Native Americans honor boarding school children who died with a march

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Hundreds searched for closure on this Native American Day as they walked in honor of the children who died at an Indian boarding school, now known as the Sioux San Hospital.

People march to Sioux San Hospital where the Rapid City Indian Boarding School once stood in the late 19th century to the 20th century. (KOTA TV)

Dozens and dozens of names of Native American children who died at the Rapid City Indian Boarding School were called Monday morning.

For Sherry Romero, a name stood out from a list published on Facebook post by a research committee. Romero learned her great grandfather and his sister attended the school. A piece of history hidden from her for years.

"They weren't allowed to speak their language. Their traditions were not allowed. And so it was just something that wasn't spoken about," Romero said.

Romero is trying to find out more information about her relatives but said genealogy is difficult when records don't exist.

Violet Catches, 69, knows that struggle all to well as she discovered her mother's aunt, Mabel Holy, just last year.

"Shocked. You think, ok, they talk about your grandmother, your grandfather at home. You think ok so they passed away. They were buried somewhere but we never knew they never came home," Catches said.

Catches shed tears as she told the story of her relative. After surviving the Wounded Knee Massacre, Mabel was taken to the boarding school, where she died at 18 years old.

Finding information is a roadblock for the research committee and the families of students who died since many children were not given proper burials.

But a committee plans to raise $50,000 to create a cemetery to change that.

"To remember the children to give them a burial site so that way people can go there and to honor them the way that they should be. There are other people out there that have that. They have a burial site. They have a headstone," Lindsay Huffman, a volunteer with the research committee.

Huffman said the Mayor pledged to provide funding to build a fence for the cemetery and if completed the city will maintain the premises.