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inside Springs Preserve

Message from our president

Wayne Pichler has served as the media coordinator of the Friends of Nevada State Museum Las Vegas for over a year. But Wayne has a new job and his schedule is not flexible enough to allow him to continue working with our board. To finish Wayne's term, which ends in January 2019, we are fortunate to have enlisted Elliot Meacham. Elliot brings creative and technical writing skills to the board, along with expertise in web site management. On behalf of the board and the Friends members, I would like to thank Wayne for his many contributions, and welcome Elliot to our organization!

Mary Savage, president

Wayne Pichler received a map for his service. Elliot Meacham joins board.

How scientists preserve flora

By Camilla Camburn

A record of the flora of our area is "as important as having a picture of your grandparents on the mantel." With this preface from Las Vegas arborist, horticulturist and illustrator Laura Eisenberg, she started the Friends' April 28 workshop. Titled "Mounting an Herbarium Specimen," which was well attended. Before the hands-on portion, Eisenberg used slides to describe what an herbarium - a collection of preserved plant specimens - can offer. It can yield information about related insects and animals, the climate and soil, as well as the health of the ecosystem. For example, noting the effects of growth and change allows for better decision-making about habitat loss or degradation. Case in point: the current mega-drought in the Southwest.

Parts of plants and steps to mounting

In preparation for mounting, Eisenberg took participants through the basic components of a plant: root, stem, leaves, flower and fruit. As much of this material as possible should be included on an herbarium voucher, which is the pressed plant adhered to archival paper. Participants prepared the adhesive and set up the mounting paper prior to choosing the plant material to mount. Take time to choose the best side of the specimen in order to display all its characteristics, Eisenberg next advised. Any plant material that is not used on the voucher is still preserved because it may be of use for DNA testing or educational activities. Finally, a paper capsule for the saved, small, loose parts is created and attached to the voucher. Also, a voucher label is prepared that identifies the name of the owner or collection, the plant name and family, the location and date where/when the plant was collected, and the name of the field collector. The session concluded with a raffle drawing for a plant press.

The Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas herbarium appears to be the only one known locally that is linked to butterflies, which use certain plants to lay eggs and serve as food for caterpillars and adult butterflies. If you would like to volunteer at the museum herbarium contact Sali Underwood

Elliot Meacham made this colorful voucher, with photo by Camilla Camburn.

Did ancients in Overton area roast lily bulbs on tall mesa?

By Sarah Hulme

Archaeologist James Kangas on May 5 presented to a Las Vegas museum audience the first evidence that ancestral residents of the Virgin and Muddy river basins built roasting ovens and spent a lot of energy on the preparation of food.

They may have even roasted and eaten bulbs of a particular desert lily that vines across the ground, he told his audience at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas. Potential evidence of lily bulb roasting is present at sites in northern Nevada, but this is the first recorded evidence of this type of prehistoric activity on top of a mesa in the American Southwest, he said.

Kangas made his remarks as part of the 2018 Southern Nevada Archaeological Speaker Series. An archeologist for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, he titled his talk, "An Expansive Winding Mariposa Lily Bulb Roasting Site at the Virgin Muddy River Divide." He based his remarks on an archaeological survey that took place in 2015 on Mormon Mesa near Overton, which is northeast of Las Vegas. The mesa is an isolated flat-topped hill with steep sides rising 600 feet from its surroundings.

The severe slope severely restricted access by modern and prehistoric peoples. It does not have a water source and is covered with rough scrub vegetation. The Mormon Mesa was known by Ancestral Puebloans who lived in pit houses in the near valley area up until the 1200s.

Lily's spring timing matters

The 2015 survey covered 3600 acres, resulting in the discovery of nearly 2,000 earthen roasting pits - similar to a slow cooker or crockpot - with many in distinct clusters. It showed the area had been used repeatedly for hundreds of years. Also, it's clear the ancestral Puebloans' food preparation was extensive because it included collecting firewood, digging to make the roasting pits, gathering rocks, and collecting foodstuffs.

