What Is the History Behind St. Labre Indian School?


Quick Answer

The St. Labre Indian School, named for a French saint, was founded by the Catholic Church in 1884. It was set on land purchased by Montana Bishop John Brondel. The idea was to provide education and services for the displaced northern Cheyenne.

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Full Answer

The school started in a three-room cabin, overseen by three Ursuline nuns. Up until 1954 St. Labre had little funding, few students and was under the near-constant threat of closing. Donations started trickling in, and things improved. During the 1960s the school opened its door to the Crow Indian Reservation.

Eventually two additional schools opened, the Pretty Eagle Catholic School at St. Xavier and the St. Charles Mission School in Pryor. As of 2015, all three schools operate under the St. Labre Indian School banner and are supported almost exclusively by private funding. In addition to the Cheyenne and the Crow, students include members of the Sioux Nation. Total enrollment for all three schools, including grades K-12, averages between 750 and 800.

The school constantly adds new programs and incentives for its students. New for 2015 is the introduction of the Curricular Trips program where children attend science camps and visit Washington, D.C. or parts of the West Coast, depending on age. The school also offers scholarship and career exploration programs.

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