- Our chiefs, I don't think they ever thought they were sending their children off to die.
- They stripped them of language and culture and they just became a number.
- The white man wanted you to learn his way.
- I want everybody to know what happened to our children in those boarding schools.
- Right away, I knew I had to go.
- You know, I heard a lot of stories about it, and I want to see it for myself.
- We went there to bring all three of our children home.
- We believe that we can't move forward until all of our ancestors are back home with us.
- Native Americans, we're gone.
We don't exist anymore.
announcer: "Home from School: The Children of Carlisle," now only on Independent Lens.
♪♪ [insects and birds chirping] [light music] ♪ ♪ [horse chuffs] ♪ ♪ [indistinct chatter] ♪ ♪ - It is a great mistake to think that the Indian is born an inevitable savage.
He is born a blank, like all the rest of us.
Transfer the savage-born infant to the surroundings of civilization, and he will grow to possess a civilized language and habit.
- We give our children to the government to do as they think best in teaching them the right way, hoping the officers will, after a while, permit us, go and see them.
[train whistle blows] [crowd clamoring] - When the train stopped at the station, there was a giant crowd of white people there.
The white people were yelling at us and making a great noise.
- I felt the cold blades of the scissors against my neck and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids.
Then... [scissors snip] I lost my spirit.
- Kill the Indian in him... and save the man.
- These kids went, and they were taken from their families.
- Scared, hungry... just trying to understand what was happening.
- I want everybody to know what happened to our children in those boarding schools.
- They're buried here.
They have been here too long, and it's time for them to go home, and... it needs to be done.
- So I just reached down and touched his headstone and told him, "We're gonna come back and get you."
[dramatic music] ♪ ♪ [bird chirping] ♪ ♪ - I was younger when I first found out that the Arapaho kids died and were buried at Carlisle.
I've carried this for this long.
But it wasn't just me.
It was our elders.
It was their generations before them.
I was always told about Sharp Nose being this war chief and coming from these warrior societies.
He was our hero.
His son Little Chief was born around the time of Indian Wars, where we're really feeling the pressure from the U.S. government.
His parents were seeing that life change of being settled and corralled onto the reservation.
Their nomadic way of life is kind of just gone.
- The white man wanted you to learn his way.
Sharp Nose, he said, "I want you to go to school to learn the white man's way, "so when you come back, you can tell us "what the white man is like and everything-- "the weapons and the way he talks and the way he thinks."
- And it wasn't just Sharp Nose.
It was a lot of our other war chiefs who sent their children to a school far away from here, to Carlisle.
And it was setting that precedence of saying, we need to do it.
Hopefully it's gonna be a better future for us.
Imagine being a 13-year-old boy, to be able to go out and go out to these Indian Wars with your uncles and your grandpas and your father, who's a war chief-- I mean, that's huge.
Their dads all being leaders, tribal leaders of their bands, a lot of them were at Custer's Last Stand, Greasy Grass.
[people clamoring] A lot of these little boys were running ammunition.
They were holding horses, and they were actually learning how to be protectors and how to be leaders.
Going from that to a 13-year-old and shipped off to Carlisle and be told, you know, "Who you are isn't right.
"Let's take the savage nature away from you.
Let's take that away and make you a real man."
♪ ♪ Once we settled at Wind River, Sharp Nose became a scout for the U.S. Army.
President Chester Arthur came and said, "Can you guide me to Yellowstone?"
And Sharp Nose said, "Yes, I will."
When the president came west and met Sharp Nose, he said, "I'm sorry to let you know "that your son passed away at Carlisle Boarding School in Pennsylvania."
We grow our hair long to honor our people, and when they pass on, we cut our hair in mourning.
We put that hair with them.
Sharp Nose wasn't even given the chance to send his hair with him.
♪ ♪ Carlisle was something that I grew up listening about.
That was the stories I heard about boarding schools.
It was waiting for me.
I was like, "Why didn't anybody bring these kids home?"
♪ ♪ - We live in a beautiful area, an amazing area.
We have beautiful families.
