The Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project is digitizing and describing government records from various archives, which are often difficult to locate and to access. Returning these records to American Indian families and tribes is an act of archival reconciliation—bringing history home. We are also gathering oral histories, community narratives, and privately owned items to tell a more complete story of Genoa and other Indian boarding schools. The Project's American Indian Community Advisors are providing guidance to the project so that it represents the various perspectives and experiences of those who attended the school. The Project will enable American Indian communities and families to review materials, establish protocols for how materials are to be shared, and contribute their own digital content and knowledge to the documentary record.
The Genoa U.S. Indian Industrial School, one of the largest Indian boarding schools, enrolled thousands of children from over forty Indian nations during its fifty years of operation from 1884 to 1934. By 1900 nearly 21,000 Indian children, or about 78% of all Indian children who attended school, were living apart from their families at one of the 153 boarding schools the federal government ran. Memoirs by and oral histories of attendees reveal that boarding schools gave some Indian children new opportunities but also subjected many to abuse and exploitation. The Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project aims to explore the complex legacy of the schools.