Light & Shadows of Chalandor Book of Shadows
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Title: A time for healing
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Autumn_Heather
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Registered: 11/21/2008

(Date Posted:02/09/2009 21:42 PM)
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A time for healing

"My lands are where my people lie buried."
- Crazy Horse, Oglala Sioux leader, 1877

When you are driving on Claremont Road in Carlisle, it's easy to miss the small, tidy cemetery along the side of the road. The long, slender limbs of a weeping-cherry tree in the nucleus of the plot reach down like fingers brushing along the arched tops of pristine, white tombstones surrounded by a short, iron fence. Row after neat row of graves dot the grass.

The Indian cemetery is one of few traces of the school left in Carlisle. More than 175 tombstones line the ground. Prayer cloths, strings of shells and beads and small bundles of sage and sweetgrass embrace the tree trunk.
The realization is harsh and unforgiving - there are children buried here. They died of the diseases that killed many children in those years, regardless of ethnicity. Climate change, separation anxiety and lack of immunity also contributed to the toll. Most were sent home for burial, but some had no relatives who could have made the arrangements, or their homes were simply too far away. Because of fear of infection, tuberculosis victims were buried immediately.

Most of the town of Carlisle's connection to the school revolves around its legendary football team and Jim Thorpe. In the All-American truck stop just outside of town, there's a wall covered with framed photographs and newspaper clippings of Thorpe. A memorial stone in the town's square pays tribute to him. Wardecker's, a men's clothing store on Hanover Street, which at one time extended a special line of credit to the Indian School's athletes, houses a shrine of photographs of Thorpe, Coach "Pop" Warner and the football team. Carlisle High School's mascot is a buffalo, and its nickname is the Thundering Herd.

But Native-American memories of the Carlisle Indian School run much deeper. Beverly Holland, who lives in Harrisburg, moved to Central Pennsylvania about 20 years ago from the Yankton Lakota reservation in South Dakota. Her grandfather attended Carlisle for nearly four years. But, like Ed Farnham, she didn't make the connection that she was living so close to the former school.

"I didn't run right to the school after I found out," she says. "It was a long time before I could visit the cemetery. I think I visited there about four or five times before I could stop crying."

It was equally moving for Farnham. "I had no idea what happened there," he says. "I was ignorant." But when he visited the grounds for the first time as a soldier, he acknowledges a complete reversal of attitude. "It was almost a spiritual event for me, once I understood that's where my grandmother walked for so many years," he says. "She was Christian. I know she would've gone to the chapel. The foundation of the chapel was about 200 yards from where we were housed. Kneeling on the ground [in the cemetery], looking at the graves, you just have ... more of a reverential attitude."
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