The Run for the Children event started at sunrise (~5:30 am) on Saturday, July 10th. It was held to honor children and survivors of indigenous residential schools and specifically to raise awareness for the indigenous youth buried in unmarked graves at the Chemawa School in Salem.
Runners gathered at the End of the Oregon Trail Center in Oregon City and the run ended at the Chemawa Indian school in Salem, a distance of over 40 miles. Prior to leaving the center there was a very moving ceremony of singing and prayer.
The event organizers sent out a request for reflective vests. Members of XRPDX (Diana, Lorene and Mark) showed up at sunrise with about a dozen vests. Our support of the event is tied to our 4th Demand:
“…establishes reparations and remediation led by and for Black people, Indigenous people, people of color and poor communities for years of environmental injustice..…”
The event was covered by the Salem Statesman Journal.
Chemawa is a federally-funded residential boarding school for indigenous youth from throughout the western United States. It is operated by the Bureau of Indian Education and is one of four of its kind in the country. It primarily serves students of tribes from the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. In recent years, the school has come under fire from critics after four students died at the school or shortly after leaving it.
Four off-reservation Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding schools are still in use. Besides Chemawa Indian there is the Sherman Indian School in Riverside, California, Flandreau Indian School in Flandreau, South Dakota, and Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Oklahoma. Native boarding schools have a grim history. Native children were taken from homes, abused, forced to assimilate and used as leverage against tribes who resisted U.S. expansion. Finally, this information is seeing the light of day. In June, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) announced plans for the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, a first-of-its-kind “comprehensive review” of the U.S. government’s history of separating Native children from their families and forcing them into boarding schools.