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Native-led social justice organization Illuminative is launching a new podcast examining the horrific abuse and neglect of Native American children at Red Cloud Indian School, a former boarding school on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation, home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe.


In the six-episode series titled “American Genocide,” Illuminative founder Crystal Echo Hawk (Pawnee) and Lashay Wesley (Choctaw) hit the ground on Pine Ridge in search of justice for the Native children who were abused and died at Red Cloud.

Red Cloud stopped boarding students in 1980 and today operates as a private Catholic school with more than 600 students from Pine Ridge attending. There has been no acknowledgment of the horrors committed by the institution during the Boarding School Era, a period between the late 1860s and the 1960s during which hundreds of thousands of Native American children were ripped from their homes and placed in government and church-run boarding schools the U.S. in an attempt to strip them of their Native culture and identity. 

 “We had no idea where this would end up when we first started — all we knew was that this story had to be told – and what we uncovered is far bigger than any of us could have imagined,” Echo Hawk toldVariety. “The United States government and Catholic Church blatantly committed genocide, and no one really knows about it outside of the Native community.”

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“American Genocide” dives into the history of Red Cloud’s past and its perception today as a positive presence in the community. 

Episodes will give listeners an embedded perspective through interviews with school administrators, local elders and survivors, young activists, and U.S. Department of the Interior Deb Haaland while examining Red Cloud’s search for mass graves on its campus, growing tension between the school and community youth activists, and if the Catholic Church will close the school and return the land to the Oglala Sioux people. 

Listen to the trailer for ‘American Genocide’ at illuminative.org/americangenocidepodcast

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