CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) — The remains of five more Native American children who died at a notorious government-run boarding school in Pennsylvania over a century ago will be disinterred from a small Army cemetery and returned to descendants, authorities said Thursday.
The remains are buried on the grounds of the Carlisle Barracks, home of the U.S. Army War College. The children attended the former Carlisle Indian Industrial School, where thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families and forced to assimilate to white society as a matter of U.S. policy.
The Carlisle school put children through harsh conditions that sometimes resulted in their deaths. Founded by an Army officer, the school cut their braids, dressed them in military-style uniforms and punished them for speaking their native languages. European names were forced upon them.
The Office of Army Cemeteries said the latest disinterment of remains will take place beginning Sept. 11. It will be the sixth such disinterment operation at Carlisle since 2017 as the military transfers remains to living family members for reburial. Twenty-eight children have been returned so far, according to cemetery officials.
The remains to be moved this fall include those belonging to 13-year-old Amos LaFromboise, of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe of South Dakota, who died in 1879, only 20 days after his arrival at the school. The tribe had written to the U.S. Army’s cemetery office in March to urge a faster return of the boy, who has been described as a son of one of the tribe's most celebrated leaders. The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate want to bury him next to his father on the Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota.
The other students to be moved died between 1880 and 1910 while attending the Carlisle school, according to the Office of Army Cemeteries. They are Edward Upright from the Spirit Lake Tribe of North Dakota, Beau Neal from the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming, Edward Spott from the Puyallup Tribe of Washington state, and Launy Shorty from the Blackfeet Nation of Montana.
More than 10,000 children from more than 140 tribes passed through the school between 1879 and 1918, including famous Olympian Jim Thorpe.
Starting with the Indian Civilization Act of 1819, the U.S. enacted laws and policies to establish and support Native American boarding schools across the nation. Hundreds of thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their communities and forced into boarding schools that focused on assimilation.
The federal government has been investigating its past oversight of the boarding schools.
The Associated Press