April 10, 2005

Giving and getting at St. Labre School: Northern Cheyenne sue for share of mission school's wealth

Billings Gazette

Of The Gazette Staff

ASHLAND - The mailroom buzzes at a frenetic pace at St. Labre Indian School.

Barely out of earshot of the hundreds of kids at recess, the warehouse-size room is alive with the precision sounds of mail being sorted, stuffed, bagged and boxed.

Last year, more than 17 million pieces of mail went out to potential donors who might be willing to write a check to the 121-year-old St. Labre school and mission.

About half of the mail is stuffed into envelopes on the school's campus here on the eastern edge of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. The rest is processed in Texas and Connecticut.

The direct-mail campaign, which began in the 1950s, is so large that it has its own ZIP code in this remote town of 450 people. ...

For some tribal members, though, the memories aren't all rosy.

The 12-page lawsuit filed by the tribe last month said many members of the tribe experienced physical and sexual abuse at St. Labre and had their culture "derided, ridiculed and dismissed as unimportant."

And while St. Labre has flourished, the Northern Cheyenne reservation has continued to struggle with poverty and unemployment.

Posted by kshaw at April 10, 2005 03:18 AM