Wander Your Watershed
DeɁek Dawgó∙Ɂit Mountain (Da-ek Dow Go-et Mountain — formally Jeff Davis Peak)
By Herman Fillmore, Washoe Culture/Language Resources Department
The Waší∙šiw (Wašiw people from here), that now make up the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, have resided within the Sierras and western edge of the Great Basin since the beginning of time.
Within the last 100+ years the changes to the Sierras have seen the Wašiw people removed from the lands they once called home as foreigners staked claims to an area they saw as untouched by human hands. However, the forests, rivers, and valleys so many have come to enjoy for their pristine beauty were once shaped by the Waši∙šiw, and the Waši∙šiw people themselves were shaped by the lands themselves.
Not only did these newcomers to the region bring with them new technology, but they also brought a new language and worldview from a place far removed from Wašišiw ɁitdeɁ (the Washoe people’s homeland). They gave new names to plants and animals they had never seen before. They gave names to rivers, mountains, and lakes but quickly changed this new landscape forever as they clear cut forests, choked and overfished the lakes and rivers, and dug minerals from the soil.
Yet, the Wašiw people remain and have never stopped working to reclaim and restore the aboriginal lands to what they once were. Recent efforts to remove the names and likeness of confederate soldiers, and other historical figures whose beliefs and actions were oppressive and racist, have renewed conversations about returning traditional Indigenous names to not only acknowledge the Indigenous peoples who once navigated these lands but to correct the mistakes of white forefathers by no longer celebrating the accomplishments of those who caused harm to others for their own benefit.
The changing of the name from Jeff Davis Peak to DeɁek Dawgó∙Ɂit Mountain (Da-ek Dow Go-et Mountain, or “a saddle between two points” mountain in English) signifies for the first time in generations the return of the Wašiw language to its aboriginal lands but this time it is forever. This change in name was championed by the Huŋalelti Community, Woodfords Community Council, Wašiw Elder Dinah Pete, Woodfords Community Chairman Irvin Jim, and numerous allies to the Wašiw people. This further acknowledgement of the Wašiw people may seem insignificant to many outside of the Washoe Tribe, but for a people that have fought so hard to keep their language and culture alive, this is a small reminder that we can do better for the next generation and that we will always be here.