Northern Paiute elder provides Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak inaugural blessing

Reverend Reynelda James, a Northern Paiute elder and a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, gave the inaugural invocation for Nevada's Governor in Paiute and English Photo courtesy: Guy Clifton, Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs

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Reynelda James spoke in her Native Paiute, then translated in English as she gave the invocation

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Reno-Sparks Indian Colony

Reverend Reynelda James, a Northern Paiute elder and a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, provided the invocation on Monday at the inaugural ceremony of Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. Speaking in her Native Paiute, then translating in English, Miss Reynelda asked the Creator to provide guidance of strength, wisdom, and humility not just for Governor Sisolak, but for all government representatives.  

James attended Stewart Indian School from 1945 until 1950. At age 16, she became governess to a Reno family. She returned home to the Pyramid Lake reservation in 1979. She is active in efforts to preserve Paiute traditional culture and language.

In 2006, Reverend James joined efforts by the Washoe County School District to revitalize and teach Northern Paiute to interested students. She taught Paiute at Spanish Springs High School for 9 years and continued to assist the annual Paiute Language Bowl held by the Washoe County School District. Today she works with younger children, providing Paiute language instruction to Head Start students at the Reno Sparks Indian Colony.

Reverend James, an Episcopal Deacon of Native Ministries in the Diocese of Nevada, was ordained in 2011. She is extraordinarily active in her church and bridges Christian faith and traditional Northern Paiute practices, serving her parishioners and the broader community wherever there is need for organizing, teaching, advising, or for consoling. She was profiled in Rabbi Malta Drucker’s 2006 White Fire: A Portrait of Women Spiritual Leaders in America. Drucker describes Reverend Reynelda James as “deep, steady, [and of] quiet spirit”.


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