We have beautiful children.
We have our grandparents.
We have people that speak our language.
We practice our traditions.
We practice our ceremonies.
And we're still here.
I mean, that's amazing.
I tell my kids that every day.
But we're always waiting for the next bad thing to happen.
This has become our norm as a people.
To live in this chaos, in this drama, in this hurt, in this pain, the grief.
If we didn't have Relocation, we didn't have, you know, the Allotment Act, if we didn't have the boarding schools-- as a people, a lot of times we're in denial of these things that happened.
I mean, nobody wants to admit all the horrible things that have happened.
We want to... not even think about those tragedies.
♪ ♪ - At the early times, the school systems were here on the reservation, were attended by predominantly Shoshone students.
And eventually when the Arapaho tribe joined the tribe here, they also became students here.
♪ ♪ A lot of them were forced to attend the schools.
Everything was so foreign that they had no idea how to deal with it.
- The treaties promised education.
But it was a white man's education.
They sent the churches in to provide boarding schools or day schools to educate the child in a religious way.
When they went in, they had kerosene put in their hairs to get rid of lice, whether they had it or not.
I mean, it was just the attitude that when they came in, they were... And I don't even want to say-- unclean.
♪ ♪ - Then came a new idea to remove children from the influences of their traditional cultures, the influences of their loved ones.
So when children were sent away to this new place, the Carlisle Indian School, they did not have any contact except through letters with their relatives.
♪ ♪ Students did not go back to their home communities.
So they were never influenced by the extended family.
- We had no control over our destiny because the white people came and took us away and took us to Carlisle.
And it took us seven days to get to Carlisle on the train.
- It was a very traumatic experience for those kids.
All these Indian children were just kind of kept as... to me, I always think of it as prisoners.
♪ ♪ [dramatic music] - When the U.S. was still this new nation, they were concerned with keeping the peace with Native nations who were still quite powerful at that time.
They're negotiating through treaties, but there's also this agenda of civilization and Christianity.
So we have day schools, on-reservation boarding schools.
Carlisle was the first off-reservation boarding school.
- The prime goal of the mission schools is conversion.
And the prime goal of this school of Carlisle was Americanization.
You basically teach them and assimilate them and you make them as much like you as you can.
The children that were sent here had very little experience of the education or the English language.
So the rupture for them was pretty dramatic.
♪ ♪ - I was transcribing the weekly Indian school newspapers, and so I became privy to stories of children who had passed away.
♪ ♪ - My children never went to a school where there was a cemetery on the grounds.
♪ ♪ - The school was founded by Richard Henry Pratt in 1879.
He came into contact with Native American people during the Indian Wars.
- Richard Henry Pratt was very much a man of his times.
And in some ways, he had some quite radical ideas.
Pratt lived at a time when the whole science of race was really developing in the U.S. and globally.
He worked with African-American troops during the Civil War, and he comes to this personal opinion that human beings have equal capacities given equal opportunities.
Then he applies that as well to his work with Native American prisoners of war.
That's the point at which he's trying to find an educational institution to continue this experiment.
- The United States War Department agreed to let him start this program at the abandoned Carlisle barracks, which had been empty for seven years.
And it was ideal for Pratt because it was within easy access of white culture centers-- Washington, D.C., New York City.
And it was not within proximity of any Indian communities, which made it a place where he could isolate students from their Native influences and prepare them for assimilation into the white world.
Pratt was a military man, and his design for Carlisle was to organize it as a military training school.
The first action would have been to remove their traditional regalia, cut their hair, and put them into uniform.
- And one of the first things he targeted was the languages.
If you are robbed of your language, what you lose is the contact with the whole belief structure.
You lose the capacity to say certain things.
You lose the capacity to understand certain kind of spiritual beliefs, literally severing the contact with the past, with traditions, with memories, and with the stories.
- The academic side was very minimal.
Very rudimentary reading, writing, and arithmetic.
If you were to compare that curriculum with the public schools, it might've been equivalent to maybe a fifth-, sixth-grade education.
Half the school day was devoted to work.
