CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) — Authorities said Tuesday that the remains of ten more Native American children
who died more than a century ago at a boarding school in central Pennsylvania
are being disinterred and will be returned to their families.
A team of archaeologists began work
Saturday at the Carlisle Barracks, which also houses the United States
Army War College. Nine of the children were from the Rosebud Sioux
tribe in South Dakota, and one was from the Alaskan Aleut
The cemetery contains more than 180 graves of former Carlisle Indian Industrial School students, a government-run boarding school for Native American children; this is the Army's fourth disinterment project at the school in as many years.
The school, founded by an Army officer, opened in 1879 and housed approximately 10,000 indigenous children before closing in 1918, forcing students to cut their braids, dress in uniforms, speak English, and adopt European names. Many of the children buried there died as a result of infectious disease and harsh conditions.
According to Barbara Lewandrowski of the Office
of Army Cemeteries, the Army is fully funding the project, which costs around $500,000 per year and includes travel
to the transfer ceremony as well as transport and reburial of the deceased children.
“The Army’s commitment to these nine Native American families and one Alaskan Native family remains unwavering, and our goal is to reunite the families with their children in the most dignified and respectful manner possible,” Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director of Army National Military
Cemeteries, said in a statement Tuesday.
Hundreds of Native American and Alaskan Native families have asked for the return of their ancestors from Carlisle since 2016, according to Lewandrowski.
Dennis Strikes First (Blue Tomahawk), Rose Long Face (Little Hawk), Lucy Take The Tail (Pretty Eagle), Warren Painter (Bear
Paints Dirt), Ernest Knocks Off (White Thunder), Maud Little Girl (Swift Bear), Friend Hollow Horn Bear, Dora Her Pipe (Brave Bull), and Alvan — also known as Roaster, Kills Seven Horses
, and Alvan — were the children's English names, and where available, their Native Americans
According to the Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette, the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center archives at Dickinson College include newspaper clippings detailing the deaths of some students, as well as identification cards with name, tribal affiliation, date of arrival, and date of departure, with the latter often listed as "death."
Dennis Strikes arrived on October 6, 1879 and died on January 19, 1887 of typhoid pneumonia. He was the son of Blue Tomahawk of Rosebud Agency, Dakota, and was described as a "bright, studious, ambitious boy, standing first in his class, and of such tractable a disposition as to be no trouble to his teachers."
Another clipping described the deaths of Ernest Knocks Off and Maud Little Girl on December 14, 1880, as a "sad and mysterious coincidence." Ernest was admitted to the hospital
in October to be treated for a sore throat, but he refused to take any medicine, leaving him "weak and exhausted." Maud Little Girl died of pneumonia and was described as a "bright, impulsive, waif."