Pyramid Lake 2

Production Date: 
Two unnamed young women pose questions to a panel of female elders
Run Time: 
California Indian Legal Services (also mentioned in "Pyramid Lake 4") ?

Establishing shot:
Named locations:
Pyramid Lake, Nixon, NV.
Major themes covered:
A panel of women elders discuss Tribal history, Paiute Language, subsistence practices, Pyramid Lake water rights, history of relations between Pyramid Lake Indians and white settlers, Indian medicine, fishing, relations between Indian elders and the younger generation, living conditions of the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe.
Native activities shown:  
Individuals? Named?  
Native language spoken:
Northern Paiute

Noteworthy elements:  
Print Resources:

Bates, Joyce and Catherine Fowler. "Pyramid Lake Northern Paiute Fishing: The Ethnographic Record." Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 3.2 (1981): 176-86. Print.

     * This essay documents the several ways in which the water, and in particular, Pyramid Lake, plays a role in the subsistence practices of Northern Paiute tribes. The essay provides information about the materials used for the fishing, the types of fishes and animals that play a significant role in Paiute subsistence, and the geographical conditions of the lands and waters inhabited by the Northern Paiute. This essay is contemporary with the production of the Pyramid Lake films and it complements the perspectives and views expressed in the films.

Foley, Justin. "In Defense of Self: Identity and Place in Pyramid Lake Paiute History." MA Thesis. Reno: Univ. of Nevada, 2008. Print.

      *"Since the 1850s the Pyramid Lake Paiute have faced a variety of challenges to their identity. Unlike many indigenous groups, however, they have succeeded in maintaining control over a major portion of precontact range. In doing so, the tribe has retained key aspects of their precontact economy and identity even as acculturation became advanced. A consideration of the various pressures on Paiute identity and place throughout the last 160 years, as well as their responses to these pressures, speaks to the resilient nature of identity as well as its malleability." [retrieved from

Hafen, Jane.  Review of Voices of American Indian Assimilation and Resistance: Helen Hunt Jackson, Sarah Winnemucca, and Victoria Howard. Multicultural Review 11.1 (2002): 79. Print.

     * "Voices of American Indian Assimilation and Resistance is an important contribution to literary studies, feminist scholarship, and American Indian studies. It is innovative in its multigeneric and interdisciplinary approach, analyzing both oral and written narratives by and about American Indian women whose work emerged between 1879 and 1934. By placing female voice and agency at the center of her study, Senier reads the narratives of the white novelist Helen Hunt Jackson (1830–1885), author of Ramona, the "Indian's Uncle Tom's Cabin", the Paiute autobiographer and orator Sarah Winnemucca (1844–1891), and the Clackamas Chinook storyteller Victoria Howard (1865–1930) in the context of the Era of Assimilation. The author reveals the intricacies of their literary performances during a controversial time in American Indian history that "sought to eradicate indigenous community, land, and ways of life" (9), but created, paradoxically, "new opportunities for women to write and speak publicly" (ix). Moreover, Senier's work appears during a time of significant proliferation of U.S. third-world feminist discourse, as well as intense recovery of Indigenous women writers: reprintings of their work, full-length monographs and critical studies such as Sally Zajani's biography Sarah Winnemucca (2001), Kate Phillips's Helen Hunt Jackson: A Literary Life (2003), and Valerie Sherer Mathes's Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Reform Legacy (1990) and The Indian Reform Letters of Helen Hunt Jackson, 1879–1885 (1998)."

Hopkins, Sarah Winnemucca. Life Among the Piutes: their wrongs and claims. Reno: Univ. of Nevada Press, 1994. Print.

     *This is a book written by Sarah Winnemucca and edited by Mrs. Horace Mann. The following is a link to the full text for the book:

Knack, Martha and Omer Stewart. As Long as the River Shall Run: An Ethnohistory of Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. Reno: Univ. of Nevada Press, 1984. Print.

Online Resources;

* This is the official website for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. This website contains a wide range of information about the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and the relationship between subsistence practices and Pyramid Lake.

*This is a link to timeline of Pyramid Lake Paiute history. This source is likely to be the most useful for K-12 educators and those interested in gaining foundational knowledge about the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe and the lands that they inhabit.

*This link to Nevada Magazine provides more information about the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe, as well as other Nevada tribes and reservations.

*This link leads to some basic information about Charlotte Harry and Ralph Burns, two members of the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe who are activists/educators within their community.

