Chief Shawnee calls for investigation to determine if children buried at Kansas residential school



TOPEKA – Shawnee Tribe Chief Ben Barnes Marks the Adoption of Orange Shirt Day by Commemorating the more than 40,000 Indigenous children buried in unmarked graves at residential schools across the United States.

He said there was a Possibility of working with local, state and federal authorities to determine if Native American children were buried at the Shawnee Mission Indian Boarding School in what is now Fairway. A comprehensive national investigation into America’s strategy to assimilate First Nations children under the guise of residential school education is essential and requires significant investment, he said.

“For too long, the truth about residential schools has been missing from national conversations,” said the Chief. “Others may have forgotten it, but not the American tribal nations. The stories of the survivors have been passed down from generation to generation, and the stories of those who did not survive are revealed. “

“We urge every American to honor the residential school survivors and the memory of the children who never returned home,” he said. “It is my moral obligation to seek out these children and, if we find them here, to honor them properly. “

At a press conference Thursday at Shawnee Indian Mission State Historical To place, Barnes said tShawnee Tribe had started exploring the technological issues involved in analyzing mission property with ground penetrating radar to find out what the story might be hiding underneath.

Construction on what came to be called the Shawnee Indian Manual Labor School began in the 1830s with Methodist missionaries receiving 2,000 acres of Shawnee reserve land on which to build it. The children resided at the mission in the 1860s.

Several mission buildings remain on a 12-acre National Historic Landmark managed by the Town of Fairway and owned by the Kansas State Historical Society. Visitors can see dormitories where children slept in a windowless attic after working on mission property.

Barnes said there is a lot to learn about the operational history of the Shawnee mission. Finding answers for the Shawnees is deeply personal as the children’s descendants are friends and family, he said.

“Who were the children who resided here? What were their names and what were their stories? What were the conditions here? How many of these children have never returned to their families? And when they died, where were they buried? said the chief.

Barnes said the US government should commit to working with tribal nations to review every boarding school run by the federal government and those negotiated by federal Indian agents, including the Shawnee Mission School.

“It will be a long journey,” said the chef. “And we can find ourselves faced with some very unpleasant truths. But sunlight is the best disinfectant, and it is only through meaningful collaboration and confronting the true history of federal residential school programs that this country will find reconciliation and healing. “

Orange Shirt Day is a Canadian holiday of remembrance for the victims of the residential school system. The celebration began in 2013 to promote awareness of the impact of forced assimilation on Indigenous communities in Canada. It draws on the stories of Phyllis Jack Webstad, who had her orange shirt taken off on her first day at boarding school.


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