Tribe urges military to expedite return of 1879 child’s remains
Federal authorities plan to return the remains of a 13-year-old boy to his Native American tribe in South Dakota this fall, they announced Friday. The statement comes days after the tribe called for a faster return of the child who died at a federal boarding school for Native children in 1879.
The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate wrote to the Chief of the U.S. Army Cemetery Office this week demanding movement in their efforts to have the remains of Amos LaFromboise repatriated from a cemetery at Carlisle Barracks, a military installation in Pennsylvania.
The letter from three Native American Rights Fund attorneys to Army Cemeteries Executive Director Karen Durham-Aguilera describes the child as the son of one of the tribe’s most famous leaders, Chief Joseph LaFromboise , who signed an 1867 treaty establishing the current boundaries of their reservation. .
The Army Cemeteries Office emailed a statement saying the exhumation of Amos LaFromboise was approved a year ago and that the Army also told the boy’s family and the President of the tribe last summer that his remains would be returned in 2023. His exhumation will be entirely up to the military. expenses, the office said.
“The military currently plans to conduct Amos’s exhumation in September and the required federal registry notice will be issued within the next 60 days,” the statement said.
The tribe argues that the military demanded higher repatriation standards than the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, requiring a signed affidavit from the child’s next living relative, which may be difficult or impossible for 19th century remains.
“Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate expected Amos to return home from Carlisle Indian Industrial School,” they wrote, “to lead his people like his father and serve as a role model for future generations of tribal leaders.”
Lawyers for the tribe said Friday their request is to have Amos LaFromboise repatriated under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and that the tribe is willing to discuss next steps.
Amos LaFromboise died 20 days after arriving in Carlisle the year the school opened. The tribe’s letter indicates that the army has already dug up and buried his remains at least three times in three different locations. The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate want to bury him next to his father on the Lake Traverse reservation in northeastern South Dakota.
Tribal historians say six children of tribal chiefs were sent to Carlisle in 1879. Three of the boys died there and a fourth died shortly after returning home.
At a ceremony two years ago to return nine exhumed remains of Rosebud Sioux children, US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said forced assimilation practices in Indian schools had stripped clothing, children’s language and culture.
The Carlisle school put the children in harsh conditions which sometimes resulted in their death. Founded by an army officer, the school cut their braids, dressed them in military-style uniforms and punished them for speaking their native language. European names were imposed on them.
More than 10,000 Native American children were educated there and endured harsh conditions that sometimes led to death from diseases such as tuberculosis. There have been several cycles of exhumation and repatriation to Carlisle in recent years.
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