"Forward You Must Go": Chemawa Indian Boarding School and Student Activism in the 1960s and 1970s
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High school student activism at Chemawa Indian School, a Native American boarding school in Oregon, transformed the curriculum, policies, and student life at Chemawa. Historians have neglected post-WWII boarding school stories, yet both the historical continuities and changes in boarding school life are significant. Using the student newspaper, the <italic>Chemawa American,</italic> I argue that during the 1960s, Chemawa continued to encourage Christianity, relegate heritage to safety zones, and rely on student labor to sustain the school. In the 1970s, Chemawa students, in part influenced by the Indian Student Bill of Rights, brought self-determination to Chemawa. Students organized clubs exploring Navajo, Alaskan, and Northwest Indian cultures and heritages. They were empowered to change rules such as the dress code provision dictating the length of hair. When the federal government threatened to close Chemawa many students fought to keep their school open even in the face of rapidly declining enrollment rates.