Genoa Nebraska

Pawnee Capital of Nebraska


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Genoa, named by the Mormon Pioneers, was among several temporary settlements established by the Church of the Latter Day Saints in 1857, along the 1,000-mile trail from Florence, Nebraska to Salt Lake City. These settlements were to serve as way stations for the Brigham Young Express and Carrying Company, which had the government mail contract to Salt Lake City, and as rest and supply stops for Saints traveling across the Plains.

Mormons from St. Louis, Florence, and Alton, Illinois were called to establish the Genoa settlement in the spring of 1857, and the Colony arrived here on May 16th. During the first year 100 families settled at Genoa and began to fence the land and plant crops under the direction of Brother Allen, Mission President. A steam powered mill was constructed and log frame and sod structures were erected to house the settlers and their livestock.

In the fall of 1859, the Mormon Colony was forced to abandon Genoa when the settlement became part of the newly created Pawnee Indian Reservation. Genoa served as the Pawnee Indian Agency until 1876, when the Pawnee were removed to the Indian Territory and the Reservation lands offered for sale.

Genoa was Pawnee Country, the last Nebraska home of an Indian Confederacy which once numbered more than 10,000, consisting of four tribes--Skidi, Grand, Republican, and Tapage. Their domain covered a large part of Central Nebraska where they lived in permanent earth-lodge villages and developed an elaborate religious and social organization. The Pawnee grew corn, made pottery and many flint tools and weapons. They depended on buffalo for their meat and hides, and each year carried on extended hunts along the Platte and Republician rivers where they conflicted with their enemies the Sioux and other Plains Indians.

In 1857 they ceded their remaining lands with the exception of what is now Nance County and established their villages at this site under their famous Chief, Petalesharo. Nearly always friendly to the Whites, the Pawnee furnished scouts commanded by Major Frank North, which were a colorful and effective fighting force in the Indian wars of 1864-1877.

Under continued harassment by nomadic tribes and demoralized by association with the Whites, the Pawnee dwindled in numbers and prestige. In 1873 they suffered major losses in battle with the Sioux at Massacre Canyon near present day Trenton. In 1874-1875 they left their ancestral Nebraska home for a reservation in Oklahoma.

Petalosharo

Chief Petalesharo

Genoa Historical Museum The Genoa Historical Museum was established in the 1970's when the old Genoa Bank was donated to the City of Genoa as a museum. Allen Atkins was instrumental in establishing the present day exhibits. Among the many exhibits are Allen Atkins' Pawnee Artifacts collection, George Umbarger's collection of Arrowheads and Pottery, Henry Hudson's diary (who was one of the founders of Genoa), numerous pictures and artifacts from the town's history.

The Museum is located at 402 Willard Avenue and open from Memorial Day to Labor Day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1-5pm. Visitors are welcome. Requested donations of $2.00 for adults and children $1.00. Tours are available throughout the year by appointment. Contact the City of Genoa offices at 402-993-2330.

The Indian Industrial School at Genoa was the fourth non-reservation boarding institution established by the Office of Indian Affairs. The facility opened on February 20, 1884, and, like other such schools, its mission was to educate and teach Christianity to Native American children. The village of Genoa was selected because the Federal Government already owned the former Pawnee Reservation property there, however, existing buildings at the site were unsuitable and in poor repair. Like many buildings designed for Indian school campuses, this was a simple three-story structure with a hipped roof and a small triangular pediment above the center entrance. The pairs of tall windows and strong horizontal lines across the front created a balanced composition. This was a popular design during the late 1880's.

The students that came to the Genoa Indian school were from ten states and over 20 tribes. In time the school grew from the original 74 students to an enrollment of 599, and encompassed over 30 buildings on 640 acres.

The Indian School building that remains is the Manual Training building. It was recently purchased from the City of Genoa by the Genoa US Indian School Foundation. Through the restoration efforts of the Foundation, the building has been restored with new windows, doors, heating and air conditioning and is now handicap accessible to the first floor.

The Manual Training building is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons from 1-5pm and is staffed by 'Docents'. Tours are available throughout the year by appointment. Contact Phil and Sandra Swantek at 402-993-6636 or Jerry and Nancy Carlson at 402-993-6055. Free will donations are appreciated.

Manual Training Building

The Mission of the Genoa US Indian School Foundation, a non-profit organization, is to collect and preserve the history of the Genoa US Indian Industrial School and promote the heritage of the school, which was in operation from 1884 through 1934.

For more information about becoming a member or to make a donation to the Foundation, send your inquiries to:

Genoa US Indian School Foundation, Inc.

PO Box 382

Genoa, NE. 68640-0382

 

 

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