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Friends Of Salish School Cleanse And Repaint After Racist Graffiti

Well over 100 people gathered Saturday to show support after vandals broke into the Salish School of Spokane and scrawled racial slurs targeting Native Americans on the walls of a classroom.

Children between the ages of one and 11 attend the school, where they learn Salish—a language spoken among many Indian tribes in the Northwest, including the Colville, Kalispell, and the Spokane tribes.

Native American Elders burned sage and performed a cleansing ceremony inside the defaced classroom. But the kids seemed unaffected. As community leaders spoke and parents repainted walls inside, they plucked bright yellow dandelions out of the grass.

Executive Director La Rae Wiley said that’s as it should be.

“To greet the day, we say [translated from salish], ‘we are grateful for the day, we are grateful for our health and we are grateful for our families.’”

She said that’s just what they’ll do when classes start Monday.

Community leaders including City Council President Ben Stuckart and Idaho Representative Paulette Jordan, who is a registered Coeur D’Alene tribal member, also attended the gathering.

A police investigation into the vandalism is ongoing. A local company has offered to install a security system at no cost to the school.

This is not the first time Spokane has confronted racism. Vandals spray painted slurs along an outside wall of Spokane Martin Luther King Family Outreach Center last November. Back in March, anti-Semitic white nationalist posters were found in three locations in Washington’s second largest city. And late last month, anti-Semitic graffiti was found on the backdoor of the city’s community building.

Salish School of Spokane Executive Director LaRae Wiley sings a song as Native elders perform a cleansing ceremony inside the school.
Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network
Northwest News Network
Salish School of Spokane Executive Director LaRae Wiley sings a song as Native elders perform a cleansing ceremony inside the school.

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Emily Schwing
Emily Schwing comes to the Inland Northwest by way of Alaska, where she covered social and environmental issues with an Arctic spin as well as natural resource development, wildlife management and Alaska Native issues for nearly a decade. Her work has been heard on National Public Radio’s programs like “Morning Edition” and “All things Considered.” She has also filed for Public Radio International’s “The World,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” and various programs produced by the BBC and the CBC. She has also filed stories for Scientific American, Al Jazeera America and Arctic Deeply.