More on Stewart Indian School’s history |

More on Stewart Indian School’s history

Terry Sullivan
Stewart Indian School students built the roughly 65 stone buildings on campus by hand.
Courtesy Nevada Indian Commission

The Stewart Indian School campus was acquired by the state of Nevada during the 1990s, and although there were no funds in any budget to care for the facility, the state made every effort to maintain it. Unfortunately, the school had been closed for some time before the state took control, and as a result many buildings were damaged due to lack of care. For instance, water pipes in many of the houses froze and broke causing floors to buckle and creating other damage as well.

The state had acquired 50 acres (not 240 mentioned in a previous article), which included most of the main buildings and housing. When Richard Bryan was elected governor he directed me, as director of general services, to do something about Stewart and coincidently about the same time there was a rumor the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was looking for a place to open a western fire training center.

We pursued that possibility, and FEMA accepted our offer to open its school at Stewart. Unfortunately, it backed out at the last minute but fortunately Congress had already appropriated about $2 million which we used to rehab several buildings. These were some of the newer buildings which are now used by many state agencies.

About the same time, we wrote a grant to the U.S. Economic Development Agency requesting funds to rehab the school building for the community college to teach computer aided design. They later moved the school to their campus but the building is still used by the state as a school for other purposes. That grant was for just under $1 million.

During that time period, the Inter-Tribal Council (ITC) sued the state to take back Stewart. The state was successful in District Court and then successful again in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. ITC then informed us through its attorney it would appeal to the Supreme Court. It seemed unlikely the state would lose there, but Governor Bryan instructed me to negotiate with ITC to see if we could come to an understanding with them because we didn’t want the whole 50 acres anyway.

As it turned out, the state returned all of the housing except five houses at the south end of the facility we allow some nonprofits to use that benefit both the state and the community. We also returned those buildings that had sentimental and historic value to ITC. These buildings included but not limited to buildings presently housing the Nevada Indian Commission, the original Administration Building and buildings that are now or will be rehabilitated with funds requested by Gov. Sandoval. I don’t remember the exact number of buildings the state kept in the agreement but I don’t believe it was 65 as has been mentioned in recent articles and by the Nevada Indian Commission.

Stewart is a beautiful facility, a great asset for the state and the cooperation between the state and ITC in coming up with a final agreement was beneficial to both the state and ITC.

Terry Sullivan of Washoe Valley served as Director of General Services from 1983 to 1993.