The U.S. stole generations of Indigenous children to open the West
Indian boarding schools held Native American youth hostage in exchange for land cessions.
BY NICK ESTES
Nearly 200 Native children lie buried at the entrance of the Carlisle
Barracks in the “Indian Cemetery” — the first thing you see when
entering one of the United States’ oldest military installations. It is a
grisly monument to the country’s most infamous
boarding school, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, which opened in
1879 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and closed in 1918. Chiseled onto the
white granite headstones, arranged in the uniform rows typical of
veterans’ cemeteries in the U.S., are the names
and tribal affiliations of children who came to Carlisle but never
left. Thirteen gravestones list neither name nor tribe; they simply read
It’s a chilling scene that I was unprepared for when I visited last year on the 100-year anniversary of the school’s closing. And the experience was made even more jarring by the mandatory background check and armed checkpoint I faced just to visit the cemetery and the school’s remnants. The campus is an active military base, and the heightened security measures are due to post-9/11 precautions. The unquiet graves of these young casualties of the nation’s bloody Indian wars lie next to the Army War College, which trains officers for the nation’s longest war, the war on terror.
The cemetery was not supposed to be at the front entrance. It was an accident: In 1927, to make room for a parking lot, the Army dug up the children’s graves and relocated them behind the base — out of sight. Then, in 2001, the back of the base was turned into the entrance to satisfy new security protocols. Now, Carlisle’s deadly past is on full display.
Carlisle, and boarding schools like it, are remembered as a dark chapter in the history of the ill-conceived assimilation policies designed to strip Native people of their cultures and languages by indoctrinating them with U.S. patriotism. But child removal is a longstanding practice, ultimately created to take away Native land. Although Carlisle is located in the East, it played a key role in pressuring the West’s most intransigent tribes to cede and sell land by taking their children hostage.
A century after its closing, however, unanswered questions surround the Carlisle Indian School’s brutal legacy. Secrets once thought buried — why did so many children die there? — are coming to light. And the descendants of those interred are demanding more than just the return of their stolen ancestors.
“The past of Carlisle is really about justice,” says Ben Rhodd, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s tribal historic preservation officer. Since April 2016, his office has been pursuing the return of 11 children buried at the Carlisle Indian Cemetery. Even in death, Rhodd explains, Rosebud’s children remain “prisoners of war,” held at a military base and unable to return to their home on the Rosebud Reservation, children who were “hostages taken to pacify the leadership of tribes that would dare stand against U.S. expansion and Manifest Destiny.”
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Saturday, October 19, 2019
The U.S. stole generations of Indigenous children to open the West
The Justice Department is protecting the names of many perpetrators of abuse of Indigenous children.— Charlie Angus NDP (@CharlieAngusNDP) July 8, 2021
We need a special independent prosecutor who can force the government and church to turn over the documents.
There can be no reconciliation without justice.@MumilaaqQaqqaq pic.twitter.com/5TL6OxKM5O
This is a map of every residential "school" site in Canada.— Mumilaaq Qaqqaq (@MumilaaqQaqqaq) June 24, 2021
Every dot is a crime scene.
Only a few have been investigated so far.
Canada, do not get used to these numbers.
Do not let them become statistics.
Put yourselves in the shoes of these children in the ground. pic.twitter.com/5XJS1w1ka2
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What our Nations are up against!
To Veronica Brown
Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.
Did you know?
click to listen
Diane Tells His Name
where were you adopted?
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.