This naturally leads to a question: What were they roasting on the mesa, since yucca or agave plants found in valley areas - and associated with valley roasting pits - don't grow on Mormon Mesa?

Further research and a springtime visit to the mesa led to the important discovery that the Winding Mariposa Lily was flowering all over the mesa's top. These plants have bulbs 1.5 centimeters in diameter and found typically 20 centimeters deep in the ground, with a nutritional value similar to a potato's.

The plant - whose scientific name is Calochortus flexuosus - typically trails along the ground and when it stops flowering, disappears from view. This explains why previous visits did not identify the plant as a potential food source. No surveys had occurred during the lily's narrow flowering season, Kangas said.

Archaeological excavation of some of the roasting pits has led to the theory that the pits may have been used to cook bulbs from the Winding Mariposa Lily, harvested at the top of Mormon Mesa. There is potential evidence of lily bulb roasting at other archaeological sites in Nevada, but this is the first recorded evidence of this type of prehistoric activity on top of a mesa in southeastern Nevada, which is part of the American Southwest.

Did ancients trade their roasted lilies?

Such extensive harvesting and use of lily bulbs above Ancestral Puebloan settlements in the adjacent Virgin and Muddy river basins has important implications for understanding the transition from wild to domesticated plant foods for peoples living in the area.

A spirited discussion followed Kangas' presentation, with local archaeologists in the audience suggesting that roasted bulbs may have been stored for future use, including trade with other communities. All did agree that more excavation and surveying in the area will be interesting

James Kangas points to marked locations on Mormon Mesa near Overton.

Free audio, video made by Friends for visitors to NSMLV

By Several Officers

What do flying bats, showgirl costumes and telephone booths have in common?

Each has been cited in a new travel video as the speaker's favorite item at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas.

Employees of the museum teamed up with the Friends to create a video that combines short segments about currently displayed artifacts, fossils, taxidermized animals or exhibits. In each vignette, a curator, museum worker or volunteer explains why he or she is so intrigued by that particular item. All the objects were selected from areas of the museum that are open to the public - such as the galleries, the museum's library or the rotunda.

You can download the IZI app to your smartphone or tablet to use the next time you're at the museum. Or, enjoy the video from "izi.TRAVEL" - "IZI" for short - at home on the Internet.

The museum's always-playing vintage video from the Hoover Dam construction site is one of his go-to exhibits, employee Robert Borrego tells the camera. "How many people came over here to work in hard conditions," he says, pointing to the screen, where an open-sided lift is hauling 20 or so men up or down a cliff at the Black Canyon, where the dam now stands.

Another video segment - each is only a minute or long - begins with an "hello" from employee Dewayne Johnson as he casually steps out of an out-of-service phone booth stationed near the rotunda. It's his favorite exhibit because it offers a hands-on experience that is unfamiliar to many children. Some know only cell phones, have never used a pay phone, and no idea how to phone using a rotary dial. Johnson advises the audience to dial the old machine to hear a "super" recorded message, which is an inside joke for Superman fans. To get the joke, dial the old phone yourself sometime.

The ichthyosaur replica that dominates one wall of the museum's main gallery has always fascinated Aneirin Pendragon, a museum attendant, part because he'd never heard of the gigantic, now-extinct sea creature until moving to Nevada. The animal, which is Nevada's state fossil, went extinct despite the absence of larger predators. Watch Pendragon's video to learn why.

It is possible the Friends will add more segments to the IZI travel video if we can persuade some articulate child visitors to go on camera - with parental permission - to share their perspectives on the museum.

Instructions for easy IZI experience

OPTION 1: App on phone or tablet

Download the free app by searching for izi.TRAVEL in your app store. When you open the app, it should recognize where you are (if this feature is switched on). If you are in Las Vegas it will automatically display all the places with videos it has in the app. Nevada State Museum Las Vegas will display as an option - select this.

