New Stewart Indian School Museum Reflects On Dark History, Brings Hope For Native Communities

Jan 30, 2020

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Every time Linda Eben Jones looks at a yardstick, she remembers the teacher who would strike her each morning, leaving red welts on the back of her legs.

The new Stewart Indian School Museum aims to illuminate this and other stories from the boarding school that operated in Carson City for 90 years. The permanent exhibit, “Our Home, Our Relations,” illustrates a history that includes opportunity and community, but also experiences of trauma and loneliness.

“The alumni told us to tell the truth,” said museum director Bobbi Rahder. “So we’re telling the truth.”

Rahder and the museum curator collected Stewart documents from other museums’ repositories and traveled to tribal communities throughout the state to meet with alumni and hear their stories. She said they spoke to at least 100 people.

The school housed children from more than 200 tribes, some beyond Nevada’s borders, with students from Native communities in California, Arizona, Utah, Washington and Oregon. The first class at Stewart had 37 students in 1890 and by 1919, there were more than 400.

“We consider this their school, their museum, their exhibit and their stories,” Rahder said.

The total number of students who attended Stewart over the years is difficult to confirm because many documents were lost once the school closed in 1980, although it is estimated to be in the tens of thousands.

Visit The Nevada Independent for the complete story.