In honor of Native American Heritage Month, the University of Nevada, Reno’s John and Geraldine Lilley Museum of Art in the School of the Arts is presenting a traveling art exhibit called “We Remember Your Sacrifices; You are Not Forgotten: The Story and Art of the Stewart Indian School” from Nov. 9-30, 2023, with programming taking place throughout the week from Nov. 13-17, 2023.
The opening reception will take place on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 6 - 7:30 p.m., with remarks and light refreshments at the Lilley Museum on campus.
The exhibit tells the story of the Stewart Indian School, a federal government boarding school located south of Carson City, where Native American children of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, Western Shoshone, Northern Paiute and Southern Paiute were removed from their families and land to learn English and job skills. Eventually, Native children from over 200 tribal nations attended the school between 1890 and 1980.
Many Stewart School students studied art and expressed their creativity learning stone masonry found in the beautiful buildings on campus. The students were taught by Hopi stonemasons from Arizona, and their artistry is demonstrated in the buildings still existing on the 110-acre campus. In addition to stone masonry, students painted murals in some of the buildings and left behind much of their artwork in the form of paintings, wood carvings, baskets and beaded work.
The vision of the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum is to honor the children at Stewart, tell their stories through museum exhibits and first-person accounts on touch screens and help the living alumni, their families and tribal communities to heal. This exhibit invites visitors to come to Carson City and learn from stories shared by Stewart alumni of how the school evolved from the early boarding school days with the cruel assimilation policy into a high school that Native students wanted to attend.
The artwork continues today in the contemporary work by Great Basin Native Artists Collective, curated by Melissa Melero-Moose (Fallon Paiute/Modoc) and displayed at the museum’s Great Basin Native Artist Gallery.
In addition to the exhibition, there will be a film screening of a documentary called “Home of the Braves,” a film by JoAnne Peden, followed by a roundtable conversation with the Stewart Indian School on Friday, Nov. 17, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Assistant Director of The Multicultural Center Markie Wilder was instrumental in making this exhibit at The Lilley possible.
“This exhibit provides a platform for raising awareness about the historical injustices that Indigenous communities endured through the boarding school system,” Wilder said. “It's an opportunity to engage the entire campus community in a meaningful conversation about the impact of these policies on Indigenous people. By sharing the stories, art and experiences of those affected, it humanizes this history and fosters empathy and understanding among students, faculty and visitors.”
The exhibition and programming at the University are made possible through a partnership with the Great Basin Native Artists Collective, the Nevada Indian Commission, the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum, The Multicultural Center and the Office of Indigenous Relations at the University of Nevada, Reno.
The Lilley is located at 1664 N Virginia Street, Reno, and is open Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m. The Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum (SISCCM) is located at 1 Jacobsen Way, Carson City, Nevada, and is open Monday-Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed on state and federal holidays.
For more information about the Great Basin Native Artists Collective, visit Great Basin Native Artists.