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Memorial Site Design and Art Opportunities

The design for this project was a culmination of volunteer efforts as well as numerous consultations with Lakota spiritual leaders, elders, and community members. As we near the construction phase, we want to share the opportunities for community, for artists, to join us in memorializing the children who lost their lives and how it has impacted Indigenous people across the country

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Memorial Stones for each child

We are seeking an artist to design 50 individual stones composed of glacial granite that will be placed along the path of the Memorial site in honor and memoriam of the children who lost their lives. We are seeking artists who have a demonstrated commitment in their work to Native American values and life ways and have an understanding of the historical trauma inflicted on Native American people through boarding school policies. We are also seeking an artist who would be willing and able to share their artistic skills and processes with Native American youth and community members in Rapid City, South Dakota during the design, fabrication, and installation process.

Memorial Wall

The Memorial Wall is located in the plaza area and will give 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.  We are interested in an artist designing the wall to convey the impact that the death of the children has had on their families, their community, descendants, and their people. 

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Pedestrian Benches 

Reflection Benches will be placed periodically along the walking path to provide rest and reflection. The eight benches that are planned to be placed along the path will be advertised as Open Calls to Artists because we want them to contribute to the story of the children and the Memorial site. Pictured left is a bench designed by Molina Parker that serves as an example of the incorporation of Lakota thought, philosophy, and symbology that is an important aspect of expression and healing. We plan to engage artists to design all the benches that will be placed on site. 

Interpretive Scaffolds

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. Pictured right is a rendering done by TerraSite design with the guidance of Wilmer Mesteth that serves as an example of this aspect of design.


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