Local Donors Help Keep Doors Open at Stewart Indian School Museum

The doors at the Stewart Indian School Museum and Cultural Center in Carson City are open again. They had to close just two months after opening due to the pandemic.

"If you don't know the history of Indian boarding schools in this country, I don't think your history of our nation is complete," said Stacey Montooth, Executive Director of the Nevada Indian Commission.

That history is preserved on the old campus, and the new museum. Carson City resident Jan Leonard knows it well.

"My grandfather started working here in 1935 as the boys advisor and stayed until the early 50's, so my father was raised out here," she said. "I've heard a ton of stories. My dad has a lot of great memories and he made a lot of friends with other kids raised out here as well."

She's donated some old carvings from Stewart art students, and her financial gift is helping to keep the doors open here.

"My aunt had passed away about a year ago and she left some money to donate, how i saw fit, to nonprofits," Leonard said. "And so of course I've always had a connection to Stewart and I thought, why not give them some money, so that's what i did. I think it's wonderful because it was kind of stagnant for awhile, so it's exciting to see the changes here, and all the beautiful things they've done."

Carson resident Sandy Miller didn't know about Stewart until recently.

"I didn't know about the Stewart Indian School until I moved close by a couple of years ago," she said. "Then I read about the history on the state historical marker near Snyder Avenue and I just fell in love with the beautiful stone buildings and the park-like atmosphere; it's just a beautiful place."

She's made several contributions, hoping more people can discover this piece of local history.

"The history of the Native American boarding school should remain alive for future generations to experience and learn from, and that's really the reason why we contributed," Miller said. "Also, we know the museum cannot function without the public's help in funding it."

Hundreds have toured the museum in the months its been open.

"It's been tremendous, I've been really overwhelmed," Montooth said. "There are people who leave here energized. They want to change policy, they want to go out and tell the world about the injustices to the native people. There are people who leave in tears; then, we also have a lot of pride."

It's one of the lesser-known historical sites in the capital city.

"It amazes me, even residents don't know about the South end of Carson City," said David Peterson, Executive Director of Visit Carson City. "And here we are, a couple miles from the capital, and we have this amazing cultural center and museum here. It makes for a wonderfully diverse visit."

The museum is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The self-guided tour of the grounds is always open.

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