Cultures combine at college festival |

Cultures combine at college festival

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer
Sue Coleman sits at a display of Indian baskets that were made from woven willow stems. Coleman, a member of the Washoe Indian Tribe, say her trade is a dying trade among native Americans in the United States. Photo by Brian Corley

For generations, the women in Sue Coleman’s family have weaved willow baskets as part of their Washoe Indian Tribe heritage.

But she fears the tradition may become lost and she’s fighting to save it.

“It’s dying,” she said. “There’s only a few people left in our tribe who weave. I don’t want it to die so I’m working to keep it alive.”

Coleman displayed her art Saturday at the annual Multicultural Festival at Western Nevada Community College as a way to preserve a fading way of life.

About 1,200 people attended the festival which featured traditional music, dancing, artifacts and food from cultures ranging from Greek and Russian to Mexican and Indian.

Erich Holcombe came for the Indian tacos.

“You can’t get them just anywhere,” he said. “You have to wait for a special event like this but it’s worth it.”

Kay Conley-Rawson, who dances under the name Saahira, hoped to foster interest in and understanding of the Middle Eastern culture represented through the Asha Belly Dancing group.

“Asha means life and to us dancing is life,” she said. “We’re representing a culture and not a religion.”

She also wanted to dispel any misconceptions.

“We would like to educate the public about belly dancing,” she said. “It’s not a strip-tease. It’s a family-oriented, very PG show.”

Luis Madera moved to the United States from Mexico 22 years ago at the age of 25. He has since learned English and teaches it to Spanish speakers. He came to the festival to learn more about cultures of the world, many of which are represented in Carson City.

“We are all people in the world — we just have different ways of expressing ourselves,” he said. “This is one way to feel united with the world.”

Robert and his friend Carol Trotter came especially to see the Irish dancers.

“It just looks really neat,” Conerby said. “The music is really neat. We’re really into diversity and traditional dancing.”