* This is a short piece on the environmental significance of terminal lakes, and, in particular, the environmental and communal significance of Pyramid Lake. Written by Mike Strobel.

*This is a link to the full text of The Tufas of Pyramid Lake by Larry Benson. This source also provides geological history pertaining specifically to Pyramid Lake, as well as a number of photographs of the region surrounding the lake.

*This is a link to the website for the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers. This particular link leads to a short piece about the tenuous relationship between the notion of Pyramid Lake as a sacred place for members of the tribe and the notion of Pyramid Lake as a recreational destination. The piece, "Sacred place vs. recreational space: Outdoors buffs sometimes miss the meaning of American Indian sites," originally appeared in The Reno Gazette-Journal and is written by David B. Parker.

*This link provides information about the Pyramid Lake War of 1860. This war was the first major eruption between Indians and white settlers in the region and remains the historical basis for the crisis of water and resources that has been ongoing in the 20th and 21st centuries.

* This link provides information about a talk given at the 2011 Vine Deloria, Jr. Distinguished Scholars Series by Karletta Chief of the Dept. of Soil, Water, and Environmental Sciences at the University of Arizona. Dr. Chief presented “The Vulnerability of Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Water Resources to Climate Change: Analysis of Perception, Power, and Influence.” This link also provides a short synopsis of her study and contact information for Dr. Chief.

*A short biography on Ralph Burns, 2013 NEA National Heritage Fellow and a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe: "Pyramid Lake Paiute elder Ralph Burns is a revered storyteller and native-language specialist. Burns grew up on the Pyramid Lake Paiute reservation in Nixon, Nevada, where he learned the Numu (Northern Paiute) language and traditional stories from his family and community members. After serving in the 1st Cavalry Division during the Vietnam War and subsequent years of working in California, Burns returned home to the reservation to devote his life to spearheading native-language revival and revitalization among the Northern Paiute.

At the Pyramid Lake Paiute Museum and Cultural Center, Burns is the cultural resource specialist, serves as a resource for the Paiute language program, and is a frequent storyteller. Burns is also an accomplished traditional dancer who frequently leads the sacred circle powwow dances and has instructed groups at the Pyramid Lake Reservation and Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. For more than two decades, he has taught the Numu language to tribal students, local high school students, and community members, and developed a language curriculum to teach both Native American and non-Native American people. 'Without the efforts of Mr. Burns, these traditional arts of the Paiute people and other Indian people would be lost," wrote Sherry Rupert of the State of Nevada Indian Commission in a letter in support of Burns's nomination.

Throughout the region, Burns presents the history, culture, and traditional stories of the northern Paiutes to his community, other tribal communities, and non-Native American audiences. Burns uses storytelling as an integral tool when teaching the language, since traditionally the Paiute language was passed on orally. Catherine S. Fowler, professor of anthropology, emerita at the University of Nevada, Reno noted, "[Burns] never neglects with these audiences to stress the significance of the stories in the Native language as a further show of respect for the language as well as a way to illustrate for non-Native people the beauty and fullness of the language.'

Frequently sought-out, Burns has performed blessings and offered Paiute tribal stories at both state and federal ceremonies, including the 2011 Nevada State Governor's Inauguration and the dedication of the Sarah Winnemucca statue at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. His stories of animals, land, and people are part of the exhibits in the Nevada State Museum in Carson City. In 2011, Burns received the Nevada Heritage Award for his contributions to the many people and cultures of the state."

*"Sarah Winnemucca was a member of the Native American Paiutes nation, an activist for her people and the first Native woman to publish in the English language. Her autobiography, Life Among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims, tells the story the Paiutes and their encounters with Europeans. She campaigned vigorously for a suitable home for her people."

* This is the Special Collections website for the University of Nevada, Reno. This particular link provides information about the Guide to the Records of Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Collection No. NC16. The link provides basic information about the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, as well as an extensive list of sources housed at the University of Nevada, Reno. The records of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe were donated to the Special Collections Department at the University's library in 1964.

*This is a link to several articles that have appeared on the Indian Country website about the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.

*A link to the Sierra Nevada Geotourism MapGuide website, and, in particular, to the information for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Museum and Visitors Center.

*This is a link to the website for the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. This particular link provides biographical information about several famous Indian people in Nevada, including the Pyramid Lake Paiute Chief Winnemucca and his daughter, Sarah.

--Emily Thomas, 2013