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The Stone Mother

Native American Heritage Site
The Stone Mother with snow on the Pah Rah Mountains in the distance. – Scott H. Carey

ADA Accessibility Notes

Not ADA Accessible

Due to vandalism in the area, the Stone Mother has been closed to general public by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe until further notice.

The Great Stone Mother is a remarkable tufa rock formation that resembles a hooded Indian woman seated with an open basket lying next to her. The site is considered sacred to the Paiute People and is associated with traditional stories that explain the creation of Pyramid Lake. There are many versions to the Stone Mother story and vary amongst Paiute families.

Following is the most commonly told story about Stone Mother:

One day the father of all Indians came to this area and lived on a mountain near still water. It is said that he was created near Reese River. He was a very great and good man. He was very lonesome and wished he had someone to keep him company.

One day, much later, Woman heard about Man. She was married to Bear. She wished that someday she might see Man, and this made Bear very jealous. One day Woman and Bear had a fight. They fought for a long time and finally she knocked him down and killed him with a club. She decided to leave the country and go north in search of Man. She had many interesting experiences on her trip. Even today, her footprints can be seen along Mono Lake.

Near Yerington, she fought a giant who tried to eat her. She managed to kill him and his body turned to stone, where it can also be seen today.

She arrived at Stillwater Mountain at last. There she saw Man who was so handsome. She hid from him in for fear he might leave. One day, as Man was walking around he saw Woman's tracks. He started to look for her, and called out, saying that he knew she was around. At last she came out from hiding. She was nervous and very tired from her trip. He noticed this and spoke to her kindly. He asked her to go with him to his camp where he would give her food. She meekly followed him.

After they finished eating, Man asked Woman to stay with him. That night she stayed near the fire. The next night she slept by the door. Each night she moved a little closer. On the fifth night they were married. They had many children.

Their first born was a boy who was very mean. He was always causing trouble among the other children. One day when they were fighting, the father called the children together to talk to them. He told them that if they continued to fight he would have to separate them. They started fighting before he finished talking.

Man became very angry. He stopped them and said, I am going to separate you now. I shall go up to my home in the sky. When you die you will come up to me. All you have to do is follow the dusty-road (pointing to the Milky-Way). You will reach my home where I shall be waiting. Some day I hope that you will all come to your senses and live together in peace

Slowly he called the oldest boy and gave him one of the girls. He sent them west. They became the Pitt-Rivers. The other children who were peaceful, he kept at home. He told them that they were to take good care of their mother whom he was leaving with them. They became the "Paiutes". Then he went up into the mountains then up to the sky.

The Paiutes grew into a strong Tribe, but woman still grieved for her other children. Woman was so sad that she began to cry bitterly. She missed her other children very much. She cried more and more each day.

One day she decided to sit near a mountain where she could look toward Pitt River country. She sat there day after day crying. Her tears fell so fast that they formed a great lake beneath her. This became "Pyramid Lake". She sat so long that she turned to stone. There she remained to this day, sitting on the Eastern shore of Pyramid Lake, with her basket by her side.

The "Kuyuidokado" (Pyramid Lake Paiutes/Cui-ui eaters) call her "Stone Mother."

Pet Friendly Notes

Dogs are permitted in the area, but must be on a leash per Tribal regulations.

Visitor Restrictions or Regulations

Due to vandalism in the area, the Stone Mother has been closed to general public by the Pyramid Lake Paitue Tribe until further notice. The Stone Mother is a very important cultural resource to the Paiute people and should be treated with great respect.

Responsibility of Cultural Resources and Proper Etiquette: • Prehistoric and Historic sites are viewed as the homes of our ancestors. • Be as respectful as you would be when visiting anyone's home • Do use designated trails • Do not remove artifacts • Do view structures from distance • Do not reveal site locations or give out GPS coordinates, irresponsible articles, books, websites and blogs that will result in sites being over-visited, damaged or even looted • Do take all trash & waste with you • Do leave only footprints

Responsible Petroglyph/Rock Art Etiquette: • Do not mark on or add graffiti or deface the images on the Rock Art • Do not walk or climb across the Petroglyphs • Do not trace or make rubbings of the Rock Art • Do no use chalk or other materials to outline the Rock Art • Do educate yourself about the respect of the cultural site • Let's ensure that future generations have the same access to the same quality experiences of traditional culture resources and environment setting as we do today.

Be honored to witness these resources today. Long ago, our ancestors saw the same resources. They preserved them for us, we must preserve them for the generations to come.


Due to vandalism in the area, the Stone Mother has been closed to general public by the Pyramid Lake Paitue Tribe until further notice.

Seasons Open

Year Round. Unpaved road to the Stone Mother may not be accessible in Winter and Spring.


Due to vandalism in the area, the Stone Mother has been closed to general public by the Pyramid Lake Paitue Tribe until further notice.

Nearby Places