Canton in Lincoln County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians
Receiving Congressional appropriations in 1899, the Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians was the second federal mental hospital and the first dedicated to American Indians. The first patient arrived in 1902, and through 1934, more than 370 patients—ages two to eighty, from fifty tribes nationwide—lived here. Patients did domestic and agricultural work onsite, were occasionally shown to paying visitors, and underwent treatment with methods later deemed outdated and dehumanizing. From 1929 to 1933, federal inspectors found intolerable conditions, inadequate staffing, several sane patients kept by force, and numerous other abuses. In 1933, John Collier, the newly-appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs, ordered the asylum closed. G.J. Moen, with the Canton Chamber of Commerce, filed an injunction to keep the asylum open, but it was overturned in federal court. Many patients were discharged and those who still needed care were sent to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington D.C. The major buildings used by the asylum have since been demolished. The Hiawatha Asylum cemetery, where at least 121 patients were buried in unmarked graves, is located between the 4th and 5th fairways of the Hiawatha Golf Club. In 1998, the cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Location. 43° 18.051′ N, 96° 33.061′ W. Marker is in Canton, South Dakota, in Lincoln County. Marker is on U.S. 18 one mile east of 482nd Ave, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Canton SD 57013, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 4 other markers are within 15 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Augustana – The School on Wheels (here, next to this marker); The Canton Ski Hill (a few steps from this marker); Canton (approx. 2.1 miles away); Tri-State Marker (approx. 14.7 miles away).
Categories. • Native Americans • Science & Medicine •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 5, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 3, 2018, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 44 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 3, 2018, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.