Pyramid Lake Museum & Visitors Center celebrates 20 years in Nixon |

Pyramid Lake Museum & Visitors Center celebrates 20 years in Nixon

Special to First Nation’s Focus
From left, Loni Romo, Emileigh Mason and Michaela King were among many in attendance on Sept. 9.
Courtesy Jackie Cawelti

NIXON, Nev. — The Pyramid Lake Museum & Visitors Center first opened to the public on August 26, 1998.

On Sept. 9, 2018, the museum on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe reservation in Nixon, Nevada, held a 20th anniversary celebration in commemoration of 20 years of serving the reservation communities and visitors.

A full program was held on a beautiful day, also designated as “Grandparents Day.” The Numu Tukwasu (Paiute Black Shirts) opened the celebration and posted the flags of the United States, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and State of Nevada.

The Tribal Chairman, Vinton Hawley, gave the welcoming address to the audience and recalled the history behind the name of the museum. Charlotte Harry, beloved tribal elder, offered the blessing in our Numu language and set the tone for paying tribute to our ancestors.

Billie Jean Guerrero, Museum Director, spoke about “Honoring Our Vision” and that we all remember the sacrifices of our ancestors that allow us to be here today, the resilience of our ancestors to survive this harsh environment, and that our beautiful Pyramid Lake is a very spiritual place with healing power.

We still need to fight for our water and pray for the lake. We also need to remember how plentiful the Kooyooe (Cui-Ui) and Agai (Trout) used to be and how they are making a comeback through the work of the Pyramid Lake Fisheries; to remember the Pyramid Lake Wars of 1860 and how the Numu defeated those who wanted to kill off the Indians; and to remember the survival skills used for hunting and gathering, and the use of medicine plants to cure illnesses.

The museum teaches visitors to appreciate, respect and understand our Numu culture with informational displays, oral presentations, digital stories, video room, virtual reality programs, books in the Gift Shop, cultural classes, events and programs.

Future goals for the museum are to develop more programs, professional displays, tribal history documentary, nature trail, art park, improve the building and grounds, and increase the pride of the Kooyooe Tukadu.

Other speakers included Ben Aleck and Ralph Burns, long-time former employees at the museum, who spoke of the history of the museum and their work experiences.

Mervin Wright, Jr., former Tribal Chairman, spoke about the intense clean-up efforts before the museum was renovated.

John Martin, Bison Construction Contractor, spoke about the completion of the building structure and the difficulty in quarrying the rock, the steep walls and roof.

The museum is a “showcase” project because of the unique architecture designed by Dennis Numkena, an award-winning Hopi architect. All speakers expressed their pride and respective roles at the museum.

The most impressive part of the program included the Eagle Wing Dance Group and the Pyramid Lake High School Dance Group performing traditional Numu songs and dances.

The large group of singers and dancers enlightened the audience with pride and joy. It was a fantastic sight to see the youth perform the dances of long ago. The cultural traditions are the highlight at the Pyramid Lake Museum and a memorable day to celebrate our heritage.

A fashion show was held after the dances with traditional and contemporary dress. The audience was able to see models of all ages and sizes, but the common factor was the native pride in each and every one of those modeling.

The day ended with refreshments and special designed cakes made by a local tribal member, Betsy Thomas. The museum had door prize drawings for wonderful museum gifts and lots of winners.

A day to remember – Ki Nasoomoowakwatu – Never To Be Forgotten. O

This article was provided to First Nation’s Focus by Billie Jean Guerrero, director of the Pyramid Lake Museum & Visitors Center. Visit to learn more.

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