It made it possible to run these institutions on very low funding levels from Congress.
And it served also the purpose of training people in this very repetitive, very low level manual labor training.
So there was very conscious policy decisions not to offer training that might lead to going on to college or higher education or professional training in medicine or law or something like that.
[bell tolling] - They were instructed by the bell and the whistle.
They would get dressed and go through their detail.
They would go to breakfast, walking in separate lines, in formation to the dining hall.
They were always segregated by gender when they were eating their meals, when they were playing on the campus.
- It's important to recognize that the federal school system for Indians really takes off in those decades after Carlisle was established.
- By 1879 to 1920s, about 25 different Indian schools, industrial schools, boarding schools pop up all over the United States, though almost all in the West, except for this one.
- How did these boarding schools get filled up with all these children?
The children of these individuals who had very recently been leading war parties against the U.S., those were the children that they really wanted to recruit.
Certainly, there were very forceful police tactics of removing children forcibly from their communities.
People were being dispossessed, disenfranchised, and they wanted to make a living and they wanted to feed their children and they wanted to live as Native people, but they recognize, "Here's an institution that can be useful, "potentially useful to us.
"We need to be able to negotiate.
"We need English.
"We need knowledge of U.S. society and legal systems."
- Our chiefs at the time could see that our people were losing that hope.
They were doing it as a way to bring that hope back to our people.
And I don't think they ever thought they were sending their children off to die.
- Carlisle has that symbolic impact that reaches well beyond the 8,000 or so students who came to Carlisle and their descendants now several generations later.
- I think one of the crucial things to understand about the whole educational experiment is, it's not only an American story.
It's also an international story.
What happened at Carlisle has a parallel with what happened at schools across the world in settler-colonial nations.
- Situations like the U.S., Canada, Australia, where settlers come to stay and take over Indigenous lands... much of the school practice and training of students was very intentionally designed to disassociate Native people from their land base.
- And the term "cultural genocide" has been used very openly by the Canadians after their Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.
- Canada got a class-action settlement from the government to do their Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We are not able to pursue that litigation here in the U.S. because of the statute of limitations.
So it's up to us either find the truth ourselves or, you know, continue to pressure the government to bring that truth forward.
- Once we start taking back that history, once we start taking back that culture, we'll be able to open new doors for our children to learn, to bring back healing... because right now, we're in shock.
For 140 years, we've been in shock.
[insects chirping] - It all started in the '70s.
They wanted to repatriate the remains of the ancestors that went to school in Carlisle.
- When they got to doing the research, that's when they found out there were three boys that were buried at Carlisle.
That's when we started really going after it.
And we knew that this was going to be a historic event.
We knew that we were setting precedents all over the United States.
- Generations have asked, and I actually have letters from my grandpa who wrote here and my dad who wrote here, my uncle who wrote here requesting for them.
Well, that resistance came from a stereotype to say, "These people no longer exist.
How are they important to the history?"
[dramatic music] - "Dear Yufna Soldier Wolf, "I can understand and appreciate your desire "to move the remains of your family member "to your local burial site.
"However, this cemetery has become part of our community "and is a historic site.
"This cemetery represents one of the most beautiful tributes to the Native American people."
♪ ♪ - They just weren't gonna listen to us.
They all said no.
"No, we're not gonna do this.
"You can't do this.
You can't remove them.
It's a historical place."
You got to get all these affidavits, and, you know, you got to jump through all these hoops.
All their arguments were, you know, no, no, no.
- Military does death very well, which is a sad commentary, but it's the nature of the business.
And I know there was always a feeling that those interred at the Carlisle barracks were being treated well.
There's this ambivalence about whether to leave people there or to bring them home.
And I know there's been an evolution of relations with the Indians over many years that I'm sure have affected that.
♪ ♪ - Something like Carlisle, the obligations that the military and the government have is closing that door, closing that chapter to a dark history in America.
And for us as Arapaho, you know, we believe that we can't move forward until all of our ancestors, all of our relatives are back home with us.
- We never gave up.
