Photography show depicts Washoe elders

by Amy Alonzo, Record-Courier, June 20, 2017

A new photography show by local artist Nancy Raven highlights an often-overlooked population in the Carson Valley — the Washoe people.

Raven captured images of some of the Valley’s oldest native citizens in a series of portraits she is displaying at the Douglas County Historical Society. The show, titled “Tribal Elders,” opens Saturday with a reception from 12-2 p.m. and runs through July 21. It features about three dozen 11×14 matted and framed portraits of Washoe elders, both in black and white and in color.

“I feel so strongly these beautiful people need to be remembered somehow,” said Raven, 88, of Minden. “There are so many elders who won’t be around much longer.”

Raven started the project about a year ago. She visited local reservations and started asking people if they were interested in being photographed. She said the reception was cool at first, but after one woman agreed and invited her to her home, others soon followed in consenting.

“Once they saw how it was going to be done, they began to take an interest,” she said. Raven repaid anyone willing to have their portrait taken with color and black and white copies of the images.

The project is not Raven’s first foray into preserving Native American history. In 2008 her book “Wuzzie Comes to Camp,” profiling a Paiute woman named Wuzzie George, was published.

“I got hooked on the Nevada native American tradition,” she said. “It’s important to pay attention to the elders and honor them and our native people generally.”

Since completing this project more Washoe people have contacted her, and she hopes to compile enough portraits to do a second show next year, she said. She also hopes to show the images at other local venues.

Raven also has other projects up her sleeve — she is currently in the process of printing around 100 images of post offices located throughout Nevada. She is printing the images in her home darkroom.

The Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center is located at 1477 Highway 395 in Gardnerville. It is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. the first Saturday of each month. More information can be found at historicnv.org.

Frank-Greyshield
Frank Greyshield