Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum opens Monday

Students stand in front of the first building at Stewart Indian School circa 1890. The school was open for 90 years before it closed in 1980. Photo provided by Stewart Cultural Center & Museum
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Staff The Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum opens Monday, Jan. 13, giving the public a chance to see the government boarding school that operated from 1890 to 1980.

Stewart and other boarding schools initially were set up to forcefully educate Native American children in American cultural styles in the late 1800s. This assimilation policy impacted thousands of Native American students not only from the Great Basin tribal nations but over 200 tribes during the school’s 90-year history.

Stewart alumni say every student’s experience was different, ranging from traumatic to happy. Their stories are shared in the “Our Home, Our Relations” permanent exhibit.

“We want to honor and memorialize all the students who were impacted by this federally operated boarding school on the outskirts of our state’s capital,” said Stacey Montooth, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission. “The indigenous people of this land have always been storytellers, and at this unique place, the public will learn about this often overlooked, but vital history of the first people in Nevada.”

The Cultural Center & Museum occupies what was once the school’s administrative building. The Nevada Legislature in 2017 and 2019 provided more than $4.5 million in money. The center also had the support of Govs. Brian Sandoval and Steve Sisolak.

Admission is free. Stewart Indian School is at 5500 Snyder Ave. in Carson City. Winter hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free.

In addition to the permanent exhibition, the Cultural Center & Museum features the Wa-Pai-Shone Gallery, a temporary gallery space for contemporary Great Basin Native art; the Storytelling Room for storytelling and craft making; a research room where relatives can research their family members who attended Stewart; and classroom space for educational activities, lectures, and public programs.

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