It took generations.
Maybe they didn't expect that.
And finally, after years, the Army gave in.
- I was always told we're not gonna go until we get our children, and that's what's gonna finally happen.
And it's been surreal.
It's like, we're actually gonna do this now.
- Yufna was telling me that she was working on getting our children back from Carlisle.
And I told her, I said, "I need to go with you, "and I think that it should be our children bringing our children back."
- The youth were selected based on the letter that they wrote.
And the letter asked them, how important is it for tribal nations to bring their children home from boarding schools?
- "The leaving of our children in Carlisle contributes "to what is considered intergenerational trauma, "why they are so much more than just graves and human remains.
They are our history and our heritage."
I always prided myself on my awareness not only of my own culture, but of other cultures.
I went and goofed around at the powwows.
Go run around.
Go eat food.
They used to have people to keep kids in line, like, you know, get after you or chase you, make you go sit down.
'[rhythmic percussion] ♪ ♪ - I feel like everywhere I go, a little piece of home is with me.
Like, my family's on the reservation, my people.
It's where I grew up, so it's always gonna be with me.
You can be somewhere else, but home's always gonna be with you.
♪ ♪ - I know this just seems like a few people going, but you guys are affecting probably every single person that lives in this community.
Every single one of our tribal members, all of those families that are struggling and they don't know why, because that's what you see with a lot of historical trauma.
Want to look at yourself?
- No, it's okay.
You trust me?
- I trust you.
- [laughs] I wouldn't trust me.
Does it look bad?
- No, I'm kidding.
[laughing] ♪ ♪ [soft dramatic music] ♪ ♪ [bird chirping] ♪ ♪ [indistinct chatter] ♪ ♪ - We wanted to do some medicine gathering prior to going to Carlisle.
We wanted to bring our elders and our youth together so the elders could teach our youth valuable lessons about our culture and our ceremonies.
[indistinct chatter] - The Arapaho, we have our own way of life.
[indistinct chatter] We live under this pipe... and its teachings... and the unwritten laws that... we have to go by.
- We use the pine tree.
We use the beaver.
We use sweet medicine.
We use other ingredients into our cedars.
We just don't go start picking.
There's always prayer before we start.
♪ ♪ - This was important for them to go along with us.
I think they'll learn.
♪ ♪ - When they first told us about it, you know, right away I knew I had to go to be able to go over there and witness the bringing them home.
- Did we pack?
Any of us pack?
- Uh, no.
- Not yet.
- I didn't.
- I'm doing laundry.
- Right after this.
- Right after this, I am going to pack.
[laughter] You don't really know what's gonna happen 'cause nothing like this really has ever happened before.
So there could be negative consequences as well.
It could intensify the pain and hurt felt by the community, but it could also heal them.
So there's also that little bit of anxiety in me.
- We don't really know how to exactly go about it yet.
We're paving the way, but yet we don't even know the way.
- I think we shouldn't be too excited.
I think we should just, like, stay humble 'cause we don't know what we're gonna find at all.
♪ ♪ - Anxious, at the same time, I don't know.
I don't know.
The unknown's over there.
That's what I'm thinking about, but I'm ready.
We need to wake up.
We need to do something.
We need to help our young people.
[melodic chanting in Native language] ♪ ♪ [dramatic music] ♪ ♪ [indistinct chatter] - There's definitely gonna be, like, a lot of emotion involved with what we're doing.
- But I don't think I know them, though.
- It's gonna bring back a lot of memories, and it's gonna be hard for them.
[melodic chanting in Native language] ♪ ♪ - My grandfather went to school at Carlisle Indian school.
And I never could figure out why he never talked about Carlisle.
It dawned on me why he didn't.
Because it was a very traumatic experience.
♪ ♪ Going to Carlisle... ♪ ♪ That's what we felt-- just doing the right thing for them.
♪ ♪ [train chugging] [train whistle blows] - Imagine the journey that this group of Northern Arapaho and Shoshone children made across thousands of miles in a period where the railroad system is very piecemeal.
There was no single line.
