indicate burials of students
  • 18 plots indicate burials of staff, the children of staff, or others
  • Up to 40 plots may hold unrecorded burials of students and/or staff from this time period. Note: This estimate is derived by counting plots that lie adjacent to, or in-between, known grave sites on the cemetery map linked above. The actual number of unrecorded graves may be lower or higher. Additional research is necessary. 
  • The remains of some students who died at Chemawa were sent home to their families rather than being buried in the school cemetery. See the Detailed Spreadsheet for more information. 
1934 Jun Chemawa is slated for closure as part of a reform of federal tribal education. After lobbying from local and tribal communities, is remains open but with a lower budget and smaller population of students.
1934 Sep 13 Lyle Young (Siletz) is the last confirmed student burial in the Chemawa Cemetery during its first period of usage. After this date, it appears that when students died, their remains were usually returned home to their families.
1937-1944 Three burials occur at the Chemawa Cemetery: One is an infant, two are adults who may have been staff or former students of the school. (Other student deaths continue to occur, but their remains appear to have been returned to their homes.)
1945-1960 No burials are recorded in the Chemawa Cemetery during this time.
1960 According to one account, in this year the school decides to clean up the overgrown cemetery and to replace all the old and missing grave markers with new metal markers (Beaver Briefs, Winter 1993, p. 3). New markers are made in the school's shop and placed according to a grave plot map that had been made in 1940. A new Chemawa Cemetery Map is created. Note: This event may explain how/why some markers  appear to be placed incorrectly in the current cemetery. 
1961 Sep 16 An infant (possibly the child of an employee?) is buried in the Chemawa Cemetery.
1986-present A small number of additional interments of people with Chemawa connections occur at the Chemawa Cemetery, including members of the Pigsley and Bremner families.