The Washoe Tribe’s annual La Ka Le’l Be Pow Wow will start with a grand entry at 7 p.m. tonight. The event, which draws hundreds of spectators and dancers in full regalia, will run all weekend with awards presented Sunday evening.
“It’s open to the public and there’s no charge,” said Arlene Wells, a member of the powwow committee for more than 10 years.
La Ka Le’l Be, pronounced “lah-kah LELL bee,” means “the gathering” in Washoe, she said. This is the time of year when scattered groups of Washoe would gather, she explained.
“Everybody would be out everywhere – in the Pine Nuts or up at Lake Tahoe – they covered this whole area. Then they got together in the fall.”
La Ka Le’l Be is a competitive powwow with dancers, drummers and singers competing for three days.
Dancers compete in several categories. Male dancers perform grass, traditional and fancy dancing while women compete in traditional, fancy and jingle. All ages compete.
Wells said one local dancer to watch is James Painter, a 12-year-old fifth-grader at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School.
“He competes in the traditional style which means he wears a bustle on the back of his outfit with feathers going around,” Wells said. “Kids use hawk feathers and when they get older they earn their eagle feathers.”
There will also be a drum contest with both southern- and northern-style contestants. Singing groups – often families – sit around big drums under shade structures taking turns providing the beat for dancers.
Saturday’s grand entry is scheduled for 3 p.m. – after the Nevada Day Parade. That way, the many Washoe and Paiute tribal members in the parade will be able to participate. Dancing will run until a dinner break at 5 p.m. After-dinner dancing will resume from 7 p.m. until about 11 p.m.
There will also be many vendors selling silver jewelry, arts and crafts and beadwork. One man from Washington will offer wool stocking caps and gloves knit by Indian students in Canada to pay for their school lunches.
Carson Colony resident Anna Peri will offer her popular pies for sale.
“She makes fabulous pies and they always sell out quick,” Wells said.
The La Ka Le’l Be Pow Wow is a drug- and alcohol-free event.
The public is welcome, but visitors should be careful with their photography.
“You don’t take pictures when the men traditional dancers are dancing because they’re wearing all their eagle feathers and it’s just something you don’t do,” Wells said. “And it’s always good to ask permission before you take someone’s picture.”
La Ka Le’l Be competitors and vendors are coming to Carson City from Arizona, Utah, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and South Dakota.