The Peoples’ House

WZGT was formed in 2009 with a dream to bring the people together to discuss the challenges that are present in our communities. We noticed that our young ones were not carrying on the language and traditions passed down from our ancestors. Drugs, alcohol and gang activity have taken hold in our community taking our youth farther from their traditional ways of living. There is an increase of cultural loss and disconnect from our traditional foods, medicines, and our homelands beacuse of colonization. 

We also noticed a great divide among the people, where some wanted one thing and others another, so nothing could get decided upon. Thus, we sought to create dialogue amongst the people and it was decided to construct Washiw Tahn-Nu Ung-Gal (The Peoples House); a place to gather; talk Washiw, pray, educate, conduct ceremonies, and remember the values that our ancestors held as the original stewards of the land. It is our firm belief that the healing of the people is intricately intertwined with the language, culture, spiritual teachings and in returning to the land to learn how to live in balance and harmony on di’lah’ edi’, Mother Earth. We believe that when Washiw Tahn-Nu Ung-Gal is completed, the people will come together and once again, as in the olden days, discuss the things that we must do to help our people heal.

The Dream 

The original plans for Washiw Tahn-Nu Ung-Al were drawn up in 2015 with the intention of placing it on Washoe lands located at Clear Creak, just North of Carson City. These plans did not become realized as the land was under the jurisdiction of the Tribal Council and some council members were not in favor. Another attempt to construct Washiw Tahn-Nu Ung-Gal on land that was under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) did not prove to be viable as a result of  government regulations that did not allow access to the land. A third attempt was made to gain support for constructing it on tribally owned land other than Clear Creek. However again, challenges arose and Washiw Tahn-Nu Ung-Gal remains a dream.

The Promise 

Recently, WZGT members became aware of land located near Falling Leaf Lake, that at one time, was the meeting place for the Tahoe-Baikal Institute (TBI), established in 1990 to help preserve Lake Tahoe and Lake Baikal in Siberia, as well as other significant and threatened lake ecosystems around the world. A cultural exchange was developed to allow people to make friendships and connections across political, cultural, and religious divides and allows participants to learn more about the culture of Siberia, Mongolia, and other areas around the world. Washoe tribal members attended these cultural exchanges, and one of our WZGT Board Members remembers a promise that was made by a group of elders who were considered medicine doctors and shaman. She recalled the question posed by an elder participant, “has the yurt been put up yet?” The elder proceeded to explain that an agreement was made with members of the Washoe tribe in previous years to demonstrate our bound of prayer as Sister Lake people. In doing so, it was agreed to build a yurt in Washoe traditional homelands symbolizing the healing of the land, the water and the people.

A Dream & A Promise 

Since it was discovered that the land near Falling Leaf Lake, which once housed Tahoe-Baikal Institute (TBI) activities, may be obtainable, WZGT started a campaign to, once again bring to life the dream for Washiw Tahn-Nu Ung-Gal and the promise made in that meeting of elders in Siberia during the TBI Cultural Exchange many years ago. Thus, Washiw Tahn-Nu Ung-Gal will be constructed on traditional Washiw homelands at or around da’ oh’ aga’ (Lake Tahoe) symbolizing the healing of the land, the water and the people as was promised in a meeting with our Sister Lake people. Washiw Tahn-Nu Ung-Gal will be a place to gather; talk Washoe; conduct ceremony, pray and; remember the values that our ancestors held as stewards of the land. It will serve as a symbol of unity and solidarity within the Washiw community and extend to the larger surrounding community as we grow together as steward of this land.  Washiw Tahn-Nu Ung-Gal will symbolize the healing of the land the water, and Washiw–All the people.

We are currently seeking to secure land at Falling Leaf Lake near da’ oh’ aga’ to fulfill WZGT’s dream to build Washiw Tahn-Nu Ung-Gal and in keeping with the promise made to honor our solidarity with our Sister Lake relatives, the Buryat people in Siberia. We are only in the first year of this campaign and need all the help we can get. If you would like to provide financial assistance and/or other help in some way, please select the link labeled donate.  

We thank you for reading our story and ask that you join us with your good thought [prayers] as we seek to return to our traditional homelands.

This page was updated by Lisa Grayshield on September 27, 2021