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St. Catherine's Indian School,
Santa Fe, New Mexico

|  School's Out, Forever?  |

St. Catherine's Indian School is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For over one hundred years the school provided education for generations of Native American students. Katharine Drexel provided funds to build the first school building in 1887 which once housed the entire school. Throughout the school's 111-year existence enrollment increased, and the campus grew with additional buildings. Drexel continued to donate funds to the school until her death in1995. During her lifetime Drexel also took religious vows, founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and devoted her life to educating minorities. Pope John Paul II canonized Blessed Mother Katharine in 2000.

In its later years of operation, the school continued to educate primarily Native American Indian students. In 1965 the school opened enrollment to non-Indian students. Several artists were educated at St Catherine’s including painter Manuel Chavez, muralist Pablita Velarde, and potter Maria Martinez. The St. Catherine's Indian School is no stranger to closure. Prior to its most recent closure, the campus was temporarily closed from 1893-1894. The original closure resulted from the government’s pulling the school's contract due to lack of adequate water for cultivation purposes.

After Drexel’s death the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament found it difficult to maintain appropriate religious staff and to keep up with the school's $500,000 annual operating budget. Fundraising efforts, a lease to an independent board and a proposal for a Catholic school all failed to save St. Catherine's. In 1998 the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament announced the school’s permanent closure. Three sisters and artist Bob Chavez continue to live on the school campus.

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