For 90 years, the Stewart Indian School fulfilled a federal commitment to pursue Native American education in Nevada. Located three miles southeast of Carson City, the school grounds encompassed 240 acres. The school opened on Dec. 17, 1890, with 37 students from local Washoe, Paiute and Shoshone tribes and three teachers.
In 1888, the Nevada Legislature passed a bill that authorized the sale of bonds to purchase land for an Indian boarding school. Once purchased, the land was conveyed to the Bureau of Indian Affairs who established the boarding school to train and educate Indian children with the ultimate goal of assimilation. The campus opened with a capacity for 100 students and included a Victorian-style wood framed dormitory and school house. As enrollment increased, new buildings included shops for training, a hospital, and a recreation room. A Virginia and Truckee Railroad stop was established by 1906 to deliver supplies and facilitate transporting students to and from the school. By 1919, 400 students attended the school. During the next 16 years, students learning stone masonry from their teachers, including Hopi stone masons, constructed over 60 native stone buildings.
Today, the Stewart Indian School is listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places and the Stewart Indian Cultural Center is to be established in the former Administration Building. The Stewart Indian School Trail is a self-guided walking tour of the campus with 20 points of interest and audio stories. Using personal cell phones, visitors can access recorded messages from alumni and employees about their personal experiences at the school. The goal of the “Talking” Trail is to preserve the history and memorabilia of the school, which provided education and vocational skills to American Indian youth from Nevada, California, Arizona and New Mexico, representing more than 200 tribes.