If you have this feature switched off, then just type 'Las Vegas' into the search field and a photo of Nevada State Museum will be displayed. Once you have NSMLV displayed, touch the photo of the building, then select 'View All Exhibits' using the right-hand corner menu icon and choose the video you want.

On an Iphone play the video, and not just the audio track, select the three dots in the bottom left-hand corner and select 'Watch Video.' On an Android phone, click the "i" button. A new screen appears; click the arrow to play the video.

From here, you can also take a quiz, share the video with friends or post on Social Media.

Having the app on your phone allows you to walk around the museum while watching the videos. Or, scan the QR codes posted in the museum gallery to access the videos directly.

OPTION 2:Web site

Go to the izi.TRAVEL web site. On its home page, go to the top middle and click on 'audio guides.' (Don't be deterred by the word 'audio.') Then put 'Nevada State Museum' into the search box, and the museum's full name will appear: Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas.

Click on the full name to get the index page of videos and audios. Next select the topic you want, such as 'Bats.'' For simple audio, click the dark green arrowhead. For full video, click the green icon below the arrow, which looks like a snippet of movie film.

By the way, the "About the Museum" video at the top of the museum's IZI page should be familiar. It's the silent video the Friends created more than a year ago, which successfully ran for a time as a public announcement at local DMV offices.

African-Americans in Las Vegas

By Joan Whitely

African-Americans have been here in Las Vegas from its earliest days. They helped integrate the city's casinos by threatening a march down the Las Vegas Strip in March 1960. And their traditional neighborhood, called the Westside, may be the next near-downtown area to be revitalized and gentrified.

Oral historian Claytee White made all those statements, and explained them, during the talk she gave on African&n#45;American Las Vegans to the museum Friends at their May 17 meeting. She heads the Oral History Research Center at UNLV.

Las Vegas was founded in 1905 as a watering station for the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. Walter Bracken, who ran the young town on behalf of that rail company - which later became the Union Pacific - "wanted the African-Americans on Block 17," White said.

Block 17 was one of 40-some blocks in the new town. Since it lay close to Block 16, the block for selling alcohol, Block 17 was never a prestigious address. But as more people of all races came to make a living in Las Vegas, white interests pressured the growing black population to move out of downtown proper, just west of the original railroad tracks, giving rise to a segregated black neighborhood called the Westside.

Even into the 1940 and 1950s, Westside housing and plumbing was inferior, photographs show. And yet, as top-caliber black artists were performing on the Strip, the hotels refused to allow black guests into their casinos or hotel rooms, not even the marquee entertainers. Instead, notables such as Louie Armstrong, Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr. had to room in boarding houses on the Westside.

However, in 1955, African-Americans bucked Las Vegas powers by helping open an integrated casino on the Westside. The Moulin Rouge featured black dancers and a black emcee named Bill Bailey - and welcomed guests of all races. Celebrities including Tallulah Bankhead came in from Hollywood to enjoy the shows there.

But the casino only lasted for six months. White offered two theories for its demise. Either the Moulin Rouge was too much competition for Strip hotels, who engineered its failure, or other parties siphoned off money "between the table and the counting room."

In 1960 as a national effort, the headquarters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asked Las Vegas African-Americans to push harder for integration. Thus, a dialogue began between the NAACP in New York with black and white leaders in Las Vegas. It culminated with an agreement for hotel integration hashed out on a Saturday morning in March at the Moulin Rouge, whose hotel portion had remained open.

"It was all verbal. No one took notes. We know it happened because we have newspaper articles," White said.

But integration "wasn't automatic everywhere," she added. "People would make reservations, come up from San Diego," and then were told at hotel check-in - when their skin color was apparent - that they had no reservation after all.

White has done oral histories of various Las Vegans connected with the events of the 1960s, including some African-Americans who tested whether hotels would honor the so-called Moulin Rouge agreement.

