Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe museum nominated for national medal |

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe museum nominated for national medal

Special to First Nation’s Focus
From left, Loni Romo, Emileigh Mason and Michaela King were among many in attendance on Sept. 9 for the museum's 20th anniversary celebration.
Courtesy Jackie Cawelti

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The National Medals for Museum and Library Service are designed to recognize outstanding libraries and museums that contribute significantly to the wellbeing of their communities, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The Institute’s director, with the advice of the Museum and Library Services Board, selects medal recipients. In addition to the medal, IMLS may grant a monetary award.

Recipients are usually announced in the spring on the IMLS website. Visit the National Medals page at to learn more about the annual celebration of the National Medal recipients.

NIXON, Nev. — The Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitors Center was nominated this year for a 2019 National Medal for Museum Service by the Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

The museum is owned and operated by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, elders of which envisioned a cultural center as an essential structure to share the tribal culture and history.

In the 1970s, funding was secured to build a cultural center and an architect was hired to design it. The foundation and masonry walls were constructed; however, funding fell short before the facility was completed.

It remained vacant for 23 years until 1996 when additional funding allowed for renovations and completion. Also, in 1996 the U.S. Secretary of Transportation designated the Pyramid Lake Scenic By-way, the first scenic by-way within an Indian Reservation.

The Pyramid Lake Museum & Visitors Center first opened to the public on August 26, 1998; on Sept. 9, 2018, the museum held a 20th anniversary celebration in commemoration of 20 years of serving the reservation communities and visitors.

The center was built with the local communities in mind, especially tribal youth and elders. Knowing the tribal history, culture and life ways are important in continuing the heritage for the Kooyooe Tukadu (Cui-Ui Eaters).

The Museum is named “Ki Nasoomoowakwatu,” which means “Never to be Forgotten,” as a memorial to our ancestors to preserve and share the Numu (Paiute) culture within the community and the world around us. This museum is the only tribal museum in Nevada.

The mission of the Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitors Center is to collect, exhibit and preserve the history and culture of the Northern Paiute People, providing an educational forum for the appreciation, respect and understanding of the Paiute culture.

The Numu culture is and always has been based on community. The museum works with other individuals, institutions and businesses to promote the Pyramid Lake Museum as a place to learn about the rich Numu history and culture.

There are short films, digital stories, displays, story maps, virtual reality programs, friendly interactions, programs and events that provide a historical and cultural backdrop for the exhibits. This intimate gallery showcases unique artifacts, archival items and contemporary works of the Kooyooe Tukadu.

The sacrifices and trauma inflicted upon the Numu, by the U.S. government, have proven that we are survivors. The museum is tasked with the responsibility of teaching our children and the world around us the importance of the Numu culture of community, identity and heritage, using trusted sources of information.

The museum staff believe in life-long learning and share this belief through story-telling, interactive teaching and engagement of the people who visit the museum. Respect, appreciation and understanding are priorities as caretakers of this land. We are the Kooyooe Tukadu — and this is our home.

Museum staff work to develop the professional skills to build institutional capacity and strive to learn best practices in museum management. Access to the museum is increased by continued education to ensure responsible stewardship of the collections and artifacts, many of which are priceless. Staff use various media outlets to communicate cultural knowledge and vision.

Keeping the Numu culture alive and thriving is an important goal, so there will always be pride in who we are and where we come from.

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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