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US Army to return remains of six Native American students to families

Written by Rachel McDevitt, All Things Considered Host | Jun 14, 2019 3:23 PM
Carlisle_Barracks_Cemetery.jpg

This cemetery on the grounds of Carlisle Barracks holds the remains of students from the former Carlisle Indian Industrial School. (Photo: Scott Finger/U.S. Army War College Photo Lab)

(Harrisburg) -- The remains of Native American children who died while attending school in the midstate more than a century ago will soon be returned to their surviving family members.

This is the third year in a row the United States Army will exhume the remains of students from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Cumberland County, now the site of Carlisle Barracks.

The school brought in more than 10,000 children from across the country and sought to separate them from their Native American traditions in favor of European-American culture before closing in 1918. Many died because of disease and harsh conditions. More than 180 students were buried on the grounds.

Lieutenant Colonel Don Peters with Army National Military Cemeteries said they are gratified they are able to return the children to their loved ones.

"So far we have been able to return five Native American children who passed away, unfortunately, while they were at the Carlisle school," Peters said. "And we have six scheduled disinterments for this year."

Exhumations are scheduled to begin Saturday and are expected to take about a month.

The Army plans to recover the remains of Ophelia Powless (aka Ophelia Powias), Sophia Caulon (aka Sophy Coulon), and Jamima Metoxen (aka Jemima Meloxen) of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin; Henry Jones of the Iowa Tribe; Alice Springer of the Omaha people; and Adam McCarty (aka Adam McCarthy) of the Modoc people. The children died in the 1880s and 90s.

The remains will be transferred to the families in private ceremonies according to individual customs.

This story has been updated to clarify the number of students buried in the former school's cemetery.

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