The remains of young Amerindians return to their tribal homes | Indigenous rights news



The children had been separated from their families over a century ago due to America’s policy of forced assimilation.

A caravan carrying the bodies of nine exhumed young Native Americans, who died more than a century ago, crossed the Americas on Thursday en route to the Rosebud Sioux tribal lands in South Dakota.

The trip represents a long-delayed homecoming for the children, who, like hundreds of thousands of other native youth, were separated from their homelands as part of a U.S. government effort for forced assimilation in the 19th and early in the 20th century, largely starting with the Indian Civilization Act of 1819.

All nine children died between 1880 and 1910 at Carlisle Indian Industrial School Public School in Pennsylvania, an institution that housed some 10,000 native students and forced them to cut their braids, wear military-style uniforms and punish them. for speaking their mother tongue.

Their bodies were exhumed in June along with the remains of an Aleut girl from Alaska, who has already been returned to her tribe.

With the recent discovery of nearly a thousand anonymous graves across Canada in former residential schools for Indigenous children drawing attention to victims of forced assimilation programs, Thursday’s trailer served as a grim reminder of the efforts of many. decades of tribal leaders, activists and researchers to get a more accurate account of what happened to indigenous youth who never returned to their families.

Records of separated indigenous youth remain at best disparate and scattered across institutions and jurisdictions across the country.

“We want our children to come home no matter how long it takes,” US Home Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to hold a ministerial post, said Wednesday at a ceremony in which is now the US Army Carlisle Barracks and contains 180 student graves from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

In June, inspired by the discovery of the graves in Canada, Haaland launched a boarding school policy inquiry that will attempt to compile as comprehensive an account as possible of the experience of Indigenous children. There will be particular “emphasis on cemeteries or potential burial sites” and the connection between the buried children and their tribes, the Home Department said in a press release at the time.

The investigation will result in a report to be submitted in April 2022.

Home Secretary Deb Haaland speaks at ceremony at US Army Carlisle Barracks [File: Matt Rourke/The Associated Press]

The caravan carrying the remains of the nine children of the Rosebud Sioux tribal lands will be greeted Thursday evening with a prayer service in Sioux City, Wisconsin – a town that has served as a transit point for many separated Indigenous children.

This is the fourth exhumation of indigenous youth remains to be conducted by the US Office of Army Ceremonies and comes after a six-year effort led by the Rosebud Sioux Youth Council.

Russell Eagle Bear, a representative for the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council, said a lodge was being prepared for a ceremony Friday at a Missouri River landing near Sioux City.

“We are here today and we will be bringing our children home,” Eagle Bear said at Wednesday’s ceremony in Pennsylvania.

“We have a big homecoming on the other end.”


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