Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Intermountain Indian School Continued

Continued from the thesis "The Intermountain Indian School" by Lewis A. Williams 1991

Watkins proposed to transform the abandoned Bushnell hospital in to a Navajo boarding school for 4,000. "A 2,000 student facility was subsequently accepted. By May, 1949, Congress approved $3,750,000 for remodeling.

January 1950, the "world's largest boarding school" opened to 520 pupils. Because most of these first students had little or no education and  spoke no English, the curriculum reflected these most pressing needs. Vocational training became the second strongest emphasis. The major goal, however,was to educate the Indians to participate in American life and offer tools for success. 

The Intermountain School operated as a Navajo boarding school until the early 1970's. The Navajo Nation made several threats to close the school and retain the federal expenditures to educate students on the reservation. At the same time Brigham City officials fought to keep the school viable and against the Navajo's wishes offered to open enrollment to all tribes.

In August, 1974, members of 27 different tribes, including Navajos, were in attendance. Trouble erupted. For three consecutive nights in February, 1975, rioting occurred between Navajo and non-Navajo students. The situation quieted, but the school's status was never secure after this incident. Enrollment decreased. These difficulties coincided with the inception of a new governmental policy for Native peoples: Self-determination. Under the administration of President Richard Nixon, this policy removed federal controls and allowed Indians to govern and control their own destinies. The trouble with this policy at Intermountain Inter-Tribal School was that all 27 tribes vied for power and self-interest. Mistrust flourished in this atmosphere, as did fiscal and administrative problems. The school closed its doors for good on May 17, 1984."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A librarian at this school instilled in me a deep love of reading; I am thankful for all the teachers who taught me to read and write and understand a foreign language, English. I was a student there 1951-56. Three older sisters also attended, two "graduating" in 1956.