The Journey continues:

Preparing for Nevada Day, we wonder: What does it mean to be a Nevadan?


L.E. Baskow

A collection of Finding Nevada souvenirs that Matt and Mike have been collecting Sunday, October 20, 2013.

Finding Nevada Souvenirs

A small Windmill Ridge ceramic boot, one of the Finding Nevada souvenirs that Matt and Mike have been collecting Sunday, October 20, 2013. Launch slideshow »

We're setting off today for our third trek on our Finding Nevada project, and this tale comes to mind:

After taking the reins of a venerable Nevada institution, a woman was informed by a subordinate that she couldn’t claim to be in charge unless she was wearing cowboy boots. After all, this is Nevada – think the Old West, Virginia City and the frontier.

The woman protested that she owned plenty of boots – she grew up in the West. She was told that wasn’t good enough. The boots had to be purchased in Nevada.

So, now she has another pair of boots, and her Nevada street cred has been solidified.

The state has long branded itself with the Old West image. For decades, state officials talked about Nevada’s “western” hospitality, and cowboy imagery is long-engrained. Consider the iconic Vegas Vic in what was known as “glitter gulch.” State tourism officials love talking about the Pony Express cutting across Nevada and sharing images of wild horses.

People are proud of the state’s cowboy heritage. And although the state is far more cosmopolitan today, Nevadans still clutch to an Old West mentality. Historian Guy Rocha, the former state archivist, calls it “frontier libertarianism,” which he summed up in a 2011 interview as “this attitude that you’re going to be self-sufficient and you’re on your own and you’re responsible for your own behavior and you’re not your brother’s keeper and all the rest of that.”

Perhaps boots on the modern Nevadan symbolize that attitude. But isn't there more to being a Nevadan?

So as we prepare to celebrate the state's 149th anniversary this Nevada Day, we ask you: What does it mean to be a Nevadan? And what symbolizes Nevada to you – a picture, a memento, a scene?

As we continue our journeys to explore and define Nevada, we've been collecting souvenirs from around the state. Our collection so far includes some copper, a piece of rock with a silver vein, a bag of turquoise pieces from a family mine and a railroad spike.

What would you add to the collection?

With Nevada Day celebrations coming up this month (the official observance is Oct. 31), we’d love to hear your thoughts about what it means to be a Nevadan and what symbolizes the state. Send us your thoughts and any photos of things you think represent Nevada. The Sun will print a selection of the submissions.

You can keep your boots on (or off) and email them to [email protected]. If you’d rather send it via the modern Pony Express, the mailing address is Finding Nevada, c/o Las Vegas Sun, 2360 Corporate Circle, Third Floor, Henderson, NV 89074.

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