Wa-Pai-Shone day celebrates Native American culture | RecordCourier.com

Wa-Pai-Shone day celebrates Native American culture

by Aurora Sain
UNR Pow Wow Princess 16-year-old Alyssa Songoi leads the 'Basket Dance' during the kindergarten presentation at Meneley Elementary Friday.
Brad Coman |

Native American culture is an important part of United States history, and local tribes want to make sure that it is preserved.

Once a year an elementary school in Douglas County is chosen to participate in Wa-Pai-Shone Day, and this year it was C.C. Meneley Elementary School.

“We are trying to share our Washoe, Paiute, and Shoshone culture,” said Washoe and Paiute tribe member, Lana Hicks. “I think it brings awareness to the children, and lets them know we are still here.”

The school was broken into five groups, learning things about the culture, dance, and games played by the natives.

Each grade took turns visiting the groups in half hour blocks, learning as much as they could about the native people.

“I really liked the native games, like the stick game,” said fourth grader Coraleen Picotte. “We are learning a lot about the native American culture.”

The Wa-Pai-Shone day has taken turns visiting various elementary schools for almost 30 years, with the last time at C.C. Meneley being eight years ago, said Lori Pasqua, pre-college advisor.

“I think the biggest thing is its educational, and a way to orient the community to the tribes in the area,” said Rob Borges, education coordinator.

Gerald Hunter, a Washoe, Paiute, and Lakota tribe member said that it is important to keep traditions alive since there are so many tribes in the area.

“It creates understanding between the people of the valley and they cultures they are surrounded by,” he said.

He demonstrated what traditional tools looked like, what arrowheads look like and what hunting techniques Native Americans used.

Teresa Wright, from the Yurok tribe, had volunteers come and show the students’ native dances and clothing, and introduced them to the items used in the dances such as antlers and sagebrush.

The activities lasted all day, and ended with an all-school assembly and the hope that the students were able to learn something about the native people.

“It gives the public the opportunity to see our culture is still thriving,” said Wright.