Traditional singer, dancer and teacher of the Paiute language Christina Thomas will share her people’s heritage in a free presentation, “Songbird: Telling the Paiute Story,” at the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Thomas is of Paiute, Shoshone, and Hopi descent. She explores the performing arts of traditional singing, drumming and dancing. She has given lessons in the Paiute language, tells traditional stories, shares knowledge of traditional foods and plants, discusses the history of the Great Basin native peoples, and gives her unique perspective on contemporary Native American issues.
Thomas grew up on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation. The youngest teacher of the Paiute language in the Washoe County School District, she previously served as the youngest member of her tribe’s Cultural Committee and founded Native Butterflies, a girls’ youth group. She’s an alumna of the prestigious Americans for Indian Opportunity Ambassadors Program. She won the 2012 Beauty on a Mission award from Miss Humanity International, and received a 2013 Governor’s Points of Light Award for her community and cultural preservation work. She’s featured at the Pyramid Lake Museum as the youngest emerging leader of her people.
An accomplished traditional singer and dancer, Thomas has performed for First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Harry Reid, Gov. Brian Sandoval and others, and has been featured on local television shows and in numerous print articles, both nationally and internationally.
The presentation is part of the park’s Ferris Family Speaker Series, named in honor of the family of Margaret Ferris Dangberg, the wife of ranch founder Heinrich F. Dangberg. The series is sponsored by Bently Ranch, SoaringNV, The Record-Courier, Douglas County, Alpen Sierra Coffee Company, and the Frances C. and William P. Smallwood Foundation. Alpen Sierra Coffee Company is providing complimentary coffee for visitors throughout the series.
Upcoming speakers in the series include author and historian Michael Makley with a presentation on “John Mackay, William Sharon and the Fight for Comstock Bonanzas” on May 30; Chauatauquan Michael Fischer portraying Carson Valley rancher Heinrich F. Dangberg on June 20; and Kim Copél, in a Chautauqua portrayal of Lillian Virgin Finnegan, the creator of Genoa’s annual Candy Dance event, on June 28.
This is a free outdoor event. The park is located at 1450 Highway 88, about a quarter of a mile north of the Carson Valley Veterinary Hospital. Visitors are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or use one of the park’s chairs. Dogs are not permitted in the park, with the exception of certified service animals. For more information, go to dangberghomeranch.org, or call 775-783-9417.