Bernice Auchoberry: An Oral History

Bernice Auchoberry: A Contribution to a Survey of Life in Carson Valley from First Settlement through the 1950s

Interviewee: Bernice Auchoberry
Interviewed: 1984
Published: 1984
Interviewer: R. T. King
UNOHP Catalog #108

Bernice Auchoberry, a Washoe, was born in 1914, near the end of a fifty-year period during which many Washoe families lived and worked on ranches owned by whites, scattered throughout the valley. Her father was a laborer on one of the largest of these, and Bernice eventually worked in the Minden home of the ranch’s owners.

Mrs. Auchoberry’s generation spans an era of cultural transition for her people. At the time of her birth most adult Washoe were monolingual and continued traditional practices associated with food gathering and ritual. Overcoming the social handicap of being a Washoe in a non-Washoe world, she eventually mastered English, gained a formal education and acquired the ability to operate in both societies, as have many of her contemporaries.

In this 1984 interview Bernice Auchoberry discusses some important elements of Washoe life in Carson Valley from the turn of the century through the 1950s. While most of her observations derive from personal experience, some are based on information handed down through her family. Of particular interest are descriptions of traditional Washoe foraging areas in the vicinity of Carson Valley, economic and social relations among the Washoe and other groups in the valley, and comments about the survival of certain Washoe rituals into mid-twentieth century.

This introduction and oral history is reprinted with permission from the University of Nevada Oral History Archive, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno.

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