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Canton, South Dakota: Asylum for Indians Marker and Grave

America's only asylum for Native Americans judged mentally unfit operated from 1903 until it was shut down 30 years later. Turned out many of the inmates weren't insane. No records were kept as to what killed the 121 residents buried in its little cemetery, which is now surrounded by a golf course.

Hiawatha Golf Club

2400 E. 5th St., Canton, SD
The "Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians" historical marker is on the south side of US Hwy 18, a little over a mile west of the small bridge that marks the Iowa-South Dakota state line. The cemetery is on the north side of US Hwy 18, between the 4th and 5th fairways of the Hiawatha Golf Club. Park at the club and ask permission to walk to the cemetery, which is surrounded by a small fence.
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Asylum for Insane Indians monument.

"Asylum for Insane Indians" Marker, Cemetery

Permission and directions are easily acquired at the clubhouse. You will have to cross a drainage ditch and two active fairways. Please be considerate of golfers. Cemetery is behind the rustic wooden fence you can see from the dirt road mile east of the clubhouse.

[Jeff Wagg, 07/31/2021]

List of Indians Buried.

Graveyard of Insane Indians

If you're heading west on I-90 and just looking for things to check off your list, be aware that it's a lot farther from 90 then it looks on a map. When you get there take the dirt road on the east side of the golf course, park near the end and you can see the fence from there. You have to brave the ditch weeds, which are mildly annoying if you are wearing shorts. Walk straight west from the ditch and you can't miss it.

We went at sunset after most golfers had gone. We wished we had something to leave to pay respects. We noticed a lot of sea shells and one candle and a few hand made crosses. There was a sort of hidden gravestone to the north east side of the cemetery, keep your eyes down and you'll see it.

[Laura Moe, 06/16/2015]

Nearby Offbeat Places

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In the region:
Elephant Bones and Dirt Collection, Sheldon, IA - 36 mi.

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