[train whistle blows] - And when they arrived there, how lonely that must've been, you know, for them to be so far away from their parents and our people.
You know, those were our children.
Those were our babies.
[voice breaking] Those were sacred to us.
♪ ♪ - The first day that we were at Carlisle, kids, you know, they want to go, go, go, you know.
And I had to kind of slow them down because we needed to be there, you know, and they wanted to see all of Carlisle.
♪ ♪ - I heard a lot of stories about it, and I actually want to see it for myself.
I can just imagine those kids, you know, are walking around in their uniforms.
I feel like I see them.
- I grew up in Pennsylvania.
I spent years here in the town of Carlisle, never hearing about the Carlisle Indian school.
And so while this is such an important history to Native Americans, it is almost completely unknown to the rest of the population.
- And what I noticed over there, they never mention what happened, what took place over there, but they talk about Jim Thorpe.
That's their main topic.
They push us under the rug.
♪ ♪ - Stereotypically, Native Americans, we're gone.
We don't exist anymore in this nation.
We exist only in books, on TV...
- Look around, and it looks green and... like, kind of like a happy place, but it's not.
- The students built a lot of the buildings, sewed all of the clothes, farmed the food that they ate at the table.
When the children went out in the summer, they farmed them out to families.
They called them outings, and basically, they were hired labor.
♪ ♪ - You feel really angry and, you know-- 'cause they're your family members.
You know, you feel very protective of your family.
And I, you know, just couldn't imagine, you know, any of my younger brothers or sisters going through something like that.
- When they got to Carlisle, they got names that the army soldiers had.
- There was Little Chief.
He later became known as Dickens Nor.
There was Horse, and he later became Horace Washington.
And there was Little Plume.
He later became Hayes Vanderbilt Friday.
- It just still gets me.
What did these little kids do?
How can that many children die?
♪ ♪ - The number is 238.
That includes children as young as nine months old, up into individuals who were in their late 20s when they died.
There are epidemics that come through town.
There are individuals who arrive at the school already very sick and die with tuberculosis, which was basically endemic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
- They were also in a completely different climate, and they were surrounded by a different environment.
And we know now that anybody who is suffering emotional deprivation, their immune system is compromised.
The children were much more vulnerable to all the European diseases, just as Native people had been done for centuries.
- Those kids had each other, and when one died, and then the next one died, you know, and they all died within a year of each other, you know.
They needed each other.
♪ ♪ [eerie music] ♪ ♪ - We all kind of gathered, and we all kind of walked in really careful.
♪ ♪ - I went and walked in that cemetery... where they were buried, you know, and then I could feel... feel the pain... And that heavy, heavy heart.
- A lot of these headstones don't have names.
So those are kids that are never gonna go home.
I feel like the people that put them there just didn't care.
♪ ♪ - I think we were just all kind of in shock, all of us.
And one of the things that we decided to do was, we decided to pray.
- [speaking Native language] ♪ ♪ - The cedar ceremony, you know, that gives us a new energy, you know, and we're protected.
It was handed down to us through generations since creation, you know.
That's why we use it, and it helps us, you know-- just kind of, like, you feel better after you...
But it's a powerful step, you know.
- Well, this is what we're taught-- when a person passes on, but their spirit is still here.
They're still roaming around.
[camera shutter clicks] [somber music] [indistinct chatter, camera shutters clicking] - All right, this is Dr. Elizabeth DiGangi.
Dr. DiGangi is the forensic anthropologist that we're gonna be using.
- So what we're gonna be doing is analyzing the bodies of these children, and we're mainly looking for how old the children were when they died and if we can tell anything about if they were male or female.
In general, every single skeleton, I treat it exactly the same.
I treat it as I would treat the bones of my grandmother, right?
Or the bones of my brother or the bones of somebody I love because these are all individuals who somebody loved and who somebody still loves.
- The tribe has been very clear.
They understand what happens in the ground and that there might not be the full set of remains or almost nothing.
Obviously, the more remains you have, the more analysis you can do, the more confident you can be.
