.- The Northern Cheyenne Tribe filed a lawsuit March 11, alleging that St. Labre Indian School Educational Association is imposing its Catholic values on the community and raising millions by marketing the tribe’s poverty, reported the Montana Lee Newspapers. The lawsuit states that only a small percentage of students at St. Labre Mission are Northern Cheyenne, but the school continues to use images of Cheyenne children in its fundraising campaigns. It says St. Labre has reaped $57 million in the last four years while poverty is rampant on the reservation.
"We're trying to make sure there is a more equitable distribution of the funds raised on the Northern Cheyenne reservation," Northern Cheyenne President Eugene Little Coyote told the newspaper. The lawsuit also states the tribe does not know where all this money has gone.
While the tribe’s leaders have highlighted the financial aspects of the lawsuit to the press, the lawsuit includes other important charges that the Catholic school is imposing a Catholic culture and its values on the community. The tribe alleges that the school has trespassed on tribal lands.
However, the school’s Web site tells a different story about an institution that has been serving that community since 1884. What began as a small mission became a three-campus school, offering elementary and high school education.
The school runs a dormitory from Sundays to Fridays for students whose families live more than 40 miles away. Its program offers instruction in Native American history and languages and, among its many extra-curricular activities, counseling and outreach programs, the schools runs a “Horsemanship for Youth” program.