Great Basin Native American’s Story - CODAworx

Great Basin Native American’s Story

Submitted by Hattas Public Murals

Client: California Trail Interpretive Center

Location: Elko, USA

Completion date: 2013

Artwork budget: $60,000

Project Team


Jeanine Hattas

Hattas Public Murals


Gary Koy

California Trail Interpretive Center


Hattas completed five (5) murals for the California Trail Interpretive Center, commissioned by the Southern Nevada Conservancy. The Center is dedicated to telling the story of the pioneers who headed west along the California Trail in the mid-1800s. This room and was dedicated to the Native Americans who were affected by this migration. I worked with a panel of Government officials and local Native Americans to tell their accurate and personal story. The murals cover approximately 1200 sq ft.


The museum is focused on the story of the pioneers traveling west. This room was solely dedicated to the Native Americans' story. Therefore, this room had to look different. I accomplished this by using vibrant colors, and expansive, story-telling murals. The committees' goals were to: (1) Show the Native Americans' daily life before the pioneers arrived. (2) The devastation after the pioneers' arrival. (3) The tribes still live in the area, and celebrate their culture. I treated the room as a timeline over five walls. The first wall (yellow), shows the pioneers' wagons approaching, with a Native American watching cautiously. The second wall (blue) shows their daily life, how they hunted; fished; gathered food; cooked; played; and made baskets, blankets, boats and homes. The third wall (purple) shows the devastation after the pioneers arrived. Dirty water, plants and animals died, disease spread, and the Native Americans were forced to leave their homes. The fourth wall (green) shows the integration of the Native Americans into white culture, showing an actual school class of that time. And the final fifth wall (cyan) is a modern-day pow-wow, showing that the Native Americans still live in the area and celebrate their culture.


I worked very closely with a committee comprised of government officials and local Native Americans. I learned the tribes' stories, ways of expression, and personal voice. I researched their history and photographed the land. I proposed painting murals on every surface of the room, telling their story in a life-size, vibrant manner. Their story has seldom been represented correctly in history books and artworks. I was careful to tell the story from their perspective. At the unveiling, local Native Americans were brought to prideful tears upon seeing their story accurately portrayed with the powerful murals.