We're gonna screen all the soil for all the objects.
We're gonna return all the objects all the way down to buttons and things like that.
And we're gonna return all the human remains.
♪ ♪ - We were gonna stay in there, and we were gonna watch.
They made us stay kind of towards the end of the cemetery.
And so we just brought chairs in and we just sat there and we waited, you know, and prayed through most of it.
♪ ♪ - Suddenly, it seemed like all at once, it was brought to the surface, like, with the box.
Everything came into a sort of a focus in that moment.
And so then I introduced myself in Arapaho 'cause I'm like, "How long has it been "since they've heard their own language "that they were probably more comfortable with than English, anyway?"
Everyone was crying.
♪ ♪ - [speaking Arapaho] They go home.
♪ ♪ - When I got back to my room, I video-called my son, and he's five years old.
[voice breaking] And knowing that we had little boys here being thrown inside a jail cell 'cause they want their mom or their dad... [sniffles] That's when it hit me.
And the hardest part here is knowing that I'll leave with my children, but there are so many more there... [sniffles] Who might've passed away knowing that-- feeling like no one loved them and feeling alone... dying alone.
♪ ♪ - Hayes was 12 years old... when he died.
- I knew instantly.
I knew looking into the grave that the bones were an older person.
Everybody knew it and everyone was frozen and didn't say anything.
And I just--I already knew what the answer was.
♪ ♪ - There was an original Carlisle Indian School cemetery over by the grandstand.
For various reasons, they needed to find a new location for a cemetery.
And in 1927, the persons that were buried in that original cemetery were disinterred and reinterred here at this cemetery.
- In the summer of 2017, we decided that it would be helpful to create a GIS map of the cemetery as it currently exists.
I realized that one of the sites-- specifically the site for Little Plume, the headstone was not in the place that we had it on our GIS map.
And I found maps there that indicated that sometime within the last 50 years, a swap had been made, most likely when headstones were being repaired or replaced.
- That was when they got the headstones mixed up on Hayes and the two Apache boys.
We kept trying to steer them over to number 15, you know.
I mean, I knew.
Everybody else knew, But it was like the Army was just digging in their heels.
I realize that they have their red tape that they have to go through, but they just didn't listen to us.
[indistinct chatter] - The searing moment for me... and it went on for close to two hours and talked to those individuals-- that it was not the person we were looking for.
It was not their relative.
It was horrible.
♪ ♪ You can only say "I'm so sorry" a million times.
- The first thing that hit my mind was, like, "Okay, now we need to tell the family.
"That's gonna be hard.
"It's gonna be hard telling-- everyone we brought here is gonna be hard."
It was like someone just burst the bubble.
- We called all the of youth together and brought them into my room.
They knew something was wrong, though.
[voice breaking] So I told them that it wasn't Little Plume.
♪ ♪ We all cried.
It was so disappointing.
You know, we went there to bring all three of our children home, and now we're only bringing two.
♪ ♪ - We were leaving the cemetery, and we had to walk by Hayes.
And I just felt so bad that we were leaving him.
I just felt like he should be coming with us.
I didn't know when, where, or how, but I knew we were gonna come back and get him 'cause we couldn't leave him there by himself.
♪ ♪ [dramatic music] ♪ ♪ - So when we returned from Carlisle, physically, we were just exhausted, all of us, you know.
And I think emotionally, we were really exhausted, too.
- It sort of felt like we had failed.
It still felt like that... something wasn't done right.
♪ ♪ - I think that this journey-- you can teach all you want in the classroom, but, you know, I think that they received the greatest teaching, and they understood that we need to move forward.
And that's what we need to do.
We need to revisit the past, and then we move forward.
We had two college kids that went back to college.
We had one that was graduating that year from high school.
[rhythmic drum beating] - You know, graduation night's graduation night.
You know, family's around, and you're enjoying it.
But it's that next day is where you want-- you know, what are you gonna do with your life?
What do you want to be?
- I want to come back to the reservation, and I want to teach tribal history or Native American history and tribal government because I feel like it makes a big difference on who you hear it from in, like, sort of the minds of the children.
