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June 21, 2008 Soulstice Festival, Truckee, California
Moonalice poster by Alexandra Fischer
According to Moonalice legend, the summer solstice is the High Holy Day when tribe members coming of age participate in the Great Smoke Out. In addition to hacking and gagging, the holiday also came to have an unusual amount of daylight, presumably to ensure that the newly initiated could find their way home before dark. While the party often left tribe members in a fragile state, everyone had two days to rally before the equally intense Midsummer festival on June 24.
We consulted the Legend to learn the origin of Truckee. History claims the town was named after a Paiute chief, Tru-ki-zo. Tru-ki-zo was a great chief, father to Chief Winnemucca and grandfather to Sarah Winnemucca. We would be all in favor of naming a town after Tru-ki-zo, but we think there may be less of a connection with Truckee than people think. When the first white people got over the Sierras into present day Truckee, a very friendly Indian approached them. He smiled hopefully and yelled, “Tro-Kay.” The settlers assumed he was yelling his name — which is how Tru-ki-zo fits into this story — but Paiute scholars point out that in their language, “Tro-kay” means, “hello.” What they don’t tell you is that in the Moonalice dialect of that region, “tro-kay” is a question. It means, “Do you have any hemp?”
Apparently the white people had some hemp, because everyone lived happily ever after.