Stone Mother's tears of grief for her children formed Pyramid Lake. Today she'd be grieving for the depleted waters and at the vandalism.

Sacred Sites: Pyramid Lake and Stone Mother

ICTMN Staff
6/21/11

Iconic Pyramid Lake and its surrounding Paiute landmarks are under siege by a combination of vandalism and conflicts over water rights. Decades of litigation and court decisions contrary to the Paiute Tribe’s spiritual sustenance and the health of the lake have depleted the waters.

The lake could use the tears of Stone Mother, who wept so long and profusely for her exiled children that her tears filled up the lake, according to Paiute legend. She sat so long that she turned to stone, and there she still sits today, her basket next to her. Except that now she presides over a diminishing body of water.

Over the past century, so much water has been diverted from the Truckee River, which is Pyramid Lake’s lifeblood, that the lake’s water level has dropped by 80 feet and the wetlands of Winnemucca Lake have dried up, according to the tribe.

To pray for healing from this and other ills, the public is invited to this gathering at the Stone Mother/Pyramid Area at 10 a.m. PST on Tuesday, June 21, the longest day of the year and the last of a series of Sacred Places Prayer Days for Mother Earth organized by the Morningstar Institute.

As if the assault to the Paiute’s spiritual and physical survival wasn’t enough—besides using the lake for sustenance, the tribe preserves the petroglyphs and rock art that chronicle its existence—these places have also been smeared with graffiti and otherwise vandalized, so much so that the Stone Mother and Pyramid on the east shore of the lake had to be closed to visitors.

“The looting and vandalism of sacred places throughout the region has gone unchecked for many decades,” the Paiute release said. “Much damage has been done, and we must do what is necessary to protect our sacred areas.”

Pyramid Lake and its environs, including the northwestern part of the Great Basin, are home to many sacred sites. It recently held a cleanup and will hold another on Saturday June 25.

“The human responsibility is that we all must conduct the necessary measures to protect our precious resources and treasures,” the Paiute said in their invitation. “Our prayer and your prayer on this Day of Prayer for Sacred Places signify the importance and effort to ensure future generations the same enjoyment and blessings in our traditional practices at these sites.”

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