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Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival

A History of the Stewart Indian School, 1890?2020

Samantha M. Williams

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 05/2022
Pages: 342
Subject: Social Science
eBook ISBN: 9781496232007


Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival illustrates how settler colonialism propelled U.S. government programs designed to assimilate generations of Native children at the Stewart Indian School (1890–1980). The school opened in Carson City, Nevada, in 1890 and embraced its mission to destroy the connections between Native children and their lands, isolate them from their families, and divorce them from their cultures and traditions. Newly enrolled students were separated from their families, had their appearances altered, and were forced to speak only English. However, as Samantha M. Williams uncovers, numerous Indigenous students and their families subverted school rules, and tensions arose between federal officials and the local authorities charged with implementing boarding school policies. The first book on the history of the Stewart Indian School, Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival reveals the experiences of generations of Stewart School alumni and their families, often in their own words. Williams demonstrates how Indigenous experiences at the school changed over time and connects these changes with Native American activism and variations in federal policy. Williams's research uncovers numerous instances of abuse at Stewart, and Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival addresses both the trauma of the boarding school experience and the resilience of generations of students who persevered there under the most challenging of circumstances.


Samantha M. Williams is a writer and historian who focuses on the history of the Native American boarding school system. She earned a PhD in history from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and served as a research consultant for the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum.


"Samantha Williams's history of the Stewart Indian School is part of a new generation of research that brings laser focus to particular boarding schools and foregrounds their meaning to the students who attended them. . . . Williams also tells the significant story of Indigenous activists who fought to preserve Stewart's buildings as a museum so this painful history will not be erased."?Margaret Jacobs, author of A Generation Removed: The Fostering and Adoption of Indigenous Children in the Postwar World

"Samantha Williams has done an outstanding job of bringing to life the stories and experiences of the students who attended Stewart Indian School. This book is an important teaching tool to share the little-known history of U.S. boarding schools."?Bobbi Rahder, museum director of the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center &?Museum

"As we begin to more fully reckon with the history of the boarding schools and their legacy in the present, this outstanding book needs to be on everyone's reading list. Williams provides a superbly written and extensively researched examination of the Stewart Indian School that centers Indigenous children's experiences at the school throughout its nearly one-hundred-year history. The book, a sweeping and powerful study of a lesser-known boarding school, makes a significant contribution to the scholarship on Nevada Indigenous history and to broader conversations regarding how we grapple with the complex and challenging history of the boarding schools today."?Amy Lonetree, author of Decolonizing Museums: Representing Native America in National and Tribal Museums