FAIRWAY, Kan. — A plan to learn more about what happened at the Shawnee Indian Mission in Fairway, Kansas is getting criticized and appears to be on hold for now.

The Shawnee Tribe says it wants to have a formal consulting role in a study that would use ground-penetrating radar at the site.

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 from multiple tribes children were housed from 1839 until 1862.

The residential schools existed all across America in the 1800s as part of the federal government’s attempts to assimilate indigenous peoples, often cutting off ties to their cultural history.

Graveyards have been found at similar sites around the United States where native students were buried before their families knew what happened to them.

Experts don’t think there are those kinds of graveyards on the Shawnee Indian Mission site but the ground penetrating radar would help learn more about what could be there.

An email last week told residents that the survey is moving forward and the City of Fairway said the Shawnee tribe was told about the plan in August.

Today, the tribe tells FOX4 they, “have 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.”

Letters between tribal representatives and state officials suggest the Shawnee Tribe only found out about the project once it was largely planned out. One document says it was supposed to begin in August, with data collection happening for 30 days, with six months to study the data afterwards.

Kansas University has researchers involved in the study and they tell FOX4, “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.

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