Genoa, Nebraska Indian School

While transcribing the Native American draft registrants in Nebraska, I had noticed a few in Nance County.  It’s not the most common county to find Native people.  When I ran across John Red Wolf’s information, the Nance County designation made more sense.

John Red Wolf was born on March 4, 1899 and registered for the draft in Nance Co., Nebraska in 1918, while attending the Genoa Indian School located in Genoa, Nance Co., Nebraska.  His next of kin was listed as Sam Red Wolf in Kyle, SD.  This tells us that John is not likely Native to Nebraska.  His permanent address is also given as Kyle, SD.

This led to me to search for information about the Genoa Indian School, an institution I had never heard of.

The Indian Industrial School at Genoa, Nebraska was the fourth non-reservation boarding institution established by the Office of Indian Affairs. The facility was completed in 1884 and operated until 1934, a full half of a century. Now restored, it is owned and operated by a foundation as the Genoa U.S. Indian School Museum. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This photo is the shop building, now part of the museum.

The facility opened on February 20, 1884, and, like other such schools, its mission was to educate and teach Christianity and European-American culture to Native American children for assimilation. The village of Genoa was selected because the Federal Government already owned the former Pawnee Reservation property there; however, existing buildings at the site were unsuitable and in poor repair.  The Pawnee had been removed to Indian Territory in 1879.

The school expanded, eventually serving Native American children from ten states and over 20 tribes. In time the school grew from the original 74 students to an enrollment of 599. It encompassed more than 30 buildings on 640 acres. The US government closed the school in 1934 during the Great Depression.

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in Education, History, Schools. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Genoa, Nebraska Indian School

  1. patricia piper stone says:

    During my high school years in 1950’s the Indian School was a mysterious building or two at the East end of Main Street. I’m sure the town kids thoroughly investigated the area but I first set foot in there during an alumni gathering years later. The residents in Genoa had begun an on-sight museum of student photos, artifacts, and information about the school in one of the school buildings. It is a work in progress but is very interesting and informative right now for anyone interested in Native American and Nebraska history.

    • Patsy says:

      My misspelling of ‘on-site’ was due to my carelessness, not my education at Genoa High School, which was very good. Thank you, dedicated teachers. Patsy

  2. Kamala says:

    Possibly something to find some more details about the school, here is documentation for archives of a woman who was matron at the Genoa Indian School and was also an active abolitionist.(I wonder how she resolves what seems somewhat contradictory impulses today.) I have not seen the papers so don’t know how useful they would be. In a broader sense on Indian Education though I learned much from this book:

  3. Scott K. Hays-Strom says:

    I just ran across this blog writing a paper for a graduate class in Cultural Resource Management at New Mexico State University. I did my undergraduate work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and one of my specializations was Native American Studies. One of the classes covered the Indian Boarding School systems. We took a field trip to the Genoa School to talk with the museum curators and visit the facilities. In addition we went out to the old milk barn and began the process of photographing and copying the graffiti that the boys who worked in the hay loft so it could be placed in a database held at the museum.

    We got through about 100 of them, but ran out of light, and there were still hundreds more on the walls and ceilings and posts. It would be nice to see this project continued, and would like to figure out how to keep doing that myself. I really was impressed by the museum, the staff and the care they went to, to preserve the Native American Voice that was at that school.

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