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Media Articles - 2000s

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3 December 2002
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Tribal leaders trying to find use for empty Chilocco school building

Associated Press
November 12, 2001

The five American Indian tribes that own the Chilocco school north of Newkirk are looking for a new tenant.

Narconon, a drug-treatment center that uses saunas, vitamins and a special diet as part of its program, left the campus for its new site on Lake Eufaula in Pittsburg County.

The five tribes that own the campus - Kaw, Ponca, Otoe, Pawnee and Tonkawa - have formed the Confederated Tribes of Chilocco to find a way to use the 100-year-old campus.

"It's just a matter of finding something that will fit," said Wanda Stone, chairwoman of the Kaw Tribe. "It's going to take money to operate it."

The tribes have hired a consultant, who will issue a report by the end of the year, to determine what would be the best uses for the Chilocco campus. Some of the possibilities are for gaming, fun parks, a museum and an Indian junior college.

Any money made from business on the campus would benefit tribal projects such as health services and scholarships, Stone said.

The site needs repair.

Tribal leaders are working with Narconon to repair some of the buildings. Narconon officials took parts from some buildings to repair others.

Each tribe has contributed $4,000 to try to improve the grounds, although some of the buildings may be beyond restoration, Stone said.

Chilocco was established in 1882 for American Indian students as a four-year academic and trade school. The school closed in 1980 because of low enrollment and the land reverted back to the Cherokee Tribe, which gave it and its 167 acres to the other tribes.

Pawnee Nation President Bob Chapman said the Cherokees also gave 830 acres from the surrounding area to each tribe.

The tribes leased the land to Narconon in 1989, but the document didn't include an audit provision.

Stone said tribal leaders couldn't determine if the group was paying the correct amount.

Chapman said the contract gave each tribe a few thousand dollars each year but exact figures aren't available.

After mediation, a new contract was signed in January 2000 requiring Narconon to leave the campus within three years.