Washoe Thanksgiving is part of daily celebration of family
November 28, 2002
The Washoe tribe celebrates Thanksgiving, but they don’t use the holiday to remember with pride when Europeans settled in North America.
“It’s a day to be with family,” said Lou Lane, administration and personnel officer for the tribe.
“We want people to become educated about the tribe,” Lane said. “There are some myths and misconceptions about the tribe. We’re all for letting people know about us.”
Wanda Batchelor, vice chairwoman of the tribe, agrees that Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate family, but she added celebration of family is an everyday occurrence for the Washoe people.
“You celebrate family and honor each other,” Batchelor said. “At my home, I’m going to have three generations. Our family is the backbone of who we are.”
There will be more than traditional Thanksgiving food on Washoe dinner tables today.
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“It’s turkey, traditional stuff, but also people make acorn biscuits, pine nut soup and fry bread,” Batchelor said. “Or there will be deer, rabbit or fish. At my home, we always have tom turkey there, but if you have fresh trout, you go for that.”
The Washoe tribe’s land is a patchwork of 84,000 acres, a composite of trusts and allotted land in California and Nevada. The tribe has about 1,700 enrolled members.
“Thanksgiving is every day if you are an Indian. The Washoe culture is a culture based on service and honor and how we honor ourselves, each other, our tribe and our nation,” said Brian Wallace, chairman of the Washoe tribe of California and Nevada. “That’s what Thanksgiving means to us.”
The Washoe tribe, which is based in Gardnerville, has lived around Lake Tahoe for thousands of years.
“That’s where we witnessed our first dawn,” Wallace said. “History is more of a place than it is a time for us.”