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Finding Toquima Cave: North America’s Best Pictographs

July 25, 2023
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One look at this yellow and red Nevada wonderstone and I bet it will remind you of Toquima Cave, too. Get this one-of-a-kind Song Dog Silver Nevada Hat Pin, inspired by and made at the foot of Toquima Cave, right here.

Toquima Cave

There aren’t many museums and history centers that tell the complete story of Nevada’s indigenous histories, or at least any that I’ve come across. While you’ve got the plenty of museum exhibits that help fill in the blanks about specific tribes, or specific threads of American Indian histories in Nevada—take the Lost City Museum in Overton (Ancestral Puebloans), the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum & Visitor Center in Nixon (Northern Paiute), or even the Stewart Indian School in Carson City, for example—there really aren’t any that tell the complete histories of all the tribes in Nevada, past or present. To me, there’s no better way to study Nevada’s first inhabitants is by looking for evidence of their lives out in Nevada’s Great Basin, out there in Nevada Wild. 

But what was life in the Great Basin for Nevada’s first inhabitants, all those years ago? It’s something I think almost constantly as we travel to Nevada’s most far flung places. I wonder, “Who was the very first person to sit in this same hot spring I’m loving right now?” Or, “Who was the first person to stand on the tippy top of that peak all the way over there?” It’s easy to get swept up in imagining what life must’ve been like for the Western Shoshone, Northern Paiute and dozens more tribes living in this part of the world all those years ago. But a place like Toquima Cave takes all the guesswork right out of it—evidence of their lives is right there among hundreds of individual illustrations on the cave’s walls. 

Nevada Pictographs

Years ago, I got a phone call from a Canadian anthropologist asking if I had any photos of Toquima Cave I could send her to support her theory that Toquima Cave beholds the best pictographs in all of North America. I know Nevada has some truly amazing sites of all kinds, but knowing the Great Basin beholds the best examples of pictographs in all of North America really has a way of sticking with you. In this episode of Song Dog Silver in the field, follow along as I talk about why Toquima Cave has the best pictographs in the continent and why the cave is still such a sacred place for the Western Shoshone, and everyone else who stops by. 

Finding Nevada Wild YouTube

I’ve carefully studied and recorded all-things-Nevada for the past decade, and I couldn’t be more excited about this new project over on YouTube. Threading together my knowledge of one of the most overlooked places in America, my Song Dog Silver work, and love of Nevada backroads, if you like what you see I’d sure appreciate your subscription. Making this extra click is easy, free, and really helps me keep this whole thing going.

See my YouTube channel and subscribe right here.

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