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About Smoke signals. (Grand Ronde, Or.) 19??-current | View Entire Issue (Aug. 15, 2013)
AUGUST 15, 2013
Smoke Signals 7
Tiro be aids CDnemawa CemrDeftenry project
to locate gravesites
at Indian School site
By Ron Karten
Smoke Signals staff writer
SALEM The first grave at Che
mawa Cemetery was for Charles
Lawrey, who died in 1868.
Because Chemawa Indian School
was not founded until 1886, this
is one of many curiosities that
Marsha Small (Northern Chey
enne) has come across during her
master's work in Native American
studies at Montana State Univer
sity in Bozeman.
The most recent burial occurred
in 1986 for Cecil Bremner.
It appears that two sisters who
are buried at Chemawa died on the
same day, Small said.
"Tuberculosis and Spanish in
fluenza was rampant then," she
Her master's project is "Preser
vation Of Sacred Sites and Sacred
Places with Geo-Reference Data"
and subtitled "A Voice for the Chil
dren of Chemawa Cemetery." The
goals are to identify as many of the
more than 200 gravesites as pos
sible, to clean up the cemetery and
keep it that way into the seventh
At the moment, the cemetery's
dried tan grasses are newly cut.
Three gravesites are adorned with
ageless American flags and a few
others are remembered with faded
and dried flowers. Plastic flowers
are posted on the fencing around
Almost 25 100-year-old Douglas
fir trees in the cemetery are ap
proaching maturity and will have
to be watched, said Briece Edwards,
Grand Ronde Tribal archaeolo
gist. As the highest points in the
area, the trees are susceptible to
lightning and blow over. With roots
going out as far as the branches, a
blow over could disturb graves in
Many, if not most, of the graves
are for children and teachers at
"The voices of the children called
to us," said Small.
"It's for the children who may
not have had a good crossing," said
The project is still in mid-stage,
building up to a closing ceremony
in fall 2014 for the children buried
Small is working on the project in
conjunction with cultural leaders at
the Grand Ronde Tribe, the Con
federated Tribes of Siletz Indians,
the Klamath Tribe, the Nuwuvi
Nation (Paiute) and Chemawa In
While the Grand Ronde Tribe is
contributing to this project with
staff time and equipment, Small is
working as an intern in the Land
and Culture Department.
"It's an example of Tribes work
ing together in a good way," said
Small. She said that she could not
have done it without the help of the
Land and Culture staff.
Grand Ronde Tribal
The Tribal Housing Authority is out of Tribally
funded down payment assistance at this time.
Student Rental Assistance grant update
The Tribal Housing Authority is happy to announce that the Stu
dent Rental Assistance program will be reinstated effective Sept.
1 as anticipated. For students who were on the program when
it was suspended, you will not need to submit a new application
simply make sure you have sent Deborah Kroeker your grades
from the last term and your schedule for the new term. If your
classes start in August, you will not receive an August prorated
assistance check. Your assistance will start effective Sept. 1.
For students new to the SRA program, you will need to submit
an application as soon as possible. They are available at the www.
grtha.org along with instructions or you can pick them up at the
Housing offices. There is a "30 day prior to the first day of school"
application deadline. Because of timing issues, if your classes
start in August, we will waive that requirement and hold to a "7
days prior to the first day of school" deadline. But again, that is
only for students whose classes start in August. The rest of you
still need to get completed applications to us 30 days before your
first day of class.
Please direct any questions to SRAgrandronde.org.
------ t t i - i
" A "
Photo by Michelle Alalmo
From left, Melisa Chandler, Tribal compliance officer, Briece Edwards, Tribal
archaeologist, and Marsha Small (Cheyenne) work together to create a
measured drawing of Chemawa Cemetery in Salem on Wednesday, Aug.
7. Small is a graduate student working on her master's degree in Native
American studies at Montana State University. Her master's project is titled
"A Voice for the Children of Chemawa Cemetery."
Her master's work has focused on
the preservation of sacred sites and
places. Her master's thesis, which
will come out of this work, started
when she put out word through her
network that she was looking for a
project "with heart."
Input came from Siletz Culture
Resource Director Robert Kennta
and Grand Ronde Cultural Pro
tection Program Manager Eirik
Thorsgard. She had worked with
Kennta suggested the Chemawa
Cemetery project and Thorsgard
"Chemawa is an educational
center serving the Northwest," said
Thorsgard, "and in the heart of our
ceded lands. Of course, it is impor
tant to us. The problem with Che
mawa is we don't know how much
knowledge of the site is lost."
Some has been recorded at Che
mawa Indian School's Facilities
Department in a 1960 map. For the
others, "marking the graves means
we can protect them," Thorsgard
The project has involved many
staff members from Land and Cul
ture, some of whom will use the
Tribe's ground penetrating radar
to search for objects below.
"We're looking for disturbances of
the soils," said Edwards.
Needing different methodologies,
Edwards and Melisa Chandler, a
compliance technician in Land and
Culture, also used 100-foot measur
ing tapes to mark off the 208-foot
square cemetery in one-yard incre
ments. They then checked down the
lines of the tape measures both by
looking and, as one more example,
by shuffling a foot along each line
feeling for slumps in the ground
surface or hidden grave stones.
These indicate potential areas of
concern that may correlate with in
formation they get from the ground
penetrating radar data.
"We call them converging lines
of evidence," Edwards said. "Half
of the work is getting the data and
half is post-processing, putting
different sections together and
Small also is working with Che
mawa Indian School's Facilities
Supervisor Shaun Naranjo and
Tim Pigsley, also from Facilities,
who mowed the cemetery for this
project. Naranjo also has given
Small access to the 1960 map of
the cemetery. She will correlate
what she finds from the radar, the
physical map drawn for this project
and the 1960 map for confirmation
Topology, the study of a land
surface, also is recorded for what
it may tell about the history of the
"Nobody's going to dig up graves,"
said Small, "so this will be the best
When she approaches the cem
etery, Small comes with song. She
also offers tobacco, burns sage and
prays in the four directions and
then down at the graves.
"I want them to know that we are
being respectful; we honor their
presence. To get closure, we are
doing this in a good way," Small
Part of the project is the public
information component some to
news outlets and some through
public presentations. One public
presentation included Bureau of
Indian Affairs Archaeologist B.J.
Howarton in the audience.
Small has spent $7,000 of her own
money. Chemawa Indian School is
providing staff support, but other
wise is free of expenses because of
She is embarking on a fundrais
ing drive to keep maintenance and
security components viable. She is
calling on the Chemawa family of
teachers and students, today and
in the past, as well as wider Indian
Country to volunteer and help
raise money. Small can be reached
through the Grand Ronde Tribal
Land and Culture Department.
For as long as anybody can re
member, the cemetery has been
under Native American steward
ship. With this latest project, the
stewardship continues into the