Under One Sky opened Saturday | NevadaAppeal.com

Under One Sky opened Saturday

by Susie Vasquez, Appeal Staff Writer
Shelby Autumn Smith, 5, a Cui-ui Dicutta Paiute, or Fisheaters Paiute, looks at part of the Under One Sky Exhibit at the Nevada State Museum which opened to the public Saturday. The exhibit shows a history of Native Americans in and around Northern Nevada, including the Paiute Indians. Photo by Brian Corley

People filled the museum for the grand opening of “Under One Sky,” the Nevada State Museum’s newest exhibit Saturday.

Finely woven water bottles, arrowheads, metate brushes mix with larger exhibits, creating a web of art, history, culture and lore describing the Native American experience.

The literature passed down through generations — beautiful, simple tales of nature — are captured on film and related by Indians, often in their own language with subtitles.

“This is something new. Many of these stories have never been told before,” said Ashley George, a Paiute born at Stillwater, near Fallon. “It’s a good thing for both Indians and whites. Most people, our young ones included, don’t know these stories.”

Currently living in Sacramento, George is one of the many Native Americans who worked on the project.

“There was a lot of input from the tribes, when this exhibit was put together,” said Doug Gardipe, a member of the Washoe tribe from Hungry Valley in Reno. “I think it well help Indians understand their own culture.”

Just outside the exhibit, Shoshone, Washoe and Paiute intermingled with moms, dads and children, gathering in small knots under the trees. Native Americans sold beadwork, the Indian tacos were ready and the Red Hoop singers performed as young Indian girls swayed to the music in traditional costumes.

The idea for this exhibit started three years ago, borne of a dispute with the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone over the remains of Spirit Cave Man.

When former Fallon tribal chair Alvin Moyle responded in a letter agreeing to native participation in this exhibit, he signed the farewell “under one sky,” according to Gene Hattori, museum curator of anthropology.

The museum contracted with the University of Nevada, Reno’s Oral History Project to collect stories from tribal elders and archaeologists contributed a gallery of museum collections, including ancient native baskets, jewelry and a life-sized cave representing a hypothetical archaeological site.

The exhibit cost roughly $300,000 and after 2-1/2 years, will be moved to the main museum to update its permanent Native American exhibit.

Under One Sky is a work in progress. New exhibits, including a hands-on area where children will be able to make tule-style ducks and boats, will eventually be added.