Why am I getting taught by a white guy about what is supposed to be my history, my tribal government?
[percussion playing] - From '75 to the present, we see the development over time of tribally controlled schools, of the continuation of federal schooling through what's now called BIE, or Bureau of Indian Education, of public schools on reservations with locally elected school boards becoming infused with Native curriculum.
- We're going back to our traditional values and the concept of our core beliefs, which are ingrained in us, and it's in our very DNA.
We're trying to bring those forward by developing curriculum aligned with those values and those virtues.
- We still have boarding schools.
They're very different institutions today than they were 100 years ago.
And they're an important piece of this jigsaw puzzle of choices.
- Carlisle, they, you know, stripped them of language and culture, and, you know, they just became, you know, a number.
When I went to boarding school, how that was different... they let us use our language and they let us be who we were.
For me, boarding school was-- saved my life.
You know, living and growing up in the '70s on the Wind River Indian Reservation, you know, I started smoking when I was nine years old.
I started using alcohol thereafter and then marijuana.
And so when I left, I wanted to start new.
- So that young person might choose to go to Sherman Institute in Riverside, to go to a school that's primarily Native enrollment and that really privileges Native experience.
♪ ♪ Native education today is not about a return to some pristine, untouched... original, authentic Indian past.
It's about being Indian in the here and now and deciding what that means-- what core values, what core beliefs, how do we want to live as human beings in this world, looking towards our future and the future of our children and grandchildren and those who come after?
- I don't want my children growing up... "Hey, our great-great-grandpa's still over there in Carlisle."
I don't want them to grow up like that.
I want them to grow up to know that, "Hey, you know what?
I'm gonna get my PhD in civil engineering," or, "I'm gonna be a doctor," whatever they want to do.
♪ ♪ I didn't know we'd come back for Little Plume so quickly, but I had to be persistent and say that we need to make sure that this happens.
My dad was like, "You need to go.
"I'm not going, but you need to go, and you need to carry this on in a way."
"Finish it," he said.
It was being persistent about, "Hey, before you start with the other tribes, please finish the first job you started with us."
- When they started exhuming A-15 and the remains were revealed and started cleaning the remains and could see those areas of growth and development super clear, that was just a really good feeling to be able to tell the Fridays and be able to tell, you know, everybody who was there, "Yeah, this is Little Plume."
- The job is finally done.
We've got all our three children home.
- It is the first time, the very first time, that any of the Native nations have succeeded in taking ownership of this history and taking ownership of their students that they lost and taking them home again.
- When it's our ancestors, it's really important because it means that somebody's actually apologizing and being accountable and saying, "We're sorry.
"We're sorry this happened.
"You're just as important in this nation, in our history that we're willing to give it back to you."
- You know, and that "Kill the Indian, save the man" type of ideology is gone.
We love who we are.
We're proud of who we are.
[rhythmic music] ♪ ♪ [people chanting in Native language] - We're gonna do some ceremonies and let the Creator take care of that.
♪ ♪ - Each horse dedicated to each child will be riderless because we symbolically know that they're on each horse.
♪ ♪ - When a person leaves this earth, we paint him.
This way, with that paint on, the Creator recognizes them... takes them straight up.
♪ ♪ So what we're gonna do, we're gonna just put that paint in that casket.
♪ ♪ We put 'em back to Mother Earth.
Put 'em back, then they take their journey home.
♪ ♪ - We're finally sending them on to the great mystery.
That's what we believe in.
♪ ♪ [dramatic music] ♪ ♪ - Oh, that's such a good place, yeah.
- He's right at the edge of the cemetery, where he can see all around him.
I'm glad he's home.
♪ ♪ - When I go up there, I feel good.
Yeah, you know, they have a good rest there.
♪ ♪ [horse chuffs] ♪ ♪ - [whooping] ♪ ♪ - Yes, this is what happened.
We're still here.
[drum beating steadily] ♪ ♪ [melodic chanting in Native language] ♪ ♪ ♪♪