Winnemucca, Nev. – During May 3-5, 2011, over 300 elementary students from Humboldt and Pershing County schools attended the 6th annual Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Lovelock Cave Days Event. The event was sponsored by the BLM Winnemucca District in partnership with the Nevada Outdoor School (NOS) as part of Nevada Archeology and Historic Preservation Month.
“The three days of education and awareness of public lands management is very rewarding,” said Peggy McGuckian, archeologist. “When we can interact with todays local youth and bring forth the information about Nevada’s archeology and history it is great!”
Throughout the state, fourth grade students study Nevada’s rich history. Lovelock Cave Days were created to give the students a glimpse of the colorful history that was made in their own backyard and to help instill in them a sense of respect and stewardship for cultural and natural resources on the public lands.
Lovelock Cave is a world famous archeological site used by Native Americans for over 4500 years. Thousands of artifacts which now reside in the Smithsonian Institution and other prestigious museums across the U.S. were recovered from the cave over the last century. The most famous of these are the Lovelock Cave duck decoys which date from 2000 years ago and are the oldest in the world. The decoys along with the other artifacts excavated from the cave provided invaluable information about the natural environment of the area and the history and life of the people who lived there.
Although the parched, hard ground surrounding the cave today offers no resemblance to the lushly vegetated lake that once existed, BLM and NOS employees gave various presentations to help students envision the lives of the Native Americans who once lived along the shores and who utilized the cave for storage.
Although visiting the cave was the focus of the field-trip, students were also taught about the archaeological significance of the artifacts removed from the cave, Native Americans’ respect for and use of wildlife and plants, flint knapping, geology of the cave, atlatls (spear throwers) and Paiute life in general. Students also learned about the California Trail, which passed through the Humboldt Sink below the cave, and toured the Marzen House Museum in Lovelock where they learned about early settler life and viewed artifacts from Lovelock Cave and vicinity. The students received Lovelock Cave Junior Ranger Badges for their successful completion of the day’s activities.