RAPID CITY, SD — Work continues in Rapid City to identify children who died at the Indian Boarding School and find ways to honor them.
At this point there are two known burial sites in town. One is in Mountain View Cemetery, where ten children are laid to rest. The other is an unmarked site near the former Sioux San Hospital which is said to hold an unknown number of graves.
The Indian Boarding School Lands Research Project is putting together a committee to properly mark the site.
“In conjunction with Mniluzahan Okolakiciyapi Ambassadors on their website as well as Black Hillls Area Foundation were trying to raise about $50,000 to put together a memorial and a fence.” said Heather Dawn Thompson, volunteer for Rapid City Indian Boarding School Lands Research Project.
The memorial would serve to represent both known and unknown children who died at the school and the fence would protect the property itself.
Another part of this research project has to do with the land where the boarding school was originally located.
Over 1,200 acres between Mountain View Drive and Canyon Lake Park once belonged to the Indian Boarding School. Over time the land has been divided up and re-purposed for different uses. About 40 acres of that land has been found to have been used in violation of federal law.
Talks are in the works of swapping land back for Native American use.
“Historically the requests have been for an Indian community center, for housing, for pow wow grounds for cultural centers,” continued Heather Dawn Thompson, “And so were having a conversation about what that looks like today.”
Thompson says they’ve been working closely with Rapid City and the school district to determine how to handle the situation.
The school district was originally gifted the land.
The organization is hosting four additional meetings this month and in November to discuss the land issue moving forward.