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Native American Day marked the start of a Native American children’s memorial

People came together today to remember and mourn the children who died during their time at the Rapid City Indian Boarding School.
Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 7:06 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - For many indigenous people across the state of South Dakota, Native American Day isn’t just about celebrating the present but also addressing the past.

That’s why people came together today to remember and mourn the children who died during their time at the Rapid City Indian Boarding School.

Monday marked the groundbreaking of a Native American children’s memorial in Rapid City commemorating the 50 plus indigenous children who died at the Rapid City Indian School between 1893 and 1933.

The two-million-dollar project aims to address the Black Hills' troubled historical past, and recognize the strides made by Native communities while also addressing the hard work still needed to move forward.

“The memorial is going to be a walking path up the hill and it will have the stones engraved with each child’s grave in it that will line the path and four scaffolds and inipis, which are sweat lodges, and then we’ll hope to reseed the land as well to have our natural resources available for us," said Lafawn Janis, the memorial walk organizer.

People gathered at Sioux Park before walking to the memorial grounds on a hillside behind West Middle School.

Some of the victims' descendants joined the ceremony to share the stories of their ancestors.

“It’s about time," said Victoria Sherman, a descendant of one of the children. "This horrendous time in our lives, their lives, is being recognized. And hopefully, it’ll bring more understanding to the non-Natives, what our ancestors went through. We need a lot of things that will bring people together these days and I’m hoping this will be one of them.”

Monday’s event also included the third annual memorial walk.

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