Artist Benjamin Victor's depiction of Sarah Winnemucca has been chosen to represent Nevada in the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C.
Bob Harmon, spokesman for the state Department of Cultural Affairs, said Wednesday committee members who made the decision felt the windswept motion depicted in Victor's figure captured her spirit.
"Wind is an icon for change," Victor told the committee. "And Sarah lived in the midst of change."
Born in 1844, Winnemucca was a Paiute activist, lecturer and author. She worked to improve communication between her people and whites, and to defend tribal rights.
In Victor's interpretation, Winnemucca holds a book in her left hand and a flower in her right hand.
"This typifies Sarah's mission to make white people understand that Indians are not savages," Victor said. "The flower in her right hand is a gesture of peace and harmony."
Churchill County Assemblywoman Marcia De Braga, one of the authors of the legislation that facilitated the project, lauded Winnemucca.
"She was chosen not because she was an Indian, but because she was the first public woman in Nevada," De Braga said. "That she was an Indian is a plus."
The 2001 Legislature unanimously passed a bill designating Winnemucca as Nevada's second statue in the collection. The first was a statue of the late Sen. Pat McCarran.
The idea for a Winnemucca statue was initiated by the Nevada Women's Project.
About $110,000 in private funding has been collected and more is expected soon, De Braga said. The statue should be in the collection by the spring of 2005.