Makleys tell story of Cave Rock court battle |

Makleys tell story of Cave Rock court battle

Father and son co-authors Matthew S. Makley and Michael J. Makley bring “Cave Rock: Climbers, Courts and a Washoe Indian Sacred Place” to life in the form of a 132-page paperback book.

The Makleys chronicle a struggle between two passionate but opposing groups intent on honoring Cave Rock in their own way. The Nevada Washoe Indian Tribe and sport climbers battled for access to this beloved Lake Tahoe landmark in a court case that spanned across two decades. The Washoe people believe Cave Rock is sacred and should be treated properly. According to their beliefs, climbing desecrates what is holy, especially since it employs the use of fixed anchors. Sport climbers treasure the climb up one of the most aesthetically beautiful and internationally renowned granite rock faces. They consider Cave Rock a special place and worship it in a way that is unique to them.

The Makleys’ comprehensive account of this conflict unveils the legal twists and turns of this case that gained national attention. In the end, favor fell upon the Native Americans and sport climbing was banned on Cave Rock. It was an unpredicted and unprecedented outcome given the fact that the Washoe Tribe consisted of 1,900 members while more than 100 corporations backed the climbers’ advocacy group, the Access Fund. When the verdict came down in August 2007, joyous cries rang out. The ruling was personal and held great significance for the Washoe Tribe. But there were also those on the opposing side who were exasperated, angry and disappointed. Controversy swirls even today in the aftermath of the gavel’s thud.

What is in a natural landmark? Theodore Roosevelt said, “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm.”

What is sacred? Sanctity is defined within the soul of each individual. The vast interpretive possibilities of sanctity surround this controversial case. Political lobbying, governmental rulings and legal precedents are all a part of the story. You’ll be introduced to the key players who fought tirelessly from both sides of the issue. The plight of the Native Americans, the unwavering passion of the climbers and the fragility of the court system are all exposed in the process.

As a historian you will embrace “Cave Rock” for its historical content and as a Tahoe lover you will appreciate a renewed gratitude for this iconic landmark and all that it means to so many. Black and white photographs grace the center pages depicting early Washoe settlers as well as daring mountain climbers. It is in these pictures and within the pages of this well written documentary that we can feel the passion behind the struggle. We understand why the fight was worth fighting.

– Gloria Sinibaldi resides part-time in South Lake Tahoe. Her short story “A Means To Survive”

appears in “Tahoe Blues.” She is a job coach,

trainer and author. She contributes monthly to

the business section of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. Contact her at:

Cave Rock: Climbers, Courts And A Washoe Indian Sacred Place

Mathew S. Makley and Michael J. Makley

Publisher: University of Nevada Press

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