Elko mural pays homage to indigenous tribes



ELKO – A colorful new mural that will be seen by millions of people driving on Interstate 80 via Elko pays tribute to the 10 indigenous tribes of Northern Nevada.

Through its symbols, travelers and locals will have the opportunity to learn about the values ​​of the Newe and Numa peoples, thanks to the art project funded by Nevada Gold Mines.

Artist Micqaela Jones, who was born in Ely and raised in Owyhee on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, often uses the coyote, hummingbird and other symbols in her stylized paintings. But it was the first time she had painted a fresco.

“It’s brought a lot of awareness to our region and our Indigenous communities, and it’s been such an honor for me,” she said Oct. 14 during a ceremony marking the completion of the artwork painted on a water reservoir in the town of Elko.

Nevada Gold Mines funded the large artwork that pays homage to the tribes

“The hummingbird, to me, always represented my grandmother,” Jones said. “She was taken as a young girl to Stewart (Indian school).”

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Jones said she was grateful to have the opportunity to do something her grandmother might not have had the chance to do, “so I dedicate this to her, but also to all of the Indigenous survivors and to those who did not survive.

Descendants of the Newe and Numa now live primarily on reservations scattered across the state, including the Elko Strip Settlement which is on either side of I-80 a few blocks east. west of the new fresco. Jones is a registered Te-Moak, which is one of the Western Shoshone tribes.

Outgoing NGM director Greg Walker said the idea of ​​creating a mural to celebrate Native American culture came up last year. The mining company was able to involve the Nevada Department of Transportation as well as the city of Elko, owner of the water reservoir.

“Learning a bit about Native American culture was really special for me,” said Walker, who will soon return to his native Australia.

Jones said she appreciated Nevada Gold Mines approaching her about the project, but was initially hesitant to attempt it.

“I’ve almost painted a mural before,” she said, and “I’ve been an artist for 21 years.”

Artist Micqaela Jones poses with Nevada Gold Mines executive director Peter Richardson, left, and outgoing director Greg Walker.

But she saw the importance of connecting tribal communities through work. And her husband, Alex Crouch, convinced her she could do it.

The scaffolding was erected in August and it quickly became a project that involved the whole family. Crouch, who builds furniture for a living, explained how his concept could be fleshed out like his usual paintings, then enlarged from an inch to a foot on the curved surface of the tank.

“We had all of our (five) children working there and my 24-year-old son and his wife came from Mexico to help us,” he said. “It was a lot more work than we thought,” but he was happy that Jones accepted the challenge to take his works to a new level.

“The outpouring from the community has been amazing,” Jones said.

The mural is about 10 miles east of the California Trail Interpretive Center, which has its own exhibits chronicling the history and way of life of the tribes in what is now called the Great Basin.

Trevor Sneed of the South Fork Group of the Te-Moak Tribe opens the ceremony Oct. 14 at the Elko Senior Center.

“Europeans and Americans committed many atrocities against the Numa and Newe, including the decimation of their natural habitats and sacred sites; the indiscriminate murder and enslavement of their peoples; and mass theft of land,” says one of the exhibits. “Regardless of the heinous acts committed against them, the Newe and Numa peoples have remained remarkably resilient. Even to this day, both groups continue to fight for those treaty rights violated by the United States, the protection of their sacred sites, the revival of their language and cultural practices, and for recognition by states. united by their sovereignty.

Some of these conflicts have been with mining companies that now employ thousands of people in the region, many of whom are of indigenous ancestry.

“We are very happy to support a project that improves the visibility of local tribes and Native American culture in the region,” said NGM’s new executive director, Peter Richardson, from northern Sweden.

“Coming here to Elko, I look forward to learning more about Native American culture and further developing our partnership,” he told the small group gathered to celebrate the completion of the mural.

Elko Band Council President Danena Ike said the mural is “truly an inspiration to all of us”. She said that Jones “paints the ferocity, the beauty and our survival in the Great Basin”.

The dominant figure in the mural is the coyote, which Ike says represents survival on the land “as our native peoples have since our inception.”

“The red rose symbolizes us, the Newe, the Shoshone. Several red roses are painted on the mural that we, Newe and Numa, will continue to multiply and prosper,” Ike added.

“Thank you Micqaela for creating this mural which illustrates indigenous people, the beauty that surrounds us and the freedom that we experience every day, with hope for the future,” she said. “Thank you Nevada Gold Mines for making this possible.”


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