FAIRWAY, Kan. — Work to use radar to search the grounds of the Shawnee Indian Mission will not begin this fall as planned.
Kansas Geological Survey researcher and study leader Blair Schneider said the work is on hold indefinitely “to allow for dialogue with and within the Native American community.”
The Shawnee Tribe previously said it did not learn about the plan to study the site until it was nearly planned, and it wants to have a formal consulting role in a study.
“[The tribe] requested formal consultation to address serious concerns about the motives of this project, potential deficiencies in the process that may render incomplete findings, and what plans may be for utilizing any results from the project,” the Shawnee Tribe told FOX4 earlier this month.
The City of Fairway disputes the tribe’s claim.
According to a statement from the city, the Kansas Historical Society held an in-person meeting with Shawnee Tribe Chief Barnes in August. During the meeting, Barnes was provided a copy of the project scope, according to the city.
The statement also says the Kansas Historical Society offered the tribe the opportunity for a formal consultation before executing a contract.
It goes on to say the Shawnee Tribe is the only tribe to object to the project, while other Tribes have said the work should move forward.
Researchers involved in the study said “work will not begin until a contract for the work is signed by the [Kansas Historical Society] and will not proceed without input and agreement from the Shawnee Tribe.
The push to use that radar has been going on for years to learn more about what, if anything, is beneath the ground in the place where Native American children from multiple tribes were housed from 1839 until 1862.
At one point, nearly 200 Native American children lived at and attended school at the Mission, according to the Kansas Historical Society. Other historians believe it was more like child labor instead of school.
Last year, Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland announced the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. It is focused on investigating the Federal Indian Boarding School System, and any possible deaths tied to the schools.
While the Shawnee Indian Mission wasn’t part of the Federal Indian Boarding School System, the Historical Society says there is documentation that four children died while attending the school.
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