A Washoe Indian Sacred Place: A Brief Summary

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In the book Cave Rock: Climbers, Courts, and A Washoe Indian Sacred Place, the authors Matthew S. Makley and Michael J. Makley describe the history of legal dispute between a small Nevada Native American tribe, called Washoe, and non-Native climbers, over the use of Cave Rock. For a countless generation of Washoes, Cave Rock was the center of a great spiritual significance. The site use was strictly restricted to the Shamans, the most powerful traditional Indian doctors. The doctors do not explain what they do in the rock, but the Washoes claim that what the Shamans do up in the rock has “something to do with power involving extremely secretive and sacred rites” (10). While the rest of Washoe tribes have avoided trespassing the site, the Native doctors used the Cave to connect with powerful forces (11). However, the Washoes were shocked when the first highway tunnel was blasted into the rock in 1931, and then again a second tunnel in 1957 (20). The Washoe believed that the Spirit of Cave Rock will haunt those involved in the destruction. Undeniably, the construction was delayed by over two months from the original completion date due to several accidents on site (21-22). On the other hand, when rock-climbing and other recreational activities became very popular at Cave Rock, the Washoes wanted to ban the use of it for climbing and have it declared as a…show more content…
As Wallace sets it forth “either a site is honored or it is not” (66). On most conflicts Native Americans were compromising with their new neighbors, which resulted in their loss and suffering. Nonetheless, the Cave Rock case was not about compromise, it was whether to allow further destruction of the Rock or not. In conclusion, the Cave Rock is a model for other Native communities showing how to make a proper claim besides setting a precedent for all future

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