Officials at a First Nation in Saskatchewan say they’ve located more than 2,000 anomalies after using radar at the site of a former Indian residential school.
As Dan Karpenchuk reports, they have not yet been confirmed as human remains.
The ground search of the former Qu’appelle Indian Residential School began about a year and a half ago with the help of ground penetrating radar.
So far, searchers have found a jaw bone fragment believed to be from a child of five or six years of age.
The bones were dated about 1898.
Ground search project leader Sheldon Poitras says this is physical proof of an unmarked grave.
“This discovery here at the site just validates what we have always known. It validates to the world that those stories have some merit.”
In addition to the more than 2,000 anomalies, searchers found underground rooms or tunnels.
He says the data and the stories from survivors of the former residential school is motivation to continue searching.
Poitras says there’s been talk about some drilling to bring up samples and test for DNA.
The chief of the Starblanket Cree Nation, Michael Starr, says the discoveries so far are significant.
“It’s changed the things that we’re going to do. It’s changed our mindset. It’s changed our way of life.”
Some surrounding private landowners have agreed to allow searches on their property, that’s near the former school site. Poitras says the site of the former school is located in the village of Lebret, about 50 miles northeast of Regina.
The school was opened in 1884.
In 1951, it became one of the first residential schools to offer a high school program.
The report from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said the school had a high death rate.
Prime minister Justin Trudeau said he was saddened and disturbed by the finding of a child’s remains along with potential unmarked graves.
Hundreds gathered in Utqiagvik this week to remember Oliver Leavitt (Inupiaq).
As KNBA’s Rhonda McBride reports, Leavitt was a whaling captain, with expert knowledge on arctic survival – as well as an influential Alaska Native leader.
Leavitt played a key role in developing the North Slope Borough and ASRC, a regional Native corporation, which today is Alaska’s largest private company.
Chairman of the board for the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Crawford Patkotak led the memorial service for Leavitt, who died last week at the age of 79.
Patkotak reminded the gathering of how Leavitt championed efforts to develop the Slope’s oil, coal and natural gas.
“He was a staunch fighter for rights to the resources.”
Willie Hensley, a friend of Leavitt’s for 50 years, gave the eulogy. Hensley says the two worked together to implement the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. He hailed Leavitt as an “Arctic diplomat,” who helped open doors for Alaska Natives in Washington, D.C.
“Our nation’s capital became his hunting ground. And he was good at it. This was is the kind of job most Inupiat wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. But he did his duty for all of us, and he understood who had the power.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was among the many statewide leaders who attended Leavitt’s service.
Sen. Murkowski said she too was a student in the “School of Oliver Leavitt” – and just as with other Native leaders, he taught her how to fight more effectively for Alaska causes.
“It’s important for you to understand how Oliver touched the world.”
Sen. Murkowski said leaders across the country have been influenced by Leavitt, whose efforts raised “the level of empowerment for all Alaska Native peoples.”
Sen. Murkowski says a flag has been flown atop the nation’s Capitol in Leavitt’s honor, and when it’s taken down, will be given to his family.
Tribal leaders and U.S. New Mexico lawmakers are gathering in Albuquerque on Wednesday to celebrate the STOP Act becoming law.
The Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act prohibits the exporting of sacred Native American items, and increases penalties for stealing and illegally trafficking tribal cultural patrimony.
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