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The Hiawatha Asylum: The Threat Behind Indian Boarding Schools

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tags: South Dakota, Native American history, Indian Residential Schools



 

In the spring, nearly 1,000 unmarked graves of indigenous children were discovered on the grounds of former Canadian boarding schools. Following international attention, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior announced an investigation into the history of U.S. boarding schools with a mission to find potential unmarked graves throughout this country and identify the children in them.

Some of those graves are in South Dakota. The state had 25 Indian boarding schools and was also home to the nation’s only insane asylum for Native Americans.

Our KELOLAND News investigation looks into the “threat behind the boarding schools” and the unmarked graves discovered at the old Hiawatha Indian Insane Asylum site.
 

Most golfers hitting the links at the Hiawatha golf course in Canton probably don’t realize what lies between the fourth and fifth fairways.

A small cemetery, a reminder of South Dakota’s dark past, is marked off by a wooden fence tied with ribbons and feathers.

“As we enter from the west side, we come across the monument of 120 names of those who we know are interred here,” Ross Lothrop, Keeper of the Hiawatha Indian Insane Asylum story, said.

120 Native Americans lived in deplorable conditions until they died at the Hiawatha Indian Insane Asylum. In all, 400 Native inmates were housed here over three decades.

“The threat around the country and we’ve been told by elders that they heard this in boarding school–that if they were bad, they would be sent to Canton and everyone knew it was a death sentence if you were sent there. You didn’t really come out,” Anne Dilenschneider Keeper of the Hiawatha Indian Insane Asylum story, said.

 

Read entire article at KELO

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