7 episodes

Amidst an unprecedented federal investigation into hundreds of Native Boarding Schools and the 100,000+ children these institutions forcibly removed, one school has become the epicenter of controversy in America’s attempt to reckon with its dark history: Red Cloud Indian School. While today some see the school as a positive presence in the Pine Ridge Reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota tribe, others cite it as a perpetrator of generational trauma. While the US government is starting to admit its culpability in a church-facilitated campaign of genocide, the quest for justice is exposing tension throughout the Native community. In this new podcast from IllumiNative, series hosts Crystal Echo Hawk (Pawnee) and Lashay Wesley (Choctaw) hit the ground in Pine Ridge, South Dakota to chronicle the actively-developing situation for themselves, covering every twist and turn in this true crime story about the compounding intergenerational pain of Native American boarding schools and whether it’s possible for a community, Native peoples, and the United States to achieve truth, healing, and reconciliation.

AMERICAN GENOCIDE IllumiNative

    • True Crime
    • 4.7 • 188 Ratings

Amidst an unprecedented federal investigation into hundreds of Native Boarding Schools and the 100,000+ children these institutions forcibly removed, one school has become the epicenter of controversy in America’s attempt to reckon with its dark history: Red Cloud Indian School. While today some see the school as a positive presence in the Pine Ridge Reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota tribe, others cite it as a perpetrator of generational trauma. While the US government is starting to admit its culpability in a church-facilitated campaign of genocide, the quest for justice is exposing tension throughout the Native community. In this new podcast from IllumiNative, series hosts Crystal Echo Hawk (Pawnee) and Lashay Wesley (Choctaw) hit the ground in Pine Ridge, South Dakota to chronicle the actively-developing situation for themselves, covering every twist and turn in this true crime story about the compounding intergenerational pain of Native American boarding schools and whether it’s possible for a community, Native peoples, and the United States to achieve truth, healing, and reconciliation.

    1. Who Lies at Red Cloud

    1. Who Lies at Red Cloud

    Two Native American women, one a journalist and the other an activist, launch a deeply personal investigation into events around a former boarding school on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation. The seemingly progressive school faculty is looking to address their dark history by organizing a science-based search for possible mass graves on their campus. It seems well intentioned and even noble. But further conversations with boarding school abuse survivors, that seem to populate every single family in the community, cause our investigators to question if they have been meeting with the enemy.

    • 32 min
    2. Pissed Off Activists

    2. Pissed Off Activists

    Crystal and Lashay find themselves in a secluded park where the local youth group is plotting to disrupt the survey for graves with a noisy protest. They are guided by elder survivors who faced baseball bat attacks and being chained to radiators by the priests at the school. After a heart-wrenching conversation around abuse, inherited trauma, our investigators begin to see what’s really at stake. This is bigger than the search for mass graves, this is cosmic and spiritual and has the potential to fracture the Native community nationwide. On the heels of this realization, a secret additional burial site is introduced, where folks report encountering the restless spirits of former students.

    • 32 min
    3. The Medicine

    3. The Medicine

    Crystal and Lashay meet with progressive community leaders who are combating the Catholic church with the strongest weapon they have: their culture. They are locked in a battle of wills with Red Cloud school and what they see as systemic leeching off-of their people. For a better understanding of the fissure between Catholic and Lakota, the investigators travel with one of the leaders to his dining room table, where three generations of abuse survivors, male and female, describe their ordeals. The investigators are left wondering if they could even trust the findings that the school will hand down in the grave search.

    • 28 min
    4. The Scientist Detective

    4. The Scientist Detective

    Crystal and Lashay set out to clear any doubts they have around the integrity of the search of the school grounds. This leads them to the eccentric scientist who operates the ground penetrating radar. She’s Native American, determined, and despite her cutting-edge technology, swears her allegiance is ONLY to the “lost and stolen children” that she searches for under former boarding schools around the country. They also encounter the wisened elder who will perform a prayer over the grounds. He claims to have perfectly merged Lakota and Catholicism via quantum physics. It is an enlightening and unexpected journey into the deep spirituality that looms over the proceedings.

    • 28 min
    5. Confrontation

    5. Confrontation

    The air is heavy as Crystal and Lashay arrive at Red Cloud Indian School on the day the ground will be scanned for mass graves. All of the characters we have met along the way have descended on the campus with their own agendas. Some want answers, some want solidarity and some want conflict. It is an explosive situation that is exacerbated by the surprise arrival of high ranking government officials. After this episode, nothing will be the same.

    • 26 min
    6. Where We Stand

    6. Where We Stand

    One year after the former Native American boarding school began surveying its grounds for the bodies of former students, Crystal and Lashay examine the results, revisit the characters we met, and take a hard look at what steps have been taken toward truth and healing. It's an episode full of unexpected surprises that culminates in a bold call to action for Indian country and all of its allies.

    • 40 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
188 Ratings

188 Ratings

MollyCCollins ,

Heartbreaking and necessary

I loved this podcast. I am Omaha tribe descendant (my grandmother is enrolled and raised on her reservation) and I also had a great, great uncle who worked (and died in a flood) as a Catholic priest on the Pine Ridge reservation. My family was also sent to Genoa Indian School.

I had so many internal conflicts to listen, but also what I believe my ancestors pulling me to confirm the fears and listen. And I am so glad I did. If you are indigenous or a descendant and feel the turmoil around listening to theses painful truths, I feel you and send my support and blessings to you.

RodandCon ,

Thank you

This is hard information to hear and important to know about.

mwallenhorst ,

High hopes

While I applaud the effort to show modern native stories, I found this ultimately disappointing. Red Cloud and other schools should continue to look into their histories and investigate. The group wanting to close it down though seemed misguided and when no real scandal was found, I wondered what they were thinking. It seemed the producers grasped at straws with the promise that bodies would be found and painted a picture of “school bad, this group of young activists good”. I hope they continue to find stories to talk about but I also hope their stories are more fair and complete.

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