JEDI PRINCIPLES (JUSTICE, EQUALITY, DIVERSITY, INCLUSION)
We believe that JEDI principles begin with establishing a path to connection and belonging to the place itself. It is difficult to imagine yourself in a place without understanding how others like you have experienced it. But most of the human history that is available today revolves around the Euro-American emigrant men that traversed the desert on their way to settle the western territories; John C. Fremont first mapped the canyon in 1843-44, Jesse Applegate and his group traced a portion of Fremont’s route, establishing an alternate trail to Oregon, the discovery of gold in California in 1848 which set off a rush of gold-seekers crossing through the Black Rock Region.
If we are to engage all users and potential users of the NCA, it is important to not only tell the stories of the women who were part of the migration to the western territories but also the Native People who built community and culture for the 10,000 years preceding their arrival.
“In the New World,” said Carl Sauer in his 1932 monograph The Road to Cibola, “the routes of great explorations usually became historic highways and thus has been forged a link connecting the distant past with the modern present.” These Euro-American explorers were following trails beaten by many generations of Native Peoples. Sometimes, Native American travelers – products of the spirituality of their cultures – left shrines beside the trails and carved or painted images on nearby stone surfaces. Caves within the NCA reveal thousand-year-old shoes and baskets of reeds. Cresent-shaped tools used to stun waterfowl have been found around the ancient shoreline of Lake Lahontan.
For thousands of years, Native Americans took to the trails in the name of the harvest and the hunt as well as commerce, warfare, and celebration. They forged trails at least as far back as some eight or nine millennia ago, when Archaic Indian peoples likely began to follow regular seasonal circuits to harvest the ripening seeds, nuts and fruits of wild plants and to hunt migrating game of the basins and plains. As populations grew and cultures evolved over time, the Native Americans forged thousands of miles of interconnecting trails, some of which intersect the NCA.
Ancient symbols etched onto the sides of boulders lying along the western edge of what was once Winnemucca Lake are the oldest confirmed rock carvings in North America. The petroglyphs, carved in soft limestone, range from simple lines, pits, and swirls to more complex and ambiguous shapes that resemble diamonds, trees, flowers, and veins in a leaf, from about 8 inches to about 3 feet in width. A study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science concluded that the petroglyphs, are at least 10,500 years old, and perhaps as much as 14,800 years old.
Still, to many, this rich history remains invisible. Or worse.
Despite the NCA’s protective designation, in 1980 Elephant Mountain Cave in the Black Rock Desert, which contained a 10,000-year record of human life in northern Nevada, was looted. Remains of two 2,000-year-old Paiute children pulled from the cave were found quickly disposed of in the perpetrators yard.
Even the Land grant universities, public lands and monuments, museums and cultural centers tasked with telling these histories are often built on land that was violently and irrevocably wrested from tribes and indigenous people.
As an organization we recognize we not only have an obligation to provide site stewardship and oversight but to provide a platform for place-based histories and knowledge to unfold. Moreover, we have much work to do to make sure our own organization recruits for that plurality of story and voice through partnerships and support of Pyramid Lake and Summit Lake Paiute tribes own environmental and sustainability efforts.
Oldest Rock Art in North America–Winnemucca Dry Lake