stone mother of pyramid lake
Photo provided by the Nevada Historical Society





If you haven’t heard, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Council has closed the area around Stone Mother on Pyramid Lake. Since 1980 the tribe has closed several areas to the public because of the desecration by vandals. Nevada is quickly becoming one of those states where the phrase, “what is this world coming to”, is now a norm. Because of a few bad eggs, which seem to be growing in number, the general public will not be allowed to visit these wonderful places.

I have visited these, now closed areas throughout the years and found them beautiful, peaceful and spiritual. Seeing the Stone Mother on Pyramid inspired me to research and learn the story of the Stone Mother and put it in my book.

The Stone Mother is crying again, not for herself, but she cries for Nevada that is losing the very thing that attracted people to her in the first place and that is, a people that had respect for themselves, for others and for Nevada. Those days seem to be eroding with every increase in population.

Below is the story and legend of the Stone Mother, may she forgive us for our disrespect.


When I decided to put this story in my book, I did extensive research and found many different versions, even among the Paiutes themselves. The story below is my favorite of all the versions I have heard and read.

Thousands of years ago, the father of all Indians, “The Wolf” came to live on a mountain near Stillwater. The Great Father was a wise and good ruler.

A woman, who lived with her husband in another part of Nevada, had heard about the great father. The woman became infatuated with him, and thought of nothing except to meet him someday. This made her husband very jealous and led them to fighting all the time. One day, while they were having another fight, the woman, in a rage, killed her husband. She began searching for the Great Father.

During her journey she had many adventures. One, while walking on the Shore of Mono Lake, a giant creature tried to eat her, but she was able to kill the giant and escape.

She continued on her quest to find the Great Father. Until finally her journey brought her to Stillwater. Just as she arrived, she caught a glimpse of the Great Father. The woman couldn’t believe her eyes. She couldn’t believe how handsome he was.

The woman tried to hide from him for a time, but The Great Father noticed her tracks and called out to her and let her know that he knew she was there. He asked her to come out of hiding. The woman was scared and embarrassed but finally came out to meet him.

The Great Father knew she had traveled a long way and he took her to his camp. He fed her good food, and asked her to stay the night and she agreed with no hesitation.

After a few days together they fell in love with each other and they married on the eighth day. Soon afterwards they had children. The first child was a son, their second another son, and later several daughters. The oldest son was mean, troublesome and always fought with the other children, especially his brother. The fighting and bickering continued for many years.

The Great Father grew tired of all the fighting and had a meeting with all of his children to try to stop the fighting once and for all. He began by telling them that if they did not stop fighting, he would separate all of them. But before he could finish what he had to say, the children started fighting again.

The Great Father had had enough, and decided to separate all of them. He sent his oldest son and a girl to the west. They in turn became the Pit River Tribe. He sent his younger son with a girl to the east. They in turn became the Bannock Tribe. The other children remained at home and they became the Paiute Tribe.

After shunning his children the Great Father was so distraught that he went to his home in the sky.

After a time, both brothers returned home, and the brothers brought many warriors for battle. They began fighting in a valley. When the mother saw her sons fighting she was so sad, it broke her heart. The mother climbed until she got to the top of a hill and sat there as she watched her sons fight. She soon started to cry. The sons continued to fight and the mother cried faster and harder. She cried so hard and for so long that her tears filled the land below. From her tears a lake started to form. After many moons her tears created a great lake, this lake is now called Pyramid Lake.

The mother stayed on the hill crying for so long that she turned into stone and remains there to this day.

You can see the Stone Mother sitting on the east Shore of Pyramid Lake with her basket by her side.



Martin T. Smith

About the Author: Martin T. Smith

Besides being an authority on the Nevada state flag, Martin is the creator of 'The Nevada Trivia Game', author of 'The Nevada Outhouse Trivia Book' and longtime owner of 'The Flag Store Sign & Banner' in Sparks, Nevada.