Sarah Winnemucca statue to be unveiled in D.C.

The gracefully poised figure of Sarah Winnemucca will soon take her place among other bronzed figures in American history.

Gov. Kenny Guinn will dedicate the state's Sarah Winnemucca statue Wednesday evening in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington D.C. His remarks will focus on Winnemucca's place in 19th-century Nevada history and her importance as an American Indian leader.

The Nevada Women's History Project will also be honored for its contribution to the fund-raising effort. Nevada First Lady Dema Guinn, who served as honorary chairwoman for the statue selection committee, helped raise about $100,000.

Kathleen Clemence, chairwoman of the Sarah Winnemucca statue dedication event, said the 6-foot-4-inch statue is complete and beautiful.

Sculpted in Carson City, she stands on a 2-foot black granite base with a bronze plaque reading: Sarah Winnemucca, 1844 to 1891, Nevada, Defender of human rights, Educator, Author of first book by a native woman.

"I had the most amazing experience this afternoon," Clemence said Monday evening from Washington D.C. "(The artist) had to do some finishing touches on the statue so he and I were escorted out to the rotunda after hours when no one else was there. It was amazing to sit in the rotunda after hours and watch the artist at work. And then he came over and said to me 'She's done.' His smile was spread from ear to ear."

The $150,000 bronze statue depicts Sarah Winnemucca holding a shell-flower, where her Indian name originates, into the air and a book tucked against her hip with her left hand. Her intricate traditional Indian dress is blowing in the wind.

"Sarah Winnemucca was one of the truly great figures in the history of Nevada," Guinn said. "She was a believer in the brotherhood of mankind and lived her life so that she could always help others, whether they were Native Americans or settlers from outside of the state. This honor could not go to a more deserving historical figure."

Benjamin Victor, a 25-year-old sculptor from South Dakota, sculpted Winnemucca, who was born in 1844 near Humboldt Lake. She was an outspoken advocate for American Indians and wrote the first book published in English by a female American Indian, "Life Among the Paiute: Their Wrongs and Claims."

Nevada's congressional delegation members will attend the dedication, including Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign and Rep. Jim Gibbons.

The other Nevada statue in the gallery is of former U.S. Senator Pat McCarran. Out of the 97 statues in the hall so far - with two allotted to each state - there are 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.

n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.


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