FAIRWAY, Kan. (WDAF) — The Kansas Historical Society plans to take a deep dive to learn more about the past at the Shawnee Indian Mission in Fairway.
Experts plan to use ground-penetrating radar at the site in the coming weeks.
The City of Fairway manages the day-to-day operations at the historic site adjacent to Bishop Miege High School.
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.
Last year, the Shawnee tribe chief Ben Barnes told FOX4 that he believes there could be children buried on the site.
The radar will be used to determine if there are any unmarked graves on the property.
“We know that children died here,” Barnes told FOX4 on Oct. 6, 2021. “We don’t know how many, and we don’t know where.”
The Historical Society, Shawnee Indian Mission Foundation, and the City of Fairway say don’t anticipate finding any because there are several tribal cemeteries near the Mission where any students would have likely been buried.
The three groups say they do believe there is more than can be learned by studying the Shawnee Indian Mission State Historic Site.
The Ground Penetrating Radar study is expected to begin this fall.