Encore lecture tells plans for Stewart Indian School

CARSON CITY, Nevada – History enthusiasts who missed November’s sold out Frances Humphrey Lecture on the future of Stewart Indian School have a second chance this Saturday, Jan. 20, at the Nevada State Museum.

Sherry Rupert, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission, will give a brief history of the school and focus on future plans for the historic facility.

The event is Saturday, Jan. 20 at 10 a.m. in the museum’s South Gallery. The doors open at 8:30 a.m.

Stewart Indian School was established on the outskirts of Carson City in 1890 with a mission to assimilate American Indian children into mainstream culture.  It was one of the first 25 of hundreds of boarding schools across the nation.

The school was open for 90 years and saw more than 30,000 American Indian students educated in the stone buildings on the 110-acre campus. It closed in 1980 and many of the more than 60 buildings that remain have been boarded up.

But change is under way.

In its 2017 session, the Nevada Legislature approved Gov. Brian Sandoval’s request for $4.6 million in capital improvement funds to begin renovations of several of the school’s historic stone structures. In his State of the State Address before the start of the session, Sandoval called the school, “An important piece of Nevada that holds a special place in our state’s and nation’s history.”

Immediate plans include converting the former Administration Building into a Welcome and Cultural Center, which will include a museum dedicated to sharing the story of the school. Its historic gymnasium and theater are also scheduled for renovation.

Rupert, a University of Nevada, Reno graduate, is the first American Indian woman to be appointed a member of Sandoval’s cabinet. She is a past president of the Native American Chapter of the University of Nevada Alumni Association.

She is the chairwoman of Nevada’s Indian Territory, a volunteer marketing arm of the Nevada Division of Tourism, and was awarded the 2007 and 2008 Excellence in Tourism Award as well as the 2011 Statewide Excellence in Tourism Award from the Nevada Division of Tourism for her success in promoting and advancing tourism in Indian Country.

Rupert was also awarded the 2009 Human and Civil Rights Award from the Nevada State Education Association for her work in the advancement of Indian education in the state. She was elected president of the board of directors for the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association in January 2014, and has been named to the U.S. Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.

The cost of the lecture is $8 for adults; free for museum members and children 17 and younger. Seating is limited and reservations can be made by contacting Mary Covington at mcovingt@nevadaculture.org or 775-687-4810, ext. 224.

For details about the lecture, contact Bob Nylen, curator of history, at rnylen@nevadaculture.org or 775-687-4810, ext. 245.