Nevada Governor Apologizes for State's Role in Indigenous SchoolsBreaking News
tags: racism, Native American history, Indian Residential Schools
When it was time for Winona James to return to school, her family hid her in brush near their home in the Carson Valley to prevent officials from the Stewart Indian School from finding her.
James, a member of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, was among the more than 20,000 students who were sent to the boarding school as part of a federal program designed to forcibly assimilate Native Americans into dominant Euro-American culture. She attended for one year, but her family feared for her life.
"I can remember that my grandmother didn't want me to come back to Stewart because she thought I would never, ever go back home again," she said in interview for a University of Nevada, Reno history initiative in 1984.
The Stewart School in Carson City is among more than 350 residential schools that the U.S. Interior Department plans to examine as part of the Federal Boarding School Initiative Review, which includes an investigation into student deaths and known and possible burial sites.
On Friday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak heard stories from tribal elders about the school's history. The governor, tribal leaders, state agency heads and Interior officials discussed ways the state — which funded the school's construction and helped gather children to send there — can contribute to the federal efforts to confront historic injustices and intergenerational trauma and honor the children who died at boarding schools.
Descendants of Paiute, Washoe and Shoshone people who attended the Stewart School during the 90 years it was in operation told stories of bounties being offered to bring Native children to the school; of students attempting to run away due to starvation; and of extreme overcrowding in dormitories.
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