Ruby Amie-Pilot, a tester, told White she and her husband went out one evening to the Sands with a hundred-dollar bill, and sat down to gamble. When a dealer simply bypassed Ruby, her husband went to buttonhole a manager, who overrode the dealer. White said Pilot was glad about the equal treatment, but less thrilled at spending $100.

Integration in housing and schools entered slowly in the early 1970s. In 1971, demonstrators of all races marched in Las Vegas to protest the low wages for all hotel workers.

As time marched on, the Westside deteriorated in vibrancy because Las Vegas blacks became able to move wherever in Las Vegas they could afford to live. But White holds out hope that the historic Westside - still home to many African-American churches - will be revitalized soon, for its proximity to the Smith Center and the rest of downtown.

Free WIFI is museum amenity

On May 10, teamwork was celebrated at a cable-cutting to mark the arrival of free public WIFI on the museum's main floor.

Hyper Networks, the Nevada Board of Museums and History, the Las Vegas state museum and its Friends group collaborated to bring free WIFI to museum visitors.

Sarah Hulme, the Friends secretary, was crucial for developing the public/private partnership. She and an industry colleague, Steve Escher, contacted Ryan Draayer of Hyper Networks to ask for assistance with the installation.

Las Vegas-based Hyper Networks is a premier provider of network services and Ryan Draayer, its owner, then proposed a cost-sharing arrangement between his company and the Friends to install and operate WIFI at the museum. Finally, the Friends asked the Nevada Board of Museums and history also to contribute, which it did.

This cooperation has resulted in free WIFI for museum visitors. Hyper Networks will continue its role as a corporate sponsor, providing free maintenance and administration of the system for the next three years.

The Friends also thank museum staff members for help and patience during the WIFI installation, especially Paul Curry and Tom Dyer.

Hats, Handbags and History, soon

Join us for a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a glass of sparkling wine while we learn more about the history of hats and handbags at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas from Karan Feder, its guest curator of costume and textiles.

The Hats, Handbags and History fundraiser begins at 2 p.m. on June 23 (Saturday). Admission is free.

Bid if you like on a selection of purses in our silent auction. Wear your favorite hat and maybe win a prize for best headdress. Please register to attend online

All events held at the museum and are free with paid admission or membership. No registration required unless otherwise noted. Friends general meetings are the 3rd Thurs. of month. The museum is at 309 S. Valley View Blvd., inside Springs Preserve, LV 89107
Sat Jun 2 2-4 pm The Dirt on Dirt Doug Merkler, retired, USDA Southern NV Archaeology Speaker Series
Sat June 2 1-5 pm Exploring Nevada Education Room Family Summer Program
Sat June 9 1-5 pm Crazy Chemistry Education Room Family Summer Program
Sat June 16 1-5 pm Scats and Tracks Education Room Family Summer Program
Thurs Jun 21 6-7 pm History of burlesque Dustin Wax, executive director of Burlesque Hall of Fame Friends General Meeting
Sat Jun 23 2-4 pm Hats, Handbags and History Fundraising Event, with special museum exhibit Karan Feder, Guest Curator of Costumes and Textiles Friends Event *REGISTRATION REQUIRED*
Sat June 23 1-5 pm Archaeology Education Room Family Summer Program
Sat Jun 30 2-4 pm Meet Shonisaurus popularis, Nevada's State Fossil Paige dePolo, paleontologist researcher Friends Workshop
Sat June 30 1-5 pm Micro-Adventures Education Room Family Summer Program
Sat July 7 1-5 pm Mining Education Room Family Summer Program
Sat July 14 1-5 pm Sports in Nevada Education Room Family Summer Program
Thurs Jul 19 6-7 pm Endangered NV Landmarks Shae Smith Cox, deputy director of Preserve Nevada Friends General Meeting
Sat July 21 1-5 pm Pioneer Education Room Family Summer Program
Sat July 28 1-5 pm Desert Seasons Education Room Family Summer Program

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