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Save the Date for our August 13, 2022 Recognition and Remembrance Day

posted April 14, 2022
Save the date photo with basic information about the event.

Please mark your calendars for our 32nd annual Recognition & Remembrance Day, which will be held on Saturday, August 13, 2022. We will have educational presentations, a research center for descendants, tours of the museum and Interpretive Center, craft booths, and more. The full schedule is coming soon.

We’ll have several booths available at no cost for Native persons wishing to sell craft items that day. Contact us at historicalgenoa@gmail.com to reserve your booth today. Space is limited.

If you would like to sponsor lunch (Indian tacos, $8.50) for one or more of our honored guests, please visit the donation section of our website. You can also mail any donations to us at the address listed there. Please be sure to note that your donation is specifically for honored guests’ lunches.

We are also seeking volunteers to help make this day a success. If you or someone you know would be able to volunteer your time to help with set up, tear down, kitchen work, greeting visitors, and the like, please contact us at historicalgenoa@gmail.com.

We hope to see you there!

Update on Fundraiser for Simon Redbird’s Headstone

posted February 14, 2022
Photo of Simon Redbird, seated in a rocking chair.
Photo courtesy of the Genoa Historical Museum.

Thanks to an outpouring of support, the Simon Redbird Headstone Fund has raised enough funds to purchase the stone.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to donate and to Mary McQuinn for allowing a donation jar to be held at Fill My Cup for the past several months.  The stone will be placed in time for the 2022 remembrance celebration.  A small ceremony will be held during that day. 

Thank you to those who donated and made this possible: Cornerstone Bank, Tran Tec LLC, Phil and Sandra Swantek, Pam Liebschwager, Barb Micek and the Nance County Journal, Marty Carlson, Genoa Community Bank, Shannon Patrick, Jacob Czarnick, Peggy Lang, Jaime Martinez, Kandis Bremer, Chad Rood, Margaret Jacobs, Joe Drozd, James Burns, Allison Holden, Ted Thieman, Courtney Ziska, Geraldine Beckmann, Alvin and Vicki Eastman, Pauline Wimberly, Kenneth and Susan Rood, Gene and Jan Hansen, Jerry and Nancy Carlson, Nickie Drozd, the many individuals whom donated at Fill My Cup, and anonymous donors.  Also, special thank you to Steve Marker and Columbus Monument Company for being so kind during this process.

Foundation Public Statement

posted November 23, 2021

As the nation’s eyes increasingly turn to the history of United States federal Indian boarding schools, the Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation shares the below information about its work shedding light on the history and long-term legacies of these institutions. Recent events have stimulated greater interest in the Genoa U.S. Indian Industrial School, but the desire for the history of the school to be told is as old as the school itself. 

In the years after the school closed, little was done to preserve the school buildings, grounds, and artifacts. The school’s official government records were scattered throughout federal repositories and other institutions far from Genoa and far from the families from the over 46 tribal nations who had children sent to the school. The federal government gave the school grounds to the state of Nebraska, which used it as a prison farm until 1944, and in 1949, the state gave the school to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which eventually razed many of the remaining structures and auctioned others to private citizens. In 1978, under Allen Atkins’ guidance, the Genoa Historical Society successfully lobbied for the Genoa U.S. Indian Industrial School to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Little remains of the school itself today, an erasure that robs us all of the chance to walk and connect with the physical space, but the absence of the school’s cemetery is particularly tragic.

According to Foundation recollections and records, efforts to locate the school’s cemetery began as early as 1987, when James Nash, a member of the Winnebago tribe and former student of the school, visited Genoa.  Unfortunately, nothing was found. From time to time, other former students returned to visit Genoa. Only a fraction of those who attended the school throughout its 50-year history did so, and it took time for those who returned to feel comfortable reliving and sharing their experiences of their time at the school. Some asked for annual reunions, opportunities to share their stories with others–even when they admitted that the act of sharing was painful for them. We soon realized that this was part of the healing process for them. Some only shared positive things about their experiences at the school. Some talked about hard times, but great lives afterward. Most had both positive and negative things to say about the school and their time there. They wanted their stories to be heard. 

