RAPID CITY, S.D. — Prayers and sage filled the air in Sioux Park as hundreds gathered to remember the children lost to the Rapid City Indian Boarding School.
This Native Americans’ Day is the fourth year for the local event, where participants walk from Sioux Park to Sioux San Hospital accompanied by drums and flags. Scattered among the marchers were signs for each child who died at the school.
“We came here because we’re proud to be indigenous – we’re proud to be Lakota – and we just want to encourage all these other little kids around here to not be afraid of your culture – don’t be afraid to be outstanding and continue on that way of life,” says Natahlee Shields, a participant and local activist.
Among the speakers were family members of boarding school victims. That generational trauma apparent with their shaky voices and tearful recollections – stories difficult for many to hear.
“Part of truth and healing is having hard conversations and we just have to do it together – dig deep and dive inside of ourselves to have those hard conversations so we don’t relive the past,” says Rapid City Indian Boarding School Lands team member, Lafawn Janis.
With the sound of drums and a clear blue sky, those in attendance paid their respects.
“Especially on Indigenous Day I just think it’s so beautiful that everyone’s here and everyone’s remembering the children because they didn’t get that remembrance they didn’t get recognition,” Chanwanpe Shields, a participant and local activist, says.
The hill where the walk ended is set to host a sculpture dedicated to those children lost at the Rapid City Indian Boarding School. The project is still in it’s fundraising stage and is estimated to cost roughly $2 million.
CLICK HERE for more information on Remembering the Children and a link to donate to the memorial.