SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The findings of an investigation into the history of federal Indian boarding schools are now out.
30 of those schools were in South Dakota.
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribal historian and archivist, Tamara St. John, says the impact of boarding schools has been huge on tribal members, their families and tribal nations.
“A lot of the things that children experienced there really wind up adding up to what we call cultural genocide, loss of language, loss of connection to even your own family, and that feeling of not belonging,” St. John said.
In identifying federal Indian boarding schools for the new report, an institution had to meet four criteria:
-On-site housing or overnight lodging
-There had to be records of academic or vocational training
-The school received federal funds or other support
-It had to operate before 1969
“In addition to the 30 federal Indian boarding schools that are noted in the State of South Dakota, the report also acknowledges that there’s further work to be done on those non-federal boarding schools,” St. John said.
For example, the Catholic-run Tekakwitha boarding school and orphanage that once operated in Sisseton is not on the list.
Allison Renville is an advocate for survivors of the institution.
“I think what surprises me the most is the shock and awe of it all still, that it’s still so fresh for people to hear that this happened. Here in South Dakota, it’s still new news to people. It’s still breaking news to people that we had X amount of schools here in South Dakota. But we all knew this, growing up in reservations, growing up in small towns, ” Survivor advocate Allison Renville said.
St. John says the report could help in the effort to bring children’s remains home.
“It’s going to require support from communities whether it be tribal or non-tribal, state or federal, it’s going to cooperation, understanding, and resources for that,” St. John said.
The report also identified burial sites at more than 50 school sites in the system.