“The homelands of the Washoe People”
When the snows melted in spring, the Washoe gathered at Lake Tahoe’s edge (dáɁaw), where they blessed the water and themselves, a tradition continuing today. One of their most sacred cultural and spiritual sites is Cave Rock—known as De’ek wadapush (rock standing gray)—on the southwestern shore.
The Washoe recognize the importance of preserving their traditional way of life while remaining an important part of modern society. They continue to hold traditional celebrations—such as rabbit drives—and like all Nevada’s tribes are teaching their youth to speak their native language.
Waší∙šiw ɁitdéɁ, American Indian Arts Festival, is held at the Tallac Historic Site at South Lake Tahoe each summer. The festival began as an opportunity to promote the basketry of the Washoe Tribe and showcase their beautiful fancy basketry. It has since continued to grow and now features basketry demonstrations, music, fine art, photography, dance performances and storytelling. The American Indian Film Institute also presents American Indian films throughout the festival.
Stewart Father’s Day Powwow
This annual powwow draws a number of quality American Indian arts and crafts vendors, and is also a time for alumni, former employees and their families and friends to gather at the former campus. Additionally, this fundraising event is part of an effort to establish the Stewart Indian Cultural Center. The event helps preserve the legacy and history of the Stewart Indian School from its inception to closure with displays of memorabilia, arts and crafts and items relative to the history of the school’s past.
Places of special interest
Meeks Bay and Resort
Once a gathering place on ancestral Washoe land, Meeks Bay at Lake Tahoe welcomes each guest as a friend. Comfortable lake front lodging and modern campsites are available. Guests are invited to sunbathe on Tahoe’s finest white sand beach, enjoy the water sport facilities, fish for Makinaw trout and take a walk or bike ride on the new paved path. The Visitors Center has a snack bar, convenience store, American Indian gift shop, conference room and other meeting rooms. It is also the perfect trailhead for entering the Desolation Wilderness, Sugar Pine Point State Park and other areas related to Meeks Bay Meadow.
Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum
The completed museum highlights not only the students, athletes and artists that were educated at the school, but the cultures of the Washoe, Paiute and Shoshone as well. Stewart Indian School operated from 1890 to 1980 and was initially a military-style school. During the 1950’s and ’60s, with the blending of American Indian staff, there was a cultural resurgence of language and customs.
The branding motto, The DA-AW Pledge:
- Destination planning and marketing authentic indigenous tourism and sustainable eco-cultural tourism
- Awareness of Waši·šiw Culture while improving quality of life and respecting cultural identity
- Acknowledge to be stewards of “Mother Earth” and protect the Great Basin biodiversity
- Wellness and transformative experiences through responsible and inclusive tourism (healthy land and healthy people)
Mi’de (Washoe language)
Mi’de (California Bear) is the Wa-siw (Washoe) spiritual relative that protects the Da-aw sacred water. Mi’de’s heart is the shape of Da-aw-aga (Lake Tahoe shoreline). Mi’de’s ears hear the indigenous stories and the eyes see the revitalization of the Wa-siw culture. The nose smells the season changes to gather traditional foods and prepare for winter. The small tail is the carbon footprint from this eco-cultural tourism destination. Mi’de’s four paws are The DA-AW Pledge and four guiding principles of Wasi-siw (Washoe People) Da-aw-aga (Lake Tahoe Shoreline) Tour.