Taking Back History
For our series Taking Back History, Reno Public Radio explores how the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony is reclaiming its roots, including local efforts to revitalize native languages, capture oral histories, and embrace other traditional art forms like carving ceremonial pipes and participating in powwows.
We also have the latest update on what's being done to preserve the site of the Stewart Indian School in Carson City. Early on, the school's mission was to assimilate Native American children by stripping them of their heritage. Students were forbidden from speaking their native languages or practicing other traditions like growing out their hair or participating in sacred ceremonies.
The long-term consequences of assimilation are still felt today. Very few members of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony are fluent in the Great Basin languages of Washoe, Shoshone, and Paiute because their parents and grandparents were too ashamed or afraid to teach them. Despite all that has been lost or silenced, the colony is making strides to capture and teach what it can for the benefit of the next generation, so they know where they come from.