The Democratic Women's Club of Carson City donated $500 on Saturday toward efforts to put a statue of Sarah Winnemucca in Washington D.C.'s National Statuary Hall.
The money was raised at the club's recent fund-raiser, a tea fashion show at the Governor's Mansion on March 16. Alice Gottschalk Downer, an 89-year-old native Nevadan and member of the club, said she plans to be in Washington for the statue's unveiling.
"This is such an exciting thing and I'm so proud to be a part of it. Sarah helped introduce the Indians to the white culture and everything she did came from her heart," she said.
Born about 1844 to Chief Winnemucca of the northern Paiute tribe, Sarah Winnemucca lived in a time when her homeland and traditional way of life were threatened.
She took an instrumental role as interpreter and messenger for the U.S. Army during the Bannack War of 1878 and in 1880 traveled to Washington, D.C. to obtain the release of her people from their reservation.
She also toured the East Coast, giving speeches about the plight of her people and heavily criticized the reservation system.
When she returned to Nevada she founded a school for Native Americans whose educational practices and standards were ahead of its time. She was the first Native American woman to write her autobiography in 1883 and she is described as one of the most influential and charismatic Native American women in American history.
The effort was spearheaded by the Nevada Women's History Project, and that organization has raised $20,000 of the $150,000 needed to commission and place the statue.
Mary Anne Convis, spokesperson for the nonprofit organization, said fund-raising efforts were postponed following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D. C., but the project, started just six weeks ago, is doing very well.
"We've received donations for as little as $1," she said. "This is a real people's project."
Assemblywoman Marcia de Braga, D-Fallon, sponsored Assembly Bill 267, designating a statue of Sarah Winnemucca be placed in the hall. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Kenny Guinn on May 29, 2001.
The Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs is providing administrative support to the committee of six Nevadans who will choose a sculptor and oversee the statue's construction.
Raising funds for the project is the responsibility of the Nevada Women's History Project, an organization dedicated to marking the roles Nevada women have played in history. Donations are tax deductible.
For more information or to make a contribution, call 786-2335 or 876-3586 or visit their Web site at www.nevadawomen.org.