Explore Nevada’s American Indian history
Two new travel itineraries focusing on the state’s Native American sites and history were released in July by Nevada Indian Territory, a nonprofit group promoting the state’s cultural tourism options. The 3-Night Northern Nevada Indian Territory Adventure and the 3-Night Southern Nevada Indian Territory Adventure are available for download from the TravelNevada website.
“It’s going to highlight features in Nevada that were missing,” Donna Cossette, a Fallon Paiute, said about the new itineraries.
Cossette serves as administrator for the Churchill County Museum in Fallon, one of the stops on northern itinerary. She worked with Nevada Indian Territory to incorporate the museum and other Fallon-area sites of cultural significance into travel guide. Many of those sites, such as the Bureau of Land Management-run Grimes Point Archaeological Area and Sand Mountain Recreational Area, may already be familiar to the general public. What is less known is the cultural significance of those sites, and Cossette said it is important to tell that part of the story.
“Sometimes the history, and the telling of it, isn’t pretty, and I think most people understand that,” Cossette said. “But we share the same history now as we continue on in the future.”
Following is a look at five stops on the Nevada Indian Territory itineraries that offer things to do and see outside of Reno:
- Stewart Indian School, 5366 Snyder Ave. in Carson City. The 109-acre facility, about 38 miles south of Reno, was the site of a federal boarding school for American Indian children from 1890 to 1980. The school’s complex history is told by former students via a self-guided audio tour accessible through personal cell phones. Visitors walk the trail, about a half-mile long, and stop at 20 different buildings, where they can listen to a recorded story told by a Stewart alum.
- Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitors Center, 709 State St. in Nixon, on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation. Explore the history of the Pyramid Lake Paiute at the museum, about 50 miles northeast of Reno on the southern end of Pyramid Lake. Along with cultural displays, the museum has exhibits on Pyramid Lake’s natural history and area wildlife, including the cui-ui fish and the world-famous Lahontan cutthroat trout. On your trip, take in views of the Pyramid Lake from Nevada state Route 445 — a national scenic byway along the southwestern side of the lake.
- Churchill County Museum & Archives, 1050 S. Maine St. in Fallon, and Grimes Point Archeological Area, about seven miles east of Fallon. Learn what life was like for the area’s early Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone inhabitants at the Churchill County museum, about 64 miles east of Reno. From here, it’s a seven-mile drive to Grimes Point, where visitors can view petroglyphs (ancient rock art) along a ¼-mile interpretive trail. Native Americans visited this area perhaps 8,000 years ago or more, according to the BLM, leaving the petroglyphs seen today.
- Spring Mountains National Recreation Area Visitors Center, 2525 Kyle Canyon Road in Mt. Charleston. If your travel plans put you in southern Nevada, make sure to check out the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area Visitors Center, which opened in May. About 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas, the visitors’ center has the Paiute Nation Seven Sacred Stones monument, which honors the seven nations of the region, as well as information on area hiking, flora and fauna.
- Lost City Museum in Overton, 721 S. Moapa Valley Blvd. in Overton. Another option for those in southern Nevada is the Lost City Museum, about 65 miles northeast of Las Vegas. This state museum houses artifacts of Ancestral Puebloans, an ancient culture centered in what is now the American southwest. The artifacts were rescued in the 1930s, when the installation of the Hoover Dam created Lake Mead, which threatened to submerge these treasures. Consider pairing your visit with a trip to nearby Valley of Fire State Park, known for its red sandstone formations and petroglyphs.