Chemawa Indian School is a federal boarding school for Native American students located five miles north of Salem, Oregon. The school first opened as the Forest Grove Indian Industrial Training School in 1880, then moved to its current location in 1885.
Chemawa was part of a system of residential schools that aimed to eradicate Native culture. For decades, it took children away from their families when they were as young as six and punished them for speaking their own languages or practicing their own traditions. Chemawa is still open as a federally operated boarding school for Natives, although it is a very different place now than it once was.
This site brings together information about students who died at the school: their names and burial locations as well as a timeline, and notes about the research process with citations for sources. Hundreds of students died while in custody of the school. Infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, meningitis or influenza were the most common cause of death. Records found so far indicate that:
- At least 270 students died in custody of the schools between 1880-1945
- Approximately 175 Chemawa students were buried in the Chemawa School Cemetery
- 2 students were buried in the Forest View Cemetery in Forest Grove
- Remains of approximately 40 students were returned home near the time of their deaths between 1880-1945
- The locations of approximately 50 student remains are still unaccounted for
As research continues, this site will be updated with additional information and citations.