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Father Chirouse and the children of the Mission School

Father Chirouse and the Mission School 

The following passages are from a 1919 Annual report prepared by Tulalip Superintendent Charles M. Buchanan.

In September 1857, Father Chirouse came to the Tulalip Reservation, locating himself between Priest Point and Quilceda Creek, adjacent to the Percival and Tyee George allotments on the banks of Ebey Slough.  He started a church at this site and one of the first fruit tree's, an apple tree, is still standing and   bearing fruit. 

The next year he moved further west, to Priest Point, where he established a church and cemetary on what is now the Charles Hillaire allotment. He did clearing at this site and established a school.  By the spring of 1859, with the help given to him by the indians he raised a considerable garden.  From that time on the Father kept clearing land and improving buildings until 1860 he had the school running with 15 pupils and a settlement of 200 Indians.  At this site he also planted an orchard, a portion is still standing on the Hillaire allotment at Priest Point.   From this point the school moved to Tulalip Bay in 1863. 

The Tulalip Mission school recieved no assistance for the government, until it's removal.  The main support cam from  donations end even personal begging.  It was a custom to take the school boys on a performing tour of the Sound country; pass the hat and maintain school until the hat was empty.  As one of the old pupils said to me,"Those Doctor, were the days of salt salmon straight, and we had to catch the salmon, too, before we could salt them!"

At Tulalip Chirouse built a church in 1867; additions and imporovments were added from time to time until its completion by the addition of the belfry in 1885.  This church burned in the Mission fire on March 29, 1902, the old bell is mounted outside the present church.

Father Chirouse also built churches at many points and missions about the Sound, Lummi in 1868, Swinomish in 1869, Port Madison in 1870, and Muckleshoot in 1880.

On December 8, 1856, several Sisters of Charity of the house of Providence of Montreal arrived and on that day began their mission of charity in the hospitals of the northwest.  In 1868 they came to Tulalip in order that Father Chirouse might exetend to Indian girls tha same training that he had been affording the Indian boys.  in 1869 the government contracted with this school for the maintenance of a definite number of Indian pupils at a definite per capita, per month and then Tulalip became the first contract Indian school in the United States.

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Nuns and students at the Tulalip Mission School between 1895 and 1910

It maintained this status unchanged until about 1896.   At that time there was much feeling in Congress against the use of Government funds in sectarian schools.  One branch of Congress desired to cut these schools off at once, to which the other house did not agree.  The final compromise was effected, however, providing for 20% decreases in contracts per year, thus eliminating such schools after five years instead of summarily.  This condition applied to Tulalip Mission of Sainte Anne, but each year the Catholic Bureau of Indian Mission took up, carried and paid for the annual per centum decrements so that the actual revenue the mission schools was not affected.

In the winter of 1900-1901, however, the government determined to assume possession of it plant and conduct its one school there.  Dr. Charles M. Buchanan was appointed Superintendent .  The first superintendent to succeed the last U.S. Indian Agent, the Honorable Edward Mills, July 1, 1901.

During the summer of 1901, improvements and additions were made to the old Mission plant and complete new equipment for the school was shipped in.  The government school opened it's doors in the Mission Buildings December 17, 1901.  The major portion of the Mission plant, six buildings,  were destroyed by fire on March 29, 1902, the day before Easter morning.  The fire started around 4:30 a.m.  The indian pupils were sent home and the school closed it's door's.  The old mission site, while a beautiful site, was not a suitable site from a sanitary stand point: 

1.)   It was adjacent to and below the level of it's stables and it's cemetary, from both of which it's water supply received drainage.

2.)   It was at the bottom of a sandy hillside or watershed with the result that the winter rains undermined the buildings and out gullies through the grounds.

3.)   It lie immediately adjacentto a large area of tide flat, which received all the sewer drainage from the school. 

In addition to that it was a mile and half fromthe steamer landing and some of the problems engendered thereby could be eliminated by a change in location. The mission site was abandoned and a new school site was established at the agency adjacent to the steamer landing.

This newly contstructed school opened it's doors for the first time January 23, 1905, 50 years aftrer the signing of the Point Elliot treaty pledging a large agricultural and industrial school for all the Indians of the Northwest!

The Tulalip Indian Reservation on February 28, 1915, the Tulalip School is on the left


Point Elliot Treaty ( Read this to learn more! )

Life after the treaty,...Our Children are our Future