Dale Wolfe and his family, for instance, felt a strong connection to the school and shared the following: Dale Wolfe, an Eastern Band Cherokee and Genoa student from 1928 to 1932, became an electrical engineer and retired from the space program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Dale’s life experiences at the Genoa Indian School were very positive and resulted in his gaining an appreciation for the value of obtaining an education. He obtained his Engineering degree at the University of Cincinnati and his Master’s degree at Xavier University in Cincinnati. His family has been very supportive of the Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation and established a college scholarship in their parents’ honor. The scholarship is awarded annually to a descendant of a former Genoa student in pursuit of their college education. 

Members of the local community volunteered to organize annual reunions, as well as ways to preserve what remained of the school, both physically and in memory. And so, in 1990, the Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation was formed. In 1999, Foundation volunteers raised funds to purchase and restore the former manual labor training building, which now houses the Genoa U.S. Indian School Interpretive Center and Museum. Some former students, when they found the Center a welcoming place, became comfortable enough to share their experiences. In acts of intensive generosity, some permitted the Foundation to record oral histories of their experiences at the school–interviews which, with permissions from the descendants and the help of our partner, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project and its board of community advisors, we hope to someday make available to a wider audience. 

Local volunteers also traveled to regional archives, using their own resources, in search of school records. They photocopied hundreds of pages of materials and donated them to the Foundation, enabling descendants as well as members of the public to more easily access at least some of the school’s remaining records. The Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project has taken up this work, using information Foundation volunteers provided about the location of school records and uncovering even more materials which the Foundation hopes to integrate–in hard copy form–to the existing research collection it offers descendants and researchers. We have also received many donations of items children made during their time at the school from people in Nebraska and beyond. The Center is now home to an ever-growing research collection, hosts many bus and school tours as well as virtual tours, presents free educational programs on a variety of topics, and still hosts an annual remembrance event each August which is attended by people near and far. Our connections, collaborations, and partnerships have expanded over time. The Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs is a longstanding and particularly valued partner, and the Commission is currently leading ongoing painstaking efforts to locate the cemetery in collaboration with the Nebraska State Archeology Office. The Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation volunteer researchers have also been working with the team of UNL researchers to find more information on the Genoa students.

The Foundation is continuing to work to make the Center a place of education, research, healing, and reckoning with the wrongs of the past. Members of many different Native communities have been very generous in lending us their time and patience, and we are grateful to them for these offerings. The full history and lasting historical, intergenerational legacy of U.S. federal Indian boarding schools are only beginning to be told. We hope that more people, seeing the value of this work, will support the Foundation in its mission of bringing this long marginalized history to light.

Some simple ways you can support this work include:

  • Learning more about the history of U.S. federal Indian boarding schools by visiting us during our open season (Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day), attending the annual remembrance event in August, supporting our educational programs and research, and/or donating to us to help fund staffing and supplies for this work as well as building maintenance projects.
  • Reviewing the materials the Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project has digitized and described as well as the very valuable materials on their resource page.
  • Learning more about the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition and their work.
  • Learning more about affairs and events taking place in Native communities today, by following the work of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs as well as local tribes on social media and/or by reading Native-owned and operated news sources such as Indianz

Members of the press seeking additional information about the ongoing search for the cemetery should contact Judi gaiashkibos with the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs at Judi.gaiashkibos@nebraska.gov. 

Members of the press seeking additional information about the history of the Foundation itself can contact us at historicalgenoa@gmail.com. Please remember that we are an all-volunteer organization. We are unable to respond immediately to all requests. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

2021 Genoa Indian School Recognition and Remembrance Day Will Take Place August 14, 2021

The Genoa Indian School Recognition and Remembrance Day will be on Saturday, August 14th, 2021 in Genoa, Nebraska at the Genoa Indian School Museum & Interpretive Center (209 East Webster), a National Historic Site, and at the St. Rose of Lima Community Center. This is the 31st year of this celebration. The general public is encouraged to attend all these free activities and learn about this Federal Boarding School (the only one in Nebraska and a National Historic Site), and about the Native Tribes’ students who attended it. To honor and celebrate the students that attended the Genoa School, the 46 Tribal Nations that had students attend have sent their Tribal Nation’s Flag and/or Tribal Seal. Great meaning and Tribal identity is associated with their flag and the gift of a flag is one of the highest honors a Tribal Nation can bestow. These beautiful and colorful flags and seals are on display in the Genoa Indian School Interpretive Center.  

All of the day’s scheduled activities, including presentations and guest speakers, will take place in the air-conditioned St. Rose of Lima Community Center, next door to the Indian School Museum & Interpretive Center. The research center, Native American craft tables, and tours of the Indian School Interpretive Center will be available from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

We encourage attendees to wear face masks to this public event, when indoors.

