The gate to Chemawa Indian School.

The gate to Chemawa Indian School.

Rob Manning/OPB

Nearly five months after demanding answers about problems at a federal boarding school for Native American students, Oregon’s congressional delegation still hasn’t gotten a response.

A series of stories from OPB found numerous problems at the Chemawa Indian School – including health and safety shortcomings, questionable diplomas and retaliation by administrators against concerned teachers.

Six members of Oregon’s congressional delegation wrote to top federal officials in November, demanding answers. In February, the Bureau of Indian Education director appeared before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where he was questioned by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon. Bonamici asked BIE Director Tony Dearman about the congressional letter. Dearman said a response was “in review.” But still nothing has come out.   

Rep. Kurt Schrader's congressional district includes Chemawa.

Rep. Kurt Schrader’s congressional district includes Chemawa.

Alan Sylvestre/OPB

Chemawa is in the district belonging to Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon, and even before the joint letter was sent in November, Schrader had expressed concerns about what was found in OPB’s investigation. Since the letter, Schrader said he’s reached out to the Bureau repeatedly without success.

In an email to OPB, Schrader said, “BIE’s dereliction of duty toward Native American youth is outrageously unacceptable.”

He cited “actual cases of life and death” in calling for the agency to move quickly to address the issues.

After OPB contacted the Bureau last week, a spokeswoman scheduled a call with Schrader’s office for April 10.

Schrader has previously suggested a possible outside investigation.