Lake Tahoe has long been the center of Washoe territory. Washoe ancestral land centered around Da ow a ga (Lake Tahoe), sacred giver of life; the land included fertile valleys, the desert, meadows and snow covered mountains. The lake and environs are the geographical, indeed, spiritual focus of the tribe. As tribal elders put it: “We did not travel here from another place. We have been on this land since the beginning and have always lived here.” In fact, anthropological evidence suggests at least ten thousand years of Washoe occupation.
During an 1844 expedition, Captain John C. Frémont reported meeting a peaceful people, who used snow shoes and caught rabbits with nets. A ﬂood of miners and settlers displaced and devastated the Washoe people. (For a moving account of Washoe life and their tragic collision with western frontier culture, read the Thomas Sanchez novel, Rabbit Boss.)