by Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
MT PLEASANT, MICHIGAN - The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan voted last week to accept conveyance of approximately eight-acres of the former Mt. Pleasant and Michigan Industrial Indian Boarding School properties, as well as the Mission Creek Cemetery.
Site of 116 sets of remains of American Indian children
This approval was made with the understanding that the Tribe would be able to secure an appropriate amount of setback property to successfully execute any plans to mitigate, improve or develop the properties in the future.
The decision by the Tribal Council came after several months of research to determine the feasibility to convey ownership to the Tribe. Given the history of the Indian Boarding School on the property, several considerations were made based on archeological review and input from tribal members through a series of focus groups.
The preliminary archeological findings are that there is a possibility that 116 children may be buried there. Earlier reports were that perhaps as many of 700 may be buried on the site.
School operated until 1934
The Tribe vows to act slowly and utilize the services of trained archeologists, who are sensitive to Indian concerns in any development of the property in the future.
“It would be nice to re-establish an educational component to the property. Many children who attended the facility were forgotten. Perhaps now we have an opportunity to create something that remembers their existence,”
reflected Tribal Chief Dennis Kequom.
His grandmother attended the Michigan Industrial Indian Boarding School.
The Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School was established in 1893 by an act of Congress, compelling Indian children to be removed from the care of their families to attend residential schools. The Mt. Pleasant Indian School operated until 1934, with an average annual enrollment of 300 Indian students.
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