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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 * * *


This memorial and its design has been a collaborative process over many years. Input was gathered 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. Guidance about scaffolds presented by Wlimer Mesteth before he passed was also incorporated. Each completed step in the design has been presented to spiritual leader Richard Moves Camp for final approval. 

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.


Please enjoy this interactive sketch to learn more about the elements of the design 

and the budget for each element. 



Please consider making a contribution towards the approximately $2 million budget

for the creation of this beautiful and historic memorial. 



Boulders with the Names of each Child (50): ($1,000 each) An individual boulder will be engraved with the name of each of the over fifty (50) children that passed away at the Rapid City Indian Boarding School (that have been identified thus far). The boulders are symbolic as rocks (inyan) are sacred in Lakota culture, they represent the “grandfathers” and are central in the inipi/sweat lodge cleansing ceremony. By using individual boulders, we will also be able to add more children as more of the names are identified in the future. Each boulder will be placed alongside the walking path at the top of the memorial. These boulders honor the lives of the children that were lost and the graves that were not found. 


Burial Scaffolds (5): ($35,000 each) Traditionally our people placed the body of our loved ones on a raised scaffold after death. By using this uniquely Lakota burial symbol we hope to unite in prayer and thoughts of our ancestors with the children. In addition, our medicine people have advised us that this same hill was historically used as a scaffold burial location. Scaffolds were often decorated with items significant to those who passed – such as weapons and headdresses for warriors. These are scaffolds for the children and will be decorated with cradle boards and traditional toys.


There will be five (5) scaffolds. Four at the top of the hill at the burial location. Four is a sacred number, representing both the four directions and the four stages of life. These four scaffolds will be larger and taller than a regular sized scaffold to create a visual impact from afar. At the base of the hill a smaller actual child size scaffold shall be built, both to honor their stage in life and to provide an opportunity for elders to view the scaffold that may not be able to climb the hill. Each scaffold shall have their feet facing South, which is the Lakota traditional direction of exit for passage onto the next life.


Traditional Foods & Medicines Landscaping: ($30,000) The “landscaping” will entail reintroducing traditional foods and medicines throughout the memorial including covering the hill, so that the land provides prayer and nourishment available for all. The hope is to cultivate indigenous plants such as chokecherries, buffalo berries, currants, wild plums, timpsila, sage, mullein, bergamot, yarrow, prairie rose, and cheyaka, etc.


West Entrance Gate: ($5,000) This West Entrance Gate is meant for those unable to make the trip to the top of the memorial site, giving everyone access to the memorial and opportunity to honor the children. The westerly orientation and entry is important in Lakota culture as it is the direction of entry.


Prayer Path: ($85,000) An unpaved pebble covered walking path will be the primary access to the scaffolds and the children’s burials at the top of the hill. With the challenging slope of the site the walk is intended to be a purposeful and intentional journey of reflection and prayer on the way to the burials. 


Story Boards (15): ($2,000 each) Along the walking prayer path a series of story boards shall be placed that share the history of Native Americans in Rapid City (Mni Luzahan Otunwahe), the Rapid City Indian Boarding School, the students and their families, and the Sioux Sanitorium. 


Reflection Benches (8): ($2,000 each) Placed periodically along the walking path to provide rest and reflection. 


Medicine Wheel Plaza: ($5,000) This area is where most people will meet and congregate when arriving at the site. The plaza will be paved in the colors of the four directions. While standing here visitors will feel a sense of awareness as they view the nearby memorial wall with the scaffolding towering over the distance. 


Memorial Wall: ($20,000) This wall gives visitors information regarding the memorial and the cultural and historical significance of the site. It will be at chest height to allow visitors to simultaneously view the memorial hill and the impact of the scaffolds. 


Cook Shack: ($150,000) Providing a meal after prayer is an essential component of a gathering. Providing food as both an offering to the ancestors and to nourish your community is an essential component of the Oceti Sakowin culture. As such a “cook shack” will be integrated into the covered shelter  


Center Sculpture ($100,000): Local artist Dale Lamphere will be commissioned to design and create a sculpture to serve as the centerpiece of the welcome area. It is intended to memorialize the families and lives lost to this tragedy by projecting hope and family healing moving forward.


Inipi (Sweat Lodge)(4): ($2,500 each or $10,000 for all) One of the most important aspects of this memorial to the children of the Rapid City Indian Boarding School is to ensure the children know that we did not forget them. One of the most important ways to do that is to pray for them and near them. As such, a central aspect of this memorial is the incorporation of several inipis (sweat lodges) at the base of the hill to encourage prayer for our community, for our children, and for the children of the Rapid City Indian Boarding School. Inipis are one of the primary forms of purification and regular prayer for the oyate, the people of the Oceti Sakowin. 

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