(Fairway, Kansas) On September 30, 2021, the Shawnee Tribe commemorated “Orange Shirt Day” at the Shawnee Indian MIssion State Historic Site. Chief Ben Barnes spoke to Shawnee citizens in attendance, the Kansas City Native and non-Native community, invited press and local and national leadership representatives to encourage comprehensive federal investigation into all residential boarding schools beginning from the early 19th century onward. Orange t-shirts with “yoma hasiski kinicaaninaki m’kawaki” or “This land. Our children. Find them.” were distributed and many in attendance toured inside the East building, formerly the boys dormitory.
“The Shawnee Tribe is proud to embrace and adopt Orange Shirt Day,” said Chief Barnes, “and on this day, we urge every American to honor boarding school survivors and the memory of the children who never made it home.”
Orange Shirt Day began in Canada in 2013 to remember the thousands of Indigenous children killed at church-run residential schools. Tribal nations and advocates across America are adopting this movement to support thorough investigations of similar conditions at boarding schools in the U.S.
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Chief Barnes’ op-ed commenting on Orange Shirt Day noting “The Department of Interior is well poised to capitalize on the momentum inspired by this day of national recognition to heal the lingering pain felt in Native communities everywhere. We are confident that the Department will do everything in its power to turn over the stones of the past and help us finally gain some closure over this horrific policy. We look forward to working with Secretary Haaland and her staff to chart a new path towards healing and reconciliation.”
KSHB-TV: Orange Shirt Day remembers thousands of Native children killed at church-run residential schools
Find them. Name them. Return them. Honor them. That's the plea from Native Americans on Orange Shirt Day, which remembers the thousands of Native children killed at church-run residential schools.
Kansas City Star: Are children buried at Johnson County Shawnee Indian Mission? Chief calls for search
Shawnee Tribe Chief Ben Barnes is calling on federal and local leaders to investigate the history of Shawnee Indian Mission in Johnson County, and uncover any children who might have been buried there. On Thursday, Barnes stood on the grounds of the former boarding school in Fairway, established by the Rev. Thomas Johnson — for whom Johnson County is named. The mission, now a state historic site, housed students from several tribes, forcing them to perform manual labor, with the intent of assimilating them into white American culture and Christianity, or as Barnes said, “to quote-unquote civilize Indigenous children.”
Kansas Reflector: Shawnee chief seeks inquiry to determine if children buried at Kansas boarding school Barnes: ‘Find them. Name them. Return them. Honor them.’
Shawnee Tribe Chief Ben Barnes marked adoption of Orange Shirt Day by memorializing the estimated 40,000 Indigenous children buried in unmarked graves at residential boarding schools across the United States. He said there was an opportunity to collaborate with local, state and federal officials to determine whether Native American children were buried at the Shawnee Mission Indian Boarding School in what is now Fairway. A comprehensive national investigation of the American strategy of assimilating First Nations children through the guise of boarding school education is essential and requires significant investment, he said.
The Shawnee Tribe called for federal lawmakers and the Biden administration to open an investigation into what happened at the Shawnee Indian Mission and other residential boarding schools across the country. Tribe leaders held a news conference Thursday at the Shawnee Indian Mission historical site near Mission Road and West 53rd Street highlighting the need to answer if Native American children are buried on land nearby in unmarked graves.
Shawnee Mission Post: Shawnee Tribe, Fairway announce plan to investigate history of Shawnee Indian Mission
At a press conference Thursday to mark Orange Shirt Day — a memorial to the thousands of lives lost at Indian residential schools — the chief of the Shawnee Tribe announce a partnership with the city of Fairway to investigate the history of the Shawnee Indian Mission while calling on the federal government to research U.S. Indian boarding schools nationwide.
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Chief Barnes Comments at 2:35 minute mark.
Indian Country Today: Remembrance Day brings new push for U.S boarding school commission
In Fairway, Kansas, the Shawnee Tribe commemorated the day at the Shawnee Indian Mission, where the tribe has announced it is working to bring in ground-penetrating radar to search for remains at the site. The tribe also is reviewing restoration of the mission. “For far too long, the truth about Indian boarding schools has been absent from national conversations,” Chief Ben Barnes said in remarks at the Shawnee Mission. “Others may have forgotten, but America’s tribal nations have not. Survivors’ stories have been handed down from generation to generation, and the stories of those who did not survive are coming to light.”