A photo of Diné (Navajo) girls on the front porch of hospital/girls' dormitory at the Theodore Roosevelt School, taken sometime between 1928-29.

A photo of Diné (Navajo) girls on the front porch of hospital/girls' dormitory at the Theodore Roosevelt School, taken sometime between 1928-29.

Three Sites Important to Native History Named National Landmarks

Three sites significant to American Indians made it on the most recent round of National Historic Landmarks announced March 6 by U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The sites include the Theodore Roosevelt School in Fort Apache, Arizona, Deer Medicine Rocks in Rosebud County, Montana and the akima Pinšiwa Awiiki in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The school represents what FronterasDesk.org called a “shady chapter of American history between the U.S. government and Indian tribes.” According to a DOI press release, the school is one of 14 former Army forts that developed into a school as part of the government’s push to assimilate Native Americans.

John Welch, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University in Canada, told FronterasDesk.org that he hopes the designation will shed light on who the White Mountain Apache people are.

“It’s not a celebration of this history,’ Welch, the former historic preservation officer for the White Mountain Apache Tribe, told FronterasDesk.org. “It’s an opportunity to add chapters to that history and to make sure the full spectrum of stories are told.”

According to the Associated Press, between 1871 and 1923—the year it became a school—Fort Apache was home to the Buffalo Soldiers from four units.

The school is now a Bureau of Indian Education-funded boarding school serving White Mountain Apache students in sixth to eighth grade.

Deer Medicine Rocks also made the historic landmark list. According to the DOI press release, it’s a sandstone rock formation that is associated with the Great Sioux War of 1876-1877, a war that culminated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The site has a number of Native petroglyphs including a representation of that famous battle.

“Sioux and Cheyenne Indians state that this is where Sitting Bull pledged 100 pieces of his own flesh during the 1876 Sun Dance, about three weeks before the famous Battle of the Little Bighorn,” says Scott Burgan on his flickr page. “In his trance, Sitting Bull saw soldiers falling from the sky like grasshoppers.”

Deer Medicine Rocks in Montana (photo courtesy Scott Burgan/flickr)

The third Native site listed as a National Historic Landmark is the akima Pinšiwa Awiiki, which DOI called “a rare surviving example of a treaty house in the U.S.” It was built as part of the terms of the 1826 treaty between the Myaamia and the United States and was associated with Pinšiwa, the akima—civil chief—of the Myaamia. According to a report by the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, the home was built in 1827 and Pinšiwa lived there until his death in 1841.

The Akima Pinsiwa Awiiki treaty house in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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