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New Washoe structure installed at Incline Village Library

Miranda Jacobson
mjacobson@tahoedailytribune.com

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The Incline Village Library welcomed their newest children’s area on Wednesday when artist Ben Rupert installed his long awaited galis dungal, finishing the cozy area just in time for the winter.

“My primary goal is to help out a cultural identity to show the tourists and locals of Lake Tahoe that this is Wašiw (Washoe) land,” Rupert said. “This was a very sacred place to the Wašiw people.”

The new exhibit was created by artist Ben Rupert, who has made it his mission to spread the Wašiw culture through the basin.
Provided/Ben Rupert

True to his own Washoe heritage, Rupert constructed the original galis dungal this summer with bark that was harvested from the Meyers area and pulled just days before the Caldor Fire made it to the basin.



A galis dungal means ‘winter shelter,’ and is the traditional dwelling of the Wašiw people. The walls are normally made from cedar bark and involve a time-intensive process of wood-curing that takes months to complete. The frame is structured around 10 poles and is then secured at the bottom with rocks. Rupert said that rather than cutting the trees down, it’s normal to wait for a tree to fall.

The Children’s Area also provides history of the galis dungal, a tradition Wašiw dwelling.
Miranda Jacobson/Tahoe Daily Tribune

“They always face towards the east or they try to face towards the east because that’s where the morning sun would come up and if you were staying in it, you would wake up and greet the morning centers,” Rupert said.



Rupert’s installation is surrounded by a few mushroom seats, and pieces of the bark used have hints of soft green moss. The piece was created with a window in the middle, perfect for children to read and enjoy the changing leaves of the trees outside the library.

Rupert has built multiple galis dungal structures around the Tahoe Basin in order to help spread knowledge about the Wašiw culture.

The traditional galis dungal structure that Rupert built at the Incline Village Visitors Center. It as preivously destroyed, and Rupert was able to build it again with the support of the community.
Provided/Ben Rupert

“That’s a personal goal of mine,” Rupert said. “To teach and share the knowledge of the Wašiw people around this subject.”

To visit the newest galis dungal structure, visit the Incline Village Library, located at 845 Alder Ave.


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