The Story of Chief Truckee

This Thanksgiving, I’m going to do something a bit different.

From now until the end of November, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite landscapes, a little bit about their heritage and the people whose traditional lands they belong to.

I shot this image at sunset along the Tahoe-Pyrmid Trail as I explored the path between Tahoe and Reno. The view is spectacular and has a rich history of indigenous voices and westerners traveling westward over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.


In articles dated as far back as the mid-1800s, many emigrants who were looking to cross the Sierra Nevadas safely into California were guided by a local Paiute Chief.

The river that is seen in the image above flows from the mountains and down through the valley and along the river are large trees, splendid plants and grasses. When traveling along the route, the Chief used the Pauite word for “all right” as he pointed down the trail to the west.

This word sounds like “tro-kay” and everyone assumed the Chief was indicating that his name was “tro-kay.” Word eventually spread that “tro-kay” meant “all right” and that the Chief had guided many parties safely.

From then on, the word “tro-kay” took on the pronunciation, Truckee, and westerners began to call the Chief “Truckee.” The Chief liked the name and so he kept it.

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