Stewart Indian School History

The Stewart Indian School is listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places
Stewart Indian School Band

Assimilation is Genocide

  • US government’s assimilation policy set up 408 boarding schools for American Indian children to provide vocational training and English classes.
  • Stewart Indian School only boarding school in Nevada
  • Part of treaty rights but justified dividing up Native land through allotment and was intended to destroy Native culture
  • Cruel policy gave school officials authority to kidnap children from their families and bring them to boarding schools like Stewart
  • Federal policies governing the boarding schools underwent many changes over time.
  • Thousands of children, families, and Native communities were affected by this policy which meets the United Nation’s definition of genocide.
    • 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention)
      • Killing members of a group;
      • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
      • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
      • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
      • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Stewart Indian School Band
Stewart Indian School, Administration Building

Stewart Indian School Changes Over Time  (click here for timeline of Stewart Indian School from 1890-1980.)

  • Stewart Indian School was operated by the federal government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1890-1980.
  • Initially created in 1890 to educate children from Nevada’s Great Basin tribes—Washoes, Paiutes, and Shoshones
  • School quickly grew to 200-400 students
  • Eventually over 200 tribes from western states were represented at Stewart
  • Originally taught English and vocational classes; eventually evolved to upper grade levels and a high school from 1935-1980
  • Original buildings were white frame and replaced by stone buildings between 1919-1950
  • Frederick Snyder, superintendent in 1919, improved the grounds with rose trellises and trees. He brought up Hopi stonemasons from Arizona to teach the students to become stonemasons.
  • They built 65 stone buildings still standing on the campus, as well as Thunderbird Lodge at Lake Tahoe, and other stone buildings in the area.


Stewart Indian School Band
Stewart Indian School, Administration Building

Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum

  • First stone building built by students and Hopi stonemasons was Stewart administrative building, built in 1923, now location of new museum
  • In 2017 and 2019 State of Nevada created the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum, with two permanent staff positions, newly renovated buildings, and an operating budget.
  • Blessing of Cultural Center July 11, 2018
  • Museum building and former post office (built in 1925) renovated for $4.5 million
  • Architects and contractors worked with State Historic Preservation Office to preserve historical features of both buildings
  • Stewart Alumni and their Families First Look at the new museum: Monday, December 16
  • Soft opening for community partners and Nevada tribes: Tuesday, December 17
  • Museum officially opened January 2020
  • Over 6,000 people have visited the museum.
  • Museum is overseen by Stewart Cultural Advisory Committee, made up of Stewart alumni and family members, advising on all aspects of creating and designing the new museum. This is their school, their museum, their stories.
  • Melissa Melero-Moose and Ben Aleck, Great Basin Native Artists Collective, helped design new museum; curate new contemporary exhibits.
  • Grand opening and ribbon cutting June 18, 2022


To download the Stewart Indian School Oral History Booklet CLICK HERE

To download the Stewart Indian School graduate list CLICK HERE

To view our historic photo and video library CLICK HERE

Stewart Indian School Historic Photo


We invite the public to learn about the beautiful rocks that were used to build over 60 buildings at the Stewart Indian School campus. Former state geologist Jonathan Price and Dennis Bryan created a scavenger hunt to learn about the rocks used in the Stewart buildings. To download a copy of the scavenger hunt, please CLICK HERE.



Stewart Indian School Photography Gallery