The remains of Northern Arapahoe children who died more than a century ago at a boarding school in Pennsylvania can finally return home. That’s what Army officials told tribal representatives at a meeting Tuesday in South Dakota.
More than 200 Native American children from various tribes—including at least three Northern Arapahoe—are buried at the Carlisle Indian Boarding School. Today, the land belongs to the U.S. Army War College.
Northern Arapahoe tribal historic preservation office director Yufna Soldierwolf was at the meeting when the Army vowed to pay to return the remains of her ancestors.
“To me it means two words: healing and closure,” Soliderwolf says. “You would think this is a basic human right, a basic civil right or a basic inherited treaty right that we would all get to come home and be with our families. We have to push—and just now recently get passed—to ask for our people back. In a superpower nation, that’s pretty appalling.”
Soliderwolf’s great-uncle died and was buried at Carlisle when he was 14.
The Northern Arapahoe and other tribes claim the right to their ancestral remains under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
Soldierwolf says there’s no word yet on when the remains of at least three Northern Arapahoe children will be back on the Wind River Reservation, but a verbal agreement from the Army is a huge step.