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Memorial Walk Honors Children Who Died in Boarding Schools

Chynna Lockett

A memorial honoring children who died in the Rapid City Indian Boarding School was held on Native American Day. Organizers spent years researching the facility’s history. This event is one way to acknowledge the findings with the community. 


It takes nine minutes for Heather Dawn Thompson to read the names of 45 deceased children. 

“Ida Logan, Oglala Sioux, age 15, December 15th, 1918. Infant Naomi Goings, Sioux, unknown, August 6th, 1920.”


She passes out signs to children with each of the deceased names, tribe and year of death. The majority of children were from tribes in the Black Hills, but others were brought in from surrounding states. 


Children carry the signs and lead more than 100 adults from Sioux Park down the paved bike path. 


This area was part of the 1,200 acre Rapid City Indian Boarding School through the 1930’s. Now it’s home to recreational parks, businesses and houses. The memorial walk is quiet except for drums playing along the walk from a truck bed. 

Credit Chynna Lockett

The walk ends with a prayer at the Sioux San Hospital, part of Indian Health Services.  It used to be a key location of the boarding school. There are children buried in this area, some in unmarked graves. Sixty nine year old Violet Catches shares her grandmother's story. 


“Our grandfather and his sisters survived Wounded Knee only to be taken away to boarding schools and some of them not to be seen ever again. This is sad. It hurts.” 


The family identifies the grave where Mabel Holy was buried at age 18 in 1901.  her name was spelled wrong. Violet Catches says they still haven’t found records or a grave of their grandma’s sister, Julia. 


“No matter how far, how long time has passed, it’s still a pain in our hearts. It’s the pain that our grandparents lived with because they loved their children.” 


Organizers say many more children died in the boarding school, and they hope to locate their names.