By Vi Waln
ROSEBUD – The first meeting of Sicangu Lakota descendants of children who are buried in Carlisle, Pennsylvania was emotional, educational and empowering.
“Our children went to the youth conference in Washington DC last summer,” stated Russell Eagle Bear, who serves as Rosebud’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. “On the trip back they visited the cemetery at Carlisle, Pennsylvania where they experienced something deep and powerful.”
The meeting was held to share information about the Rosebud students who attended Carlisle and died there. At least 10 students, who are buried at Carlisle, have been identified with ties to Rosebud. The Sicangu Youth Council is seeking the help of descendants of these students in order to bring their remains home. The group has obtained the support of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association.
“I am sure those children at Carlisle, as well as students at other boarding schools, said prayers every day to come home,” stated Sandy White Hawk of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. “It has taken this long for those prayers to be answered. Your work is vital because it’s going to heal that part of us that hasn’t been talked about and hasn’t been healed ceremonially. You are the answer to those ancestors’ prayers.”
“It must have been heartbreaking for parents. It was a shock for these children, they didn’t understand what they were going to go through. I’m hoping some other relatives recognize the names and look at their family tree to help us identify the descendants of these students,” Eagle Bear told those who had gathered in the tribal council chambers.
“I am here for Friend Hollow Horn Bear,” stated Duane Hollow Horn Bear. “She was an older sister to my grandfather who raised me. We need to know what happened to these children, we need to heal the anger and resentment we have around what happened to us. We have suffered significant losses, including our culture, history and children. When you look at those pictures, you don’t see one child smiling. That’s because there was nothing to smile about.”
Hollow Horn Bear described his experience at St. Francis Mission Boarding School. “I received 50 swats with a wooden paddle when I was 10 years old. This was for taking ½ of an apple out of the dining room. I took the apple because I didn’t have any money to buy popcorn.”
“Because of my experience, I believe I have knowledge of what my grandmother went through,” continued Hollow Horn Bear. “We carry that pain. We want to heal. We have to look at all the losses we suffered and process them. We need to heal and this is a big part of it.”
“This is going to start a movement to heal historical grief,” Eagle Bear said. “I’m thankful our young people are stepping up to lead this, we need to listen to them and give them the guidance they need. The family tree I did in a class at Sinte Gleska University brought awareness to me about my relatives. I’m hoping other relatives or descendants come forward to guide the youth.”
The members of the Sicangu Youth Council who were present at the meeting were Jayden Rose Whiting, Christopher Eagle Bear, Sydney Horse Looking, Bailey Arrow, Shylee Brave, Iwoblu Big Crow, Asia Black Bull, Maddie Big Crow, Lana Murray and Thomas Big Crow. The young people read the names of the deceased children and other information for the group. They also distributed wasna to everyone present. Some of the members described the emotional and spiritual experience they had while visiting the cemetery.
A power point presentation and video were shown to all. Prayers and songs were led by Sage Fast Dog and Brandon Bear Heels. A meal was served to all following the presentation.
Rosebud tribal members are asked to look into their family tree to determine if they could be relatives of the students who attended Carlisle. The following 10 children and teenagers are buried in the cemetery, all have ties to Rosebud.
• Dora (Her Pipe) Brave Bull, a 16 year old female student who arrived at the school on 10/06/1879 and passed away on 04/24/1881.
• Ernest Knocks Off-White Thunder, an 18 year old male student who arrived at the school on 10/06/1879 and passed away on 12/14/1880.
• Lucy Pretty Eagle (Takes the Tail), a 10 year old female student who arrived at the school on 11/14/1883 and passed away on 03/09/1884.
• Warren Painter-Bear Paints Dirt, a 15 year old male student who arrived at the school on 11/30/1882 and passed away on 09/30/1884.
• Friend Hollow Horn Bear, a 17 year old male student who arrived at the school on 11/14/1883 and passed away on 05/21/1886.
• Young Eagle-Foot Canoe, a 14 year old male student who arrived on 11/14/1883 and passed away on 06/28/1886.
• Dennis Strikes First-Blue Tomahawk, a 12 year old male student who arrived on 10/06/1879 and passed away on 01/19/1881.
• Rose Long Face, an 18 year old female student who arrived on 10/06/1879 and passed away on 04/29/1881.
• Maud Swift Bear, a 15 year old female student who arrived on 10/06/1879 and passed away on 12/14/1880.
• Alavan or Alvan (One That Kills Horse), a male who passed away on 03/22/1881.
If you have any questions or would like more information on how to look at your family tree, please contact Marcida Eagle Bear at (605) 441-5668 or the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (605)747-4255.