Since 1990, Nancy Carlson and other non-Native residents of the small town of Genoa, Nebraska, have hosted annual reunions for attendees and family members of the Genoa Indian School.

Genoa was open from 1884 to 1934, one of the many Indian boarding schools that removed Native children from their families and subjected them to a strict assimilation program.

Carlson and other Genoa residents have been working with Native communities to preserve and learn from Genoa’s troubled history.

“They started saying, Mom and Dad never talked about their time here because it was like just something you did not talk about,” Carlson says on the Reconciliation Rising podcast. “But then they started telling their families about the school and what happened and what they did.”

“And we feel that this was the start of a healing process for those students and for their families to know,” says Carlson.

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Students at the former Genoa Indian School in Nebraska in 1910. Photo: Genoa Indian Industrial School Museum