Riverside Indian School celebrates 150th anniversary

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 7:01 PM CDT
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ANADARKO, Okla. (KSWO) - The Riverside Indian School is celebrating 150 years of housing and educating Native Americans that come from all different nations.

Riverside Indian School is the oldest, off reservation boarding school in the nation.

So students, staff and family from nations all around the world, are excited to celebrate 150 years of Riverside existing.

Since 1871, the boarding school has housed and taught indigenous kids basic curriculum, but also kept their culture a major priority.

History teacher Lee Juarez said Riverside, along with a few other Indian boarding schools, had to be built because their ancestors were segregated from mainstream schooling.

”we are the same as our ancestors, but still our students have different identities, different ways,” Juarez said. “For example, our students come from families who hold deep traditions within their tribes. The kids are being rightly raised to carry those traditions on.”

To celebrate the anniversary of maintaining traditions within each student, the school has been hosting music, comedy and fashion shows which include Native American artists.

Juarez said within these events, the students have had eye opening experiences.

”the fashion show was a big deal, we saw something we’ve never seen before out here, Juarez said. “We had representatives from the Aztec Nation come up and perform for us. And man, I was like wow, I’ve never seen anything like this. I was like yea, they’re Indian too.”

The Riverside Braves cross country team also wanted to show their appreciation of what their schools stands for, the cross country team ran 150 miles total, all across Indian land in 4 different legs.

Cross country coach James Nells said he and his team wanted these miles to have a little more meaning.

So they had 4 arrows created to symbolize the nations.

:”The yellow is going for the Chickasaw people and all people going to the east,” Nells said. “The red for the Comanche Nation, coming from the south and their the strength. The black is for the Kiowa’s, coming from the Kiowa complex. The white for the Cheyenne-Arapaho, and people coming from up north.”

Coach Nells said students who aren’t even apart of cross country volunteered to run with the team.

He says to see this fire in his students, is what makes him and all the other staff get out of bed everyday and do what they do.

”Because this is their school, we’re only hear to help them,” Nells said. “They go in portray Riverside with who they are, and where they came from whatever native tribe they come from. They are proud of where they come from.”

Juarez said students are allowed to be a part of learning traditions, Indian ways and culture while at the same time, still getting an education.

”That’s a powerful things,” Juarez said. Because ultimately they’re going to graduate, and when they graduate what they do after, whether they go to college, trade school they’re always going to be Indian.”

Riverside Indian School will finish out their celebrations with a pow honor the school and graduation seniors.

If you’d like to learn more about the boarding schools history, you can click the link.

Riverside Indian School

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