More than $140,000 raised for historic statue
More than $140,000 has been raised for the Sarah Winnemucca statue headed to the National Statuary in Washington, D.C., organizers from the Nevada Women’s History Project said Saturday.
The news was announced during the group’s Pink Tea hosted by first lady Dema Guinn at the Governor’s Mansion. About $4,000 was raised during the tea alone.
Carson Middle School students Tiffany Moore and Christina Connell presented Guinn with a check for $500 on behalf of their school. The First Lady smiled, sweeping Moore’s hair over her shoulder as the crowd – including many in fancy hats and period dress – applauded.
“What a thrill it’s going to be when these students go see the statue in Washington, D.C., with their own children and they can say, ‘I helped raise money to make this happen,'” said Mary Anne Convis, co-chairwoman of the Winnemucca statue project.
“The statue will be unveiled in the middle of March,” she said.
Holly van Valkenburgh, dressed as suffragette Anne H. Martin, raised crossed fingers.
Their group was given the job of raising money for the statue project after successfully lobbying to have Winnemucca immortalized in marble or bronze. Out of the 97 statues in the hall so far – with two allotted to each state – there are only six women and no minorities. Nevada’s Winnemucca and a statue of Sacagawea from North Dakota will be the first enshrined among the crowd of mostly white men. Nevada’s other statue is a bronze likeness of former Sen. Patrick McCarran placed in 1960.
“I’m very excited,” said Gertrude Gottschalk during Saturday’s tea. “I think it’s about time we recognize the Indian people.”
Her sister-in-law Alice G. Downer thanked Dema Guinn for hosting the event.
“She has always extended us a warm welcome and supported the Sarah Winnemucca project from day one,” Downer said.
Many members of the history project hope to go witness the statue’s dedication, including the 91-year-old Lovelock Valley native.
Also Saturday, Carson City painter and barber Adam Baker donated a portrait of Winnemucca to the cause.
“Well, Sarah, I’m going to miss you” he said to the painting – one of his first – as he gave it away.
Sally Zanjani, of Reno, author of the book “Sarah Winnemucca,” was also there. She explained her reasons behind writing a book on the pioneer Paiute woman.
“You can’t not write a book about Sarah Winnemucca. She was such a remarkable person. She did so many amazing things.”
Winnemucca was the first American Indian woman to write a book, titled “Life Among the Paiute: Their Wrongs and Claims.” She started a school teaching both English and her native language, she served as an interpreter and she went to the president to seek justice for American Indians.
“We’ve never had anyone close to her,” Zanjani said.
The sculpture Nevada is sending to Washington is being created by Benjamin Victor. His likeness of Winnemucca reflects her name in Paiute – Thocmetony – which means Shellflower. She holds a flower in her right hand in the statue as reminder of the high esteem she had for her native culture, he said.
The annual Pink Tea is modeled after gatherings women used to disguise their political action meetings during the fight for women’s right to vote. This year’s tea was catered by Molly’s Gourmet Catering.