RAPID City – An exhibit that memorializes children whose spirits were almost lost to time, opened at Tusweca Gallery in downtown Rapid City.
The collection of historical photos and documents of children who attended the Rapid City Indian Boarding in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s will be on display Tuesday- Saturday from 12-6 p.m. at Tusweca Gallery at 631 Main St. in downtown Rapid City.
A group of Native women including Kibby Conti, Heather Dawn Thompson and a team of volunteers worked tirelessly for more than a decade researching the whereabouts of the graves of the children who died while attending the boarding school. These women who uncovered much of the information, vowed that the children would never be forgotten.
Their efforts have culminated into what will be known as the “Remembering the Children Memorial” set to be completed in 2024. The memorial will be located on lands that were once part of the Rapid City Indian Boarding School grounds, to the west of the Oyate Health Campus.
According to Amy Sazue, Executive Director of the Remembering the Children Memorial project, her team collaborated with Tusweca Gallery to display the exhibit of historical photos and documents.
“We are proud to share what we have learned about the Rapid City Indian Boarding School, the children who lived and died there, and the impact this story has on our community. It’s exciting to have a physical space where we can share information with the community since this story belongs to all of us,” Sazue said.
During opening night of the exhibit this past Saturday Sept. 30 there was a screening of the short film, “Remember the Children” produced by Warrior Society Productions. Executive Producer of the film, Jim Warne was on site to discuss the film and answer audience questions.
The documentary is a short film intended to be the beginning of a larger story that not only delves into the history of the children who died at the boarding school and the efforts to find and protect their graves but also the legal land issues associated with what was known as the Rapid City Boarding School.
The film has won more than 14 national and international awards including 2022 Humanitarian Awards Outstanding Achievement at the Accolade Global Film Competition.
Joe Pulliam, Oglala Lakota, owner of Tusweca Gallery stated. “In these current times we see a movement of ‘cancel culture’ where the American people are being misinformed, which leads to more misunderstanding and hatred of our Oceti Sakowin relatives. It’s time that we tell our own stories, our own histories. I wanted to dedicate the gallery to helping to tell the story of the Rapid City Indian Boarding, although emotional and difficult, to help the victims and those younger generations suffering from the effects of the reservation and Boarding School policy of the U.S. Government. I am grateful to work with the foundation and the Oceti Sakowin Oyate (community) to bring this story to Rapid City.”
On Monday October 9, Native American Day there will be the “Remembering the Children Memorial Walk” that begins at the Flower Garden in Sioux Park where there will be a reading of the Mayors Proclamation and the names of the children who lost their lives while attending the Rapid City Indian Boarding School. The walk will end at the future site of the memorial where participants will be treated to a traditional meal.
(Contact Ernestine Anunksasan Hopa at firstname.lastname@example.org)