The Washoe People
WA SHE SHU
One of the many things that is striking about the Washoe People is that they have inhabited the Great Basin for 6000 years. Their language is not like any other of the native people in the area and, in fact, their language is considered "a language isolate" and is considered endangered. They are believed to have inhabited the area long before other tribes.
According to the Manataka American Indian Council, "The Washoe are the original inhabitants of Lake Tahoe and all the lands surrounding it. The ancestral territory consists of Lake Tahoe at the center and extended out from Honey Lake to the North, the Pah Rah/Virginia Ranges to the east, the Sonora Pass to the south, and the central Sierra Nevadas in the west."
"They shared the lands to the east with the Paiute and Shoshone, they shared the land to the west with the Maidu and Miwok. But they were considered a peaceful people and the Washoe traveled a great deal in a year."
"In the spring they would begin to break camps in the valleys east of the Sierras and gather bulb plants and early grasses to hold them over until the snows melted enough to get to Lake Tahoe. When they got to the Lake, they began the first of their fish harvests when the fish of Lake Tahoe began to rise to the surface to spawn. This would only last for several weeks, and while the fishing was going on they were also gathering berries, wild rhubarb, cat tail seeds, sunflower seeds, wild onions, wild mustard, wild spinach, wild potatoes, sweet potatoes, tule root, wild turnips, wild celery and countless other edible and medicinal plants."
"During the summer they would begin to travel to other mountain lakes for additional fishing. They would hunt quail and other game. The Washoe were mindful not to deplete the populations or disrupt nature's reproductive cycles."
"During the fall they would catch mountain whitefish before the snows fell. They began to gather the harvest that would feed them through the winter.
They now began to move back down
into the valleys to winter. Pine nuts were a staple for the Washoe People and they harvested for about 6 weeks. Then came the game hunting in the valleys. Rabbits, squirrels, marmots, sage hens, quail, waterfowl, deer, antelope and big horn sheep."
"In the winter little food could be gathered and the Washoe ate mostly what they had stored from the previous year."
It is widely believed, and sites have been found proving that the Washoe People wintered and made camps along the Steamboat Creek and by Washoe Lake. Artifacts like arrow heads and pestles are commonly found along the Steamboat Creek watershed even today.
There are designated historic and archaeological sites between the TMWRF and the Butler Ranch North that had to be protected from developers in the 1990's. Is it not reasonable to assume that there are more that have not been found yet? An EIS (Environmental Impact Study) would make sure that there is no history about to be paved over and that there are no issues regarding historic archaeological sites that could be lost forever.