At the Foundation’s research center, researchers Linda Sass and Michelle Tiedje will be on hand to help descendants look up information on family members who attended the school, view photos, and review old school newspapers. There will also be Native American jewelry and crafts to purchase. All Native crafters are encouraged to bring items for sale. There is no charge for a table. (Call 402-993-6055 to reserve a table). Come view & buy their gorgeous items.

In addition to the above, scheduled activities for the day will include the following:

  • 10:30 to 11:00 is a presentation on Simon Redbird, a former teacher at the Genoa School, by Nickie Drozd.  
  • 11:00 to 11:15 is a memorial program honoring those associated with the school who have died in the last two years, by Nancy Carlson. 
  • 11:15 to 11:30 is a presentation of the Genoa U.S. Indian School/Wolfe Family Scholarship, given to the descendant of a former student. 
  •  11:30 to 12:45 – Native American Tacos and fry bread will be for sale. This delicious treat is made by Jan Ellston and served by Twin River FBLA. Ellston and her family are descendants of former students.  
  • 12:45 – Virtual tour of the former school barn.
  • We would also like everyone to know that, from 1-5:00, the Genoa Historical Museum in downtown is open, and features Pawnee and Mormon artifacts and photos.
  • 1:30 to 2:00 – Digital Project Specialists, Dr. Margaret Jacobs and Susana Geliga, with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will share information on the digitizing program for the Genoa Indian School. 
  • 2:00 to 3:00 – Screening of recorded interviews with Stanford Whitewater and Sidney Byrd, former students who spoke about their experiences at the school. Come hear their stories in their own words.
  • 3:00- All Native Americans will have the opportunity to share memories they know about the school and about their families who attended.   
  • An ice cream social will be the final event at 3:45 pm. This will conclude a day full of entertaining and educational experiences.
    • In addition, everyone is encouraged to pay their respects at the Pawnee Memorial in the east end of the Valley View Cemetery and at the Veteran’s Memorial in the Genoa City Park. 

The day’s activities are sponsored by the Genoa Indian School Foundation. We hope the day’s activities educate us and strengthen our ties to Native American cultural traditions. Please join us, and bring the family, for a free, educational, and entertaining day!

For more information, call 402-993-6036 or 402-993-6055.

Pawnee Scouts Memorial Highway Dedication Ceremony Held June 12, 2021.

The Pawnee Scouts were recruited to be scouts in the U.S. Army from the Pawnee Reservation Village just south of Genoa in 1864. They helped protect the Pawnee Village, protected the workers laying the Union Pacific Railroad tracks through Nebraska, and went on expeditions with the Army.

Group photo of people gathered beneath Pawnee Scouts Memorial Highway sign.
Pictured (from left to right): Andrea Tweety Bowen, James Kindig, Vicky LeadingFox (hidden), Adrian Spottedhorsechief, Pat Leadingfox, Todd Vetter, Matt Reed, Robert Adson, Tim Jim, Micah Jim, Herb Adson, Morgan LittleSun, Kim Adson and little boy is Cody LittleSun

The dedication ceremony for the Pawnee Scouts Memorial Highway sign by Genoa was on June 12, 2021. It was held by the Pawnee Reburial Memorial in the Genoa cemetery. The ceremony started with the Pawnee visiting the Nance County Veteran’s Memorial and Resource Center opened by Dennis McCoig and Jon Epley. Lunch was held in the Genoa Park and was attended by Head Chief of the Pawnee, Pat LeadingFox and his wife Vicky, Band chief Tim Jim and daughter Micah Jim, Tweety Bowen, Band Chief Morgan LittleSun and son Cody, Herb Adson, Cultural Resource Division of the Pawnee Nation, his wife Kim and son Robert Adson, Band chief Adrian Spottedhorsechief, Band Chief Matt Reed who is also the Historic Preservation Officer and his brother Todd Vetter.

