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The Friends of Hiawatha Foundation represents and maintains the history of the Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians, at one time located in the tiny town of Canton, South Dakota.
For those unfamiliar with the asylum, Hiawatha was the only government run hospital built solely to house Indians under the guise of mental illness. In reality it was an experiment in eugenics. In its thirty-two year history over 374 documented Indians from 50 recognized tribes were brought to the asylum to await death.
Closed in 1934, all that remains of Hiawatha today is its cemetery, which sits in the middle of the fourth and fifth fairways of the Hiawatha Country Club golf course. The Canton/Inwood hospital now sits where the asylum once stood. There is no evidence, other than the cemtery, that Hiawatha even existed here.
There are two markers here, neither one of them having to do with the asylum. Evidently the City of Canton deems a "ski hill" more important than the lives they helped hold prisoner:
We at the Friends of Hiawatha Foundation are hard at work trying to alleviate that. In accordance with the plans of the late Harold Ironshield, the man who first brought the asylum to public attention and who fought hard to have the site placed on the National Register of Historic Places, we have been raising money to purchase a historical marker for this location. We've had it approved by the state historical society and have managed to raise $445.80 of a $2300.00 goal. This leaves $1854.20 to raise.
2009 marks the 75th Anniversary of Hiawatha's closing by the government. To this date there has never been any sort of marker to commemorate the victims of this tragedy. This piece of history has been swept far beneath the rug and left there, the City of Canton hoping that people would forget and leave well enough alone. Please help us change that.
Please help us reach our goal by donating towards the historical marker:
To learn more about the history of the asylum, please visit us at www.hiawathadiary.com
Mia have you guys thought about something like T-shirts or prints/posters? R could design it and then maybe Ebay (or something) the original piece of artwork? I know it's early for me and I'm thinking out loud lol.
That's actually a good idea TH - we've recently stumbled across some stuff that might make for good t's, I'll definitely bring it up to R!!
Just bumping for future visitors. The marker has been finished and put in place in memory of Robert Fisher. I'm working on compiling some links for those that come here through searching for information on the Asylum.