"Kill the Indian, Save the Man."
- Richard Henry Pratt
RAPID CITY INDIAN BOARDING SCHOOL
The government took our children – to force them to forget who they were
This memorial is for them – so they know we never forgot who they are
This memorial is for us – so we never forget what they did
* * * Remembering the Children * * *
* * * Wakȟáŋyeža Wičhákiksuyapi * * *
The federal government created a series of boarding schools throughout the nation in an attempt to assimilate Native American children from the 1800s-1960s. There were several in South Dakota, including the Rapid City Indian Boarding School (1898-1933). After serving as the Indian Boarding School, this facility became a segregated Indian tuberculosis clinic from the 1930s-1960s, the “Sioux Sanatorium.”
Children were brought to Rapid City Indian Boarding School predominantly from the tribes of the Great Sioux Nation (particularly Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River, Rosebud), but children came here from as far away as Gros Ventre, Northern Cheyenne, Flathead, and Chippewa. A significant percentage of the Rapid City Native American community are descendants of the children who survived after being brought to the Rapid City Indian Boarding School.
As with most Indian boarding schools, the mortality rate was very high, and the government did not keep records of the deaths of the children or where they were buried.
However, we know from oral histories and from years of independent research, including in the federal archived school records, that at least 50 children and infants passed away (the number is surely significantly higher).
Some children died at the Boarding School, some traveling to or from the Boarding School, and others died trying to escape from the Boarding School.
Through oral histories from descendants and community elders, inspections by Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs), and guidance from spiritual leaders, we have located the likely locations of the unmarked graves of at least some of the children. It is here that the Remembering the Children memorial will be placed to honor each of them.
This land with the unmarked graves was placed into the trust of the Oglala, Cheyenne River, and Rosebud Sioux Tribes to protect the graves of these children in perpetuity, and these tribes have approved this beautiful memorial to honor all our children.
Input was gathered for many years for the memorial – from the families of the deceased, descendants of the survivors, THPOs, community members, tribal leaders, elders, and spiritual advisers for this simple and beautiful design.
The memorial is intended to be a place of prayer, gathering, and remembrance. The primary design elements include a memorial walking path with history boards along the route, individual boulders with the names of each of the children who passed, and four sculptures of traditional burial scaffolds for children.
This project is led entirely by local community volunteers
PLEASE JOIN OUR TEAM:
Remember the Children
Project Mission Statement: To honor the lives, memories, and spirits of the children and relatives who passed away at the Indian Boarding School and the Sioux Sanatorium TB Clinic