Back in the 1860s and 70s, in the American West, the phrase, “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” was not a hollow sentiment. Fortunately there were some within the U.S. Army and government agencies who refused to accept the annihilation of the American Indians as a viable option. They proposed “civilizing” the Indians and developed Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding schools. Based on the military model, complete with uniforms, drills and parades, the Indians were taught essential skills to make in white mans’ world, such as saddle and harness making, tailoring, blacksmithing, and farming. The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ attempts to “socialize” the natives included shearing the student’s hair, forbidding native dress, native language, and religion. One of the most painful aspects was the boarding Schools’ remoteness, far from families and tribal lands. Six years before the massacre at Wounded Knee in South Dakota, the Genoa, Nebraska US Industrial Indian School, opened in 1884 and operated continuously until the midst of the Great Depression. Today, original buildings loaded with vintage artifacts, interpretive displays and photographs along with original barns offer the visitor the chance to discover a taste of daily life at Genoa Indian boarding school back in the day. Come along and join Correspondent, Tom Wilmer for a visit with Nancy Carlson, Curator at the US Indian School Interpretive Center in Genoa, Nebraska.
Click here to Listen to the Genoa Indian School intrerview on NPR.ORG Podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer
Nebraska. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer