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People across the U.S. and Canada are remembering indigenous children with Orange Shirt Day

Woyatan Lutheran Church and Bird Cage Book Store and Mercantile are each using the day to remember with a candle-lit vigil and a display with educational materials.
Orange Shirt Day, celebrated on September 30, is a day to remember the thousands of children...
Orange Shirt Day, celebrated on September 30, is a day to remember the thousands of children who were victims of Native American boarding schools in the United States and Canada.(Miranda O'Bryan)
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Across the nation Thursday, people were wearing orange shirts in remembrance of the indigenous children who were sent to boarding schools and died or suffered unimaginable horrors.

Right here in Rapid City, two places using the day to educate and heal.

Orange Shirt Day, celebrated on September 30, is a day to remember the thousands of children who were victims of Native American boarding schools in the United States and Canada.

“It’s in remembrance of all the children that were from the boarding school and residential school era that were either taken away and never seen again or came back with the trauma of the school,” said Jonathan Old Horse, pastor at Woyatan Lutheran Church. “And this is our time to remember the things that they did for us and to acknowledge the past and to make sure that we strengthen ourselves to heal from that timeframe.”

Woyatan Lutheran Church and Bird Cage Book Store and Mercantile are each using the day to remember with a candle-lit vigil and a display with educational materials.

Representatives of both say it is a chance to heal from the past and the present.

“Everything that has happened up from those times at the boarding school era with today with all the violence and all the deaths that we’ve seen in our community can really be attributed back to that boarding school era and the children being subjected to unspeakable horrors,” continued Old Horse.

“They kind of go hand in hand because if you think about it, that really was the beginning of our missing and murdered and so that’s also a message that we want to put out there for the community,” said Lily Mendoza, owner of Bird Cage Mercantile and Book Store. “Not only in Rapid City but across the state and across the nation.”

At Bird Cage, taking one day isn’t enough. They plan to continue selling their shirts and providing educational materials to run alongside their other initiatives bringing light to murdered and missing indigenous women, children, and two-spirit.

“So that people can come in and continue to buy the t-shirts because, as far as we’re concerned, every day is Orange Day until all of our children are brought home,” said Mendoza.

Woyatan Lutheran Church’s candle-lit vigil and ceremony were Thursday at 7:30 p.m., with buffalo soup being served at 6.

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