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The Search For Lost Children at the Former Boarding School

According to Dave Williams, the state’s archeologist who is working there this week, interest in the hunt for a hidden cemetery close to the former Genoa Indian Industrial School in Nebraska has been rekindled in the wake of the discovery of hundreds of children’s remains at Native American boarding school sites in the US and Canada since 2021.

The dig had barely just begun by Monday afternoon, and no remains had yet been found.

What is the size of the cemetery and where is it located? The nearby Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation Museum’s board member Alyce Tejral said, “It’s the big question that’s hanging in the air.”

Genoa was a part of a network of over 400 Native American boarding schools that served the entire state and aimed to assimilate Indigenous people into white society by separating them from their families, preventing them from experiencing their culture, and assaulting them physically and mentally.

Honoring Native American Lives In A Hidden Cemetery

Judi Gaiashkibos, executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, has been working on the cemetery project for years. In the late 1920s, her mother visited there.

She said that it is difficult to spend time in the region where countless Native Americans suffered, but the vital quest can promote healing and give the kids’ voices a boost.

According to archeologist Williams, people who have endured a protracted period of not knowing exactly what happened to their relatives who were transferred to boarding schools and never returned may find some relief and solace in the discovery of the cemetery’s location and the burials discovered there.

The institution was established in 1884 and is situated 145 kilometers (90 miles) west of Omaha. 

Nearly 600 students from more than 40 different tribes across the country were housed there at one point. It closed in 1931 with the majority of the structures already gone and demolished.


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