Washoe Tribe already prepping for annual Wa She Shu It’Deh festival
IF YOU GO
What: Wa She Shu It’Deh Arts Festival
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 27 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 28
Where: Tallac Historic Site, 1 Valhalla Road, South Lake Tahoe
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Preparations are underway for the Washoe Tribe’s 29th annual Wa She Shu It’Deh Arts Festival.
Featuring cultural events ranging from a Washoe basket competition (with weavers from Nevada and California) to traditional dancing, music, stories, plays, basketry and clothing, plus traditional games the event is July 27-28 at Lake Tahoe’s Tallac Historic Site.
This year’s theme is “reclaiming our stewardship practices (of the land),” a continuation of last year’s theme, emphasizing the impacts of climate change as a threat to the Washoe Tribe’s cultural traditions.
The Tribe spent their summers in Lake Tahoe for thousands of years, and this is the one weekend each year they share their history, food and customs with the public.
“The Washoe people feel it is their responsibility to educate the surrounding communities about the importance of taking proactive steps to protect the natural beauty of Tahoe and the surrounding area,” organizers said. “As original stewards the Washoe people have always ‘left no trace.’ In order for the Washoe traditions to continue there needs to be preservation of all the things that keep the Washoe culture alive, from the willows used to make baskets to the wildlife and habitat that are used in traditional meals and ceremonies.
“Washoe language and culture is intrinsically tied to their homeland and the people cannot be separated from the land from which they come.”
According to Washoe tradition, the center of the Wašiw world is DáɁaw Ɂaga (the edge of the lake — Lake Tahoe) both geographically and spiritually. Like most native peoples their lifestyles revolved around the environment; the people were part of the environment, and by taking care of the environment everything they needed was provided.
“The environmental concerns throughout the homelands of the Washoe continue to be threatened,” organizers said. “These threats are threats to their art of basketry and all their cultural traditions. An assessment done on Climate Change Vulnerability by Adaptation International shows that the environment is changing drastically due to overuse, ignorance and neglect bringing about the looming threat to the Washoe way of life and values of the Washoe people.”
For nearly three decades, members of the Washoe Tribe have come together at Valhalla for a festival of dance, music, and story-telling while sharing generations of their cultural past and revived traditions.
The festival showcases artist booths and vendors from around the western region. Vendors plan to sell Indian tacos, jewelry, art and clothing and there will be demonstrations and exhibits.
Food and drinks will be available for purchase. The event features a Basketry competition that showcases Washoe Basketry and traditional Basketry from across the United States.
There is also a fashion show showcasing Washoe designers and the Washoe community at large. The festival will feature traditional Paiute and Miwok (two other regional Tribes) dance performances and will be featuring pop-up live art exhibits as well as contemporary music performances.
Free parking is located along Hwy 89/Emerald Bay Road at the Valhalla entrance gate and at the Tallac Historic Site main entrance with shuttle service to and from the event. For more information, call 775-265-8600 or 775-781-4853.
After gold was found in California, silver was discovered in Virginia City, and the Comstock bonanza lured those seeking riches onto Washoe terrain. The settlers viewed the land as an object of financial opportunity. In a very short time, pine nuts, seeds, game and fish had been overused. The harmonious rhythm that the Washoe had maintained was broken.