Known Death Toll for Genoa Indian School Nears 100

Nov. 11, 2021, 4:05 p.m. ·

Students preparing for baking
Students preparing for baking. (Photo courtesy Genoa Historical Museum and Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation)

The death toll of Native Americans at the Genoa Indian School now sits at around 100.

Researcher Nicole Drozd with the Genoa Reconciliation Project uncovered documents this week that detail 43 deaths between 1884 and 1894 — the first decade the institution was in operation. In our report published November 4, researchers said the known death toll was at 59.

A plaque outside of the school said there were 19 recorded deaths at the facility, which sprawled across 640 acres in central Nebraska a century ago.

Between the Civil War and the mid-1930s, thousands of Native American children were sent to the Genoa Indian School. Located about 20 miles west of Columbus, it was one of a nationwide network of boarding schools designed to separate Native children from their families and culture, and assimilate them into the mainstream.

Professor Margaret Jacobs, Co-Director of the Genoa Indian School Reconciliation Project. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Jacobs)

"We have only found the names of two of those students, so now our count is up to 100 students. Sadly, the reports that we have for those 43 students who died in the first ten years of the school don't identify any names," Genoa Reconciliation Project Co-Director Margaret Jacobs said.

In addition to the numbers, researchers are also digging deeper into some of the causes of deaths listed, such as heart failure and shootings.

Directors of the Genoa Reconciliation Project will provide the latest updates on the Genoa research at a panel discussion Thursday at the Center for Great Plains. You can watch the event online here.

This is a developing story. Check later for updates.