Fund-raiser for Sara Winnemucca statue

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Members of the Nevada Women's History project are hoping to place a statue of Nevadan Sarah Winnemucca alongside one of Sen. Pat McCarran in Washington, D.C.'s National Statuary Hall.

All they need is about $150,000.

The 2001 Legislature approved the placement of Winnemucca, a legendary 19th century Indian activist, as Nevada's second statue in the hall. Each state is allowed two statues, but Nevada is one of three states with only one.

The Nevada Women and co-sponsors American Association of University Women are hosting the inaugural fund-raiser for the Sarah Winnemucca Project on Wed., March 6 in Reno. Reservations to the dinner and history show must be received by Friday. Carrie Townley Porter, project co-chair and Nevada Women acting state president, said while the group has had about $8,000 donated, they need up to $150,000 to pay the cost of a sculpture, materials -- the 7- to 9-foot statue has to be either bronze or marble -- shipping and set-up costs.

The "Conversations with History" fund-raiser will feature living history performances of notable Nevada women featuring Sue Ballew as Nellie Mighels Davis, Dorothy Dolan as Annie Roberts, Cherry Jones as Dr. Eliza Cook, Kathy Noneman as Bird Wilson, Holly Van Valkenburgh as Anne Martin and Townley Porter as Helen J. Stewart.

Townley Porter said the women's history project championed the Winnemucca statue to bring recognition to "Nevada's first public woman."

Winnemucca lived between 1844 and 1891 and was one of only a few Paiutes in Nevada in the 1800s who learned to read and write. She spoke five languages and toured much of the U.S., giving more than 300 speeches about the plight of Native Americans.

She was an outspoken critic of the reservation system and dogged government officials in Washington for the release of Paiutes sent to live in the Yakima Reservation in the northwest.

Winnemucca also worked as an interpreter and messenger for the U.S. Army during the Bannock Indian War of 1878, and historians give her credit for mediating between white settlers and the Paiute Tribe.

She started an Indian school near Lovelock, which later served as a model of Native American education.

Her book, "Life Among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims," was the first book written by a Native American woman and the first written documentation of customs of the Paiutes.

Townley Porter said there are only six statues of women in the hall and very few statues of Native Americans.

The Nevada Women's History Project is a non-profit educational group devoted to collecting and disseminating the history of Nevada women.

If you go:

What: Conversations with History: A Fund-raiser for the Sarah Winnemucca Project

When: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wed., March 6

Where: Siena Hotel Spa and Casino, 1 South Lake St., Reno

Cost: $40

Reservations must be received by Friday. For information, call 787-8779 or 852-0285 or head to the Web at


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