The dedication ceremony started with a welcome to honored Pawnee, dignitaries, and everyone gathered. The Creator was thanked for blessing the day with such nice weather. A brief history of the project was given by Nancy Carlson. The project started a year ago when Nick Moser and Jerry Carlson read about the dedication of the Medal of Honor Highway. A Pawnee Scout was included in the 73 people who were honored. Nick and Jerry felt that all Pawnee Scouts should be honored, so they started the process. They asked the Pawnee Nation Business Council for permission, which was granted and encouraged. The section of Highway 22 from near Genoa to near Fullerton was selected because the Pawnee Scouts were recruited from the Reservation Village. This village was located where the dedication ceremony took place. The named section of Highway 22 ends north of Fullerton near a Pawnee sacred site, and many older Pawnee Villages were located along this section of highway. With the highway section defined, the Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation was asked to be the sponsoring organization. Resolutions of support were obtained from the Nance County Commissioners, the City of Genoa, the Nance County Veteran’s Memorial and Resource Center, and the Pawnee Nation. The application was submitted to the Nebraska State Highway Commission where it was approved, and Governor Ricketts signed it in January.

Head Chief Pat LeadingFox led a blessing in both Pawnee and English. Other speakers included James Kindig, District 4 Commissioner for the Nebraska State Department of Roads, Patricia LaBounty, Union Pacific Railroad Museum Director, Head Chief Pat LeadingFox, Cultural Resource Manager Herb Adson, Band Chief Tim Jim, Band Chief Morgan LittleSun, Band Chief Adrian Spottedhorsechief, and Band Chief Matt Reed, who is also the Historic Preservation Officer.

Herb, Kim, and Robert Adson, Pat LeadingFox and Adrian Spottedhorsechief sang songs and drummed, including a flag song, Warrior song, and a prayer song. Nick Moser played taps through the Genoa cemetery, closing the program. Visitors then viewed the displays from Jerry Carlson and John Drozd, while visiting with the Pawnee.

The event happened because of the work of many people. We want to thank our donors: Philip and Sandra Swantek and Jerry and Nancy Carlson, for purchasing the signs and for the following donors who made this day happen: Nance County Economic Development, Union Pacific Railroad, Helen Schweizer, Ralph Miller, Preferred Sands of Genoa, Nance County Veteran’s Museum, Genoa Community Bank and PointsWest Community Bank of Fullerton. We also want to thank the following sponsors for making this event possible: the Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation, the Pawnee Nation, the Nance County Supervisors, Genoa Historical Museum, the City of Genoa, Nance County Veteran’s Memorial and American Legion Post #144.

We would also like to give a big thank you to the behind-the-scenes workers: Alyce Tejral and Nicki Drozd (lunch), Mitch Tracy & Jeff Morris (filming), Cherri Thieman (photography), Brody Thieman (handing out programs), the Genoa Leader Times and Nance County Journal for publicizing the event, John Buhl (use of speaker system), Bruce Hoffman, John Drozd, Monte Swantek, Jerry Carlson and Nick Moser (set up and tear down), Marty Carlson (shade tent), and Nancy Carlson (moderator).

Foundation Receives Champion of History Award

Alyce Tejral accepts History Nebraska’s Champion of History Award from History Nebraska Director Trevor Jones, April 7, 2021.

Foundation honored with History Nebraska award

The Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation was honored to receive History Nebraska’s Champion of History Award. The award is given annually to recognize outstanding contributions by an individual or organization who help to preserve or interpret Nebraska History. Michelle Tiedje of Lincoln nominated the school.

The Foundation was recognized for its tireless efforts to ensure the school’s history and legacy is not lost. Because of the Foundation, more is known about the school. Without the Foundation, school buildings and remnants would likely not still exist, and hundreds of Native people would not have seen that some Nebraskans care about what took place at the school and the lasting impact it has had upon Nebraska’s Native communities.

The award was presented at History Nebraska’s Legislative Luncheon on April 7th.  Alyce Tejral received the award on behalf of the Foundation.

Michelle Tiedje with the Foundation's Champion of History award.
Michelle Tiedje with the Foundation’s Champion of History award.

Our location

209 East Webster Ave.
Genoa, Nebraska 68640

We are 1 block east on Willard from Highway 22, then 1 block north to East Webster Avenue.

Directions and Map

Contact us

  • historicalgenoa@gmail.com
  • (402) 993-6036 or (402) 993-6055
  • Visit us on Facebook
  • Our mailing address is: P.O. Box 382, Genoa, NE 68640

Please consider supporting our work by making a donation.

Donate now

The Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation is also a partner in the Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project. For more information, visit genoaindianschool.org.

Recent funding for the Foundation and museum was provided by Humanities Nebraska (HN) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 as well as by the Kindle Project Fund of the Common Counsel Foundation.

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