97-year-old Indian boarding school survivor still sharing his story

Students at the Genoa Indian Industrial School in Nebraska. Photo from Genoa Indian Industrial School Museum

Even at age 97, Sid Byrd, a member of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, doesn't appear to be slowing down and is still sharing his experiences from the boarding school era.

When he was just six years old, Byrd was sent to the Genoa Indian Industrial School in Nebraska and was frequently punished for speaking the Lakota language, as were other students. He once endured a severe beating that led to the departure of the superintendent, The Columbus Telegram reported.

“I'd been beaten so (badly) I could hardly lie down. I had to lie down on my stomach,” Byrd said at the 27th annual Genoa Indian Industrial School reunion on August 13, the paper reported.

Byrd stayed at Genoa until it was shut down in 1934. He was transferred to another boarding school in California and later joined the Army and served in World War II. He eventually became a minister and marched with the late civil rights legend Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Alabama, The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.

Byrd lives in South Dakota, where remains active in Indian community. He sang in the Dakota language at the inaugural Sioux Empire Wacipi in February, PowWows.Com reported.

Read More on the Story:
Former Indian school student remembers good, bad times (The Columbus Telegram 8/17)

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