Tahoe Paddle Fest to raise awareness of native culture, watercraft
July 31, 2009
Different types of watercraft will be on display this weekend and board carvers will demonstrate their craft at the inaugural Tahoe Paddle Fest.
This zero-waste event will showcase indigenous and non-motorized watercraft from around the world in a celebration of native and modern watercraft on Saturday and Sunday at El Dorado Beach, organizers said.
“It’s ancient art to state-of-the-art,” said John Dayberry, Tahoe Paddle Fest planner and founder of Native Elements, a landscaping service specializing in endemic landscaping.
Tahoe Paddle Fest is an effort to provide sustainability outreach to the community, and to support and preserve indigenous tribes around the world.
“People realize that we’re losing species every day, but few are aware that we’re also losing languages and culture through globalization, vanishing habitats, natural resource exploitation and even mass tourism,” said Peter Brumis, Tahoe Paddle Fest co-producer and founder of Ecomentum.com.
One of the presenters at the event will be Tom “Pohaku” Stone from Hawaii. He and his friend, Pake, will be carving two boards.
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“We’re water people,” Pohaku said. “The ocean is our home, and land is just a place we stop at.”
Preston Development donated a 500-year-old cedar tree for Pohaku and Pake to use, Dayberry said. One of the boards they carve will be raffled off on Sunday.
Pohaku’s father made him his first surfboard out of wood, and that’s how he learned to carve. The same tradition was passed through to Pake, too, and they want to share their knowledge.
Three boards were brought from Hawaii to show at Tahoe Paddle Fest, along with a koa paddle. One board, the ki’oe, is designed for tight tube riding. The alaia board is designed for a softer wave, and the kiko’o is styled for a fat wave, Pohaku said.
The boards Pohaku and Pake will carve will probably be kiko’o boards, Pohaku said.
Pohaku said he is excited to share his culture and honor the ancestry of the Washoe, and other native cultures. He is also a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Center for Hawaiian Studies.
“Just because we live in a capitalistic society, doesn’t mean we can’t walk in both worlds,” Pohaku said.
Many Native Americans are resurrecting their crafts and customs, and an event like this is a great place to connect with other groups and teach people about their ways, Dayberry said.
Dayberry got the idea for the event about a decade ago when he was working with the Washoe Tribe in Meeks Bay. He had brought his large, family-size canoe to a party and a whole family got in the boat to start paddling.
The family had never paddled before. That’s when Dayberry thought Lake Tahoe needed an event that celebrated water craft diversity from all different cultures and tribes.
Other speakers will include Native American and Hawaiian craftsmen and artists, to sustainability and composting experts. Tahoe Resource Conservation District will also be on hand to teach people how to inspect boats and avoid the introduction of invasive species, which could spell doom to Tahoe’s famously pristine waters.
Activities at the event include free kayak, stand-up paddle and canoe demos and clinics, boat rentals, free yoga each morning, Native American and modern music and hand-made art, and classic surfboard and paddleboard displays. A traditional Native American tule boat will be constructed on site.
Proceeds go the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, Surfrider and the Lions Club’s TREE program, Brumis said.
Dayberry and Brumis’ goal is to have the event grow and attract people from all over the globe to come and share their customs and watercraft.
“I want to do the paddle out on the 50th anniversary of this event,” Brumis said.
Tahoe Paddle Fest
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 1-2 at El Dorado Beach
Opening Blessing Ceremony 11 a.m. Aug. 1
Closing Paddle Out Ceremony 4 p.m. Aug. 2
Public Transportation: BlueGO will provide clean fuel vehicles, which will operate on their normal schedule, stopping at El Dorado Beach. Call ahead for BlueGo On Call for custom pickups and stops. Small watercraft can be transported with approval.
Biking: Bike valet and discounted tune-ups will be available.
For more information on attending, sponsoring or exhibiting, visit TahoePaddleFest.com
or e-mail TahoePaddleFest@ gmail.com .