As Nevada looks to observe its statehood this weekend, the Washoe tribe is also planning a celebration of its heritage.
“The Washoe tribe has been here 18,000 to 25,000 years,” said Martin Montgomery, who’s organizing the powwow through the Red Hoop Singers. “It’s all a collaboration of community.”
Meaning “the people’s gathering,” the 35th annual La Ka Lel Be Powwow will be Friday through Saturday at the Carson Colony Gym.
“Anybody and everybody is welcome to come and get a sense of our tradition,” Montgomery said. “We want to bring awareness and unite people, welcome people into our world.”
The powwow will be a celebration of song and dance, as well as the traditional gambling hand game and a horseshoe tournament. Guests can dance Native American style during intertribal songs.
“If we can create a family environment, without drugs and alcohol, and promote a healthy alternative, that’s what we want to do,” Montgomery said. “We want to have a cultural exchange. It’s not just about us, we want to see what other people do, too.”
Songs are performed in English as well as native languages.
“We have songs for falling in love and falling out of love. We have songs for the seasons. We have songs for everyday life,” Montgomery said. “Each dance has a story behind it.”
Dancers from across the West will compete in a variety of dance styles. Booths will be set up with Native American crafts and food, including Indian tacos.
“It’s a good place to go and bring the kids, get something to eat, maybe pick something up for the holidays,” Montgomery said. “I think that’s what the world is missing, just a place to have a fun time, and that’s what the powwow is about. We want to have fun and meet people.”
Admission is free; $20 fee to enter the horseshoe competition.