Ex-boarding school for Native children owning up to its past

January 2, 2022

Middle schooler Rarity Cournoyer stood at the heart of the Red Cloud Indian School campus and chanted a prayer song firmly and solemnly in the Lakota language — in a place where past generations of students were punished for speaking their mother tongue.

Her classmates stood around her at a prayer circle designed with archetypes of Native American spirituality, with a circular sidewalk representing a traditional medicine wheel, crossed by sidewalks pointing to the four cardinal directions.

Lakota language teacher Amery Brave Heart walked quietly with a small bundle of smoldering sage stems. Brave Heart — sporting a long braid on the very campus where his grandfather, Basil Brave Heart, said he had his long hair shorn and carelessly trampled on as a newly arrived pupil — offered the sage to each student as part of a brief smudging or purification ritual, in which they symbolically waved the scented smoke toward themselves.

Source: Ex-boarding school for Native children owning up to its past