Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Hiawatha Indian Insane Asylum Sacred Burial Grounds

Healing and Prayer Ceremony


The annual ceremony will be on May 15, 2011 beginning at 12 noon in Canton at the Canton Golf Course between the 4th and 5th holes, located 18 miles southeast of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Harold Iron Shield, a member of Native American Reburial Restoration Committee began this annual event and kept it alive until his death in 2008. It is now being revived to honor and give our prayers of peace and healing to those buried there.

Everyone is welcome to attend.


In 1902, the U.S. Government opened the Hiawatha Insane Asylum for American Indians. The purpose was to care for those members of tribes who were allegedly insane. The asylum was operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Indians who made up the population of the asylum were Indians seen by the Government as "trouble makers"--spiritual leaders, medicine men, vision quest seekers, those who resisted reservation boundaries and boarding school students who did not conform to school policies.

Today the 121 bodies of the Hiawatha patients who died in the hospital and could not be returned to their families lie in state in what is now the Hiawatha Country Club golf course. These are sacred burial grounds.

Just off the fourth fairway one will find a split rail fence surrounding the small cemetery, a poorly made monument sits in its middle bearing the names of those interred there. A small sign in red is posted at each entrance stating that golfers may not hit balls from inside the confines of the cemetery. They are warnings that go unheeded a good part of the time. For more information go to:

- A ceremony calling out the names of those known buried there and a prayer ribbon for each name will be tied to the rail fence in their honor with a final prayer for peace and healing will be offered.

- Feel free to bring cedar, sweet grass, and sage for smudging, a token rock to lie at the plaque of names and tobacco for offering.

- Bring traditional foods for offerings to “the pitiful ones.”

- Bring a lunch to sit on the grass off the golf course and socialize with those who have attended—this is a coming together—a gathering. Bring a little extra to share as that is what we are all about.

- Looking for a pipe carrier to lead the ceremony


- And looking for singers and drummers who can sing sacred songs

(contact: or just show up)


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