SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The remains of nine Native American children who died more than a century ago while attending a government-run school in Pennsylvania meant to assimilate them into white culture have been returned to their South Dakota tribe for burial on its reservation.
The Rosebud Sioux planned to rebury the remains during a ceremony Saturday, the Argus Leader reported.
The effort to return the remains took nearly six years. A caravan of young adults tasked with bringing the remains home to the reservation set out Tuesday from the site of the former Carlisle Indian Reform School, which is about 20 miles west of the Pennsylvania capital Harrisburg.
It made several stops along the way, including in Yankton and Whetstone on Friday for emotional ceremonies with tribal members. Another ceremony was held earlier Friday at a Missouri River landing near Sioux City, Iowa, which was where the children, who died between 1880-1910, boarded a steamboat for their journey east.
"This is a common sorrow we share, but on this day we have a common celebration," Ben Rhodd, a member of the Rosebud Sioux, told the gathering in Yankton.
Rodney Bordeaux, the tribe's president, said Friday's events were historic and thanked the young people for bringing the remains back.
"This is going to make us that much stronger as a people as we reclaim who we are," he said. "Indian Country nationwide is rising up. We're going to be stronger as we go forward."
Some of the children will be reburied in a veterans' cemetery on the reservation and others will be interred at family graveyards, tribal officials said.