Ralph Burns is an accomplished language teacher and knowledgeable about the oral traditions of Paiute culture. He regularly tells traditional stories, myths and legends in both Paiute and in English. Here he tells a mythological tale about the Stone Mother, that explains the origins of his people. He tells the story at the actual site of the dramatic Stone Mother figure, a Tufa formation on the shores of Pyramid Lake. The Stone Mother is an important figure in the storytelling of several tribes.
Ralph is also a gifted environmental interpreter of the region around Pyramid Lake. He received the Nevada Heritage Award in 2010 and is a respected elder of his people. He works at the Pyramid Lake Museum and Cultural Center.
The story is told here in Paiute, and then in English. This film is a collaboration between Ralph and filmmaker Teri Brewer on behalf of the Nevada Arts Council. All raw footage is on file and we are grateful to the Tribal Council for permission to film on location at the site of the Stone Mother.
This film is part of Nevada Stories, an online video project of the Nevada Arts Council’s Folklife Program, funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.