CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — Another disinterment project at the Carlisle Barracks is now complete. The goal is to bring closure to families whose children died more than 100 years ago while attending the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.
A team of archeologists and forensic anthropologists say the hardest part is doing such delicate work in a small space.
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“Our biggest goal is to get all the remains out without any damage and we do that every time,” Dr. Michael Trimble, archaeologist and site manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said.
Student record cards are used to determine the age of each child. Throughout the project, researchers found that one gravesite contained two separate remains.
“We were able to ascertain that it was a second individual based on my knowledge of the skeleton and what bones should be there and what bones should look like for people of different ages and so forth,” Dr. Elizabeth DiGangi, forensic anthropologist of Binghamton University, said.
In 1879, the Carlisle Barracks was the site of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. More than 10,000 Native Americans spent time there and at least 180 children were buried in the cemetery.
“The concept of the school was to take young Native American children and young adults out of their home environment and to bring them to an isolated location where they could be assimilated into the dominant white culture of that era,” Jim Gerencser, co-director of the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center, said.
Once the project was complete, the remains were given to family members for proper burial.
“This experience and being part of this it’s so much bigger than me, than any of us on the team,” DiGangi said. “It’s something that is for our nation and something we’re doing for the world.”
The Office of Army Cemeteries says about 164 children are still buried in the cemetery.