Sioux Sanitarium

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Sioux Sanitarium
Construction Began 1898
Opened 1899, (boarding school) 1939, (sanitarium).
Closed 1933, (boarding school) mid 1960s, (sanitarium).
Current Status Active
Location Rapid City, South Dakota's West Side
Alternate Names
  • Rapid City Indian School
  • School of the Hills
  • Sioux San Hospital (current)
  • Sioux Sanitorium

The Sioux Sanitarium is a historical building that is now a public hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota.


Boarding School

Located in Rapid City, South Dakota's west side, it started out as a boarding school for Indians in the year 1898. The Native Americans from the Sioux, Cheyenne, Shoshone, Arapaho, Crow, and Flathead tribes were forced into the government institution. Abuse and neglect were prominent. Runaways were caught and brought back to the school and It has been reported that children died due to abuse or neglect. In 1933 it was closed.


The building remained empty for five years until the outbreak of Tuberculosis in the early 1900s. The building was then converted into a massive hospital called the Sioux Sanitarium for Native American TB patients in 1939. These years were the darkest in the institution's history. With no cure in sight, the doctors could only do experimental procedures such as removing organs to try and combat the disease. The patients were hardly outside. Many patients died. After the patenting of streptomycin, the hospital closed in the 1960s.

Present State

The building remained empty for several years until it was converted into a public hospital and named the Sioux San Hospital (derived from sanitarium). The hospital still has numerous, unmarked graves around the campus; not only from the TB patients, but also from the Indian children. It has currently been renovated into a public hospital. Recently, reports have got out that the city plans to demolish the old and run down buildings to make way for state of the art medical buildings. As the buildings are so historical, debate was sparked almost instantly.

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