The remains of native children were returned from the Carlisle Army Cemetery

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“We want our children to be at home no matter how long it takes”

(Carlisle) – The exhumed remains of nine Native American children Died more than a century ago while attending a government school in Pennsylvania, they returned to the Rosebud Sioux tribal lands in South Dakota on Wednesday after a ceremony that returned them to their loved ones.

The transfer to a cemetery on the grounds of the US Army’s Carlisle Barracks was part of the fourth round of transfers to have taken place since 2017. The remains of an Aleut child from Alaska were returned to his tribe earlier this summer.

“We want our children to come home no matter how long it takes,” said US Home Secretary Deb Haaland, who in June announced a national inquiry in residential schools that attempted to assimilate native children into white society.

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Home Secretary Deb Haaland meets with youth from the Rosebud Sioux tribe after a ceremony at the US Army Carlisle Barracks.

Haaland, the first Native American to serve as cabinet secretary, said at the event that “the practices of forced assimilation” have stripped children’s clothes, language and culture. She said the government aims to locate schools and burial sites and identify the names and tribal affiliations of children in boarding schools across the country.

Almost a thousand anonymous graves have been discovered in recent months at the sites of former residential schools for Indigenous children in Canada.

In Pennsylvania, the nine sets of remains inside small wooden coffins were transported past a phalanx of tribal members and sympathizers before being loaded into a vehicle trailer to be driven to Sioux City, Iowa. The children died between 1880 and 1910.

Ione Quigley, the tribe’s historic preservation officer, shared how she witnessed the exhumation earlier this week and used red ocher to prepare the remains in the traditional way.

“We did everything as respectfully and honorably as possible,” Quigley said.

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Rosebud Sioux Historic Preserver Ione Quigley returns to her seat after speaking at the ceremony.

Russell Eagle Bear, a representative of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council, said a lodge was being prepared for a ceremony Friday at a Missouri River landing near Sioux City where the children boarded a boat to steamer to the government-run Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

Carlisle School, founded by an army officer, has taken drastic measures to separate Native American students from their culture, including cutting their braids, dressing them in military-style uniforms, and punishing them for speaking their mother tongue. They were forced to adopt European names.

Over 10,000 Native American children were educated there and endured harsh conditions that sometimes resulted in death from diseases such as tuberculosis.

Eagle Bear said the tribe’s children were ridiculed on the trip to Carlisle in 1879, three years after the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Tribal officials have said that when the remains arrive in South Dakota, some will be buried in a veterans cemetery and others are intended for family cemeteries.

“We are here today and we will be bringing our kids home,” Eagle Bear told about 100 attendees on Wednesday. “We have a big homecoming on the other end.”

Since August 2017, the military has unearthed 22 remains of Native American children from the cemetery, including 10 that occurred this year. In previous years, the remains were turned over to the Northern Arapaho, Blackfeet, Oglala Sioux, Oneida, Omaha, Modoc and Iowa tribes.




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