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We at News from Native California are so grateful to all of the indigenous tribal communities across the state who are continuing to honor the ancestors, sing tribal songs, speak in original languages, practice dances, harvest native foods, care for indigenous plants, respect wildlife, create traditional art, pass on stories, fight for the environment, and protect sacred sites.
Thank you tremendously for all that you do to keep your cultures alive and for everything you have shared with us these past thirty years!
One of the joys of retirement is that each issue of News from Native California now comes to me as a complete surprise. A surprise, a delight, at times even a revelation.
"We are what, 70 percent water if we’re hydrated? 80 percent? That’s what we’re doing. We are rearranging the water in your body to be able to hold joy...that’s how I would characterize it. We’re changing the water to be able to hold beauty....That’s what singing does for her on a personal level.”—Melodie George-Moore (Hupa/Karuk)
My name is River Tikwi Garza. I’m a multimedia artist from Gardena, a small city in the South Bay area of Los Angeles.
I lived in Gardena the vast majority of my life until I moved to Pomona to attend college.
Welcome to the Zombie Apocalypse!
My friend and fierce indigenous social media warrior Cutcha Risling Baldy (Hupa/Karuk/Yurok) posted on her blog in December 2013 that she teaches in her university class about the public fascination (bordering on frenzy) with zombies. You know—“dead people walking,” popularly characterized by the TV series The Walking Dead.
Throughout the past few years I have been hearing a lot about Tule River Indian Reservation. Some of the Native ladies who are very involved in mental health in my local community have been going there each fall for a number of years for a women’s retreat. I have had an interest in attending myself but something—work, an event—always kept me from going.
When you visit Dorothy Ramon Learning Center in downtown Banning, you see dragonflies. Sculpted dragon- flies soar from the doors, welcoming you inside. Paintings and photos of dragonflies are flying around just about everywhere you look. Photos honor Native American culture bearers who have won the center’s Dragonfly Award, which is given (of course) at the annual Dragonfly Gala. And you likely will meet the center’s cofounder, Ernest Siva (Cahuilla/Serrano). He is the singer of the Dragonfly Song.
The great central Valley of California used to be a floodplain. It was a marshy wetland before non-Indian set- tlement began, full of insects and game. Major villages of Native people lived along the banks of what are now the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. The Sacramento River in the north, gathering from its Feather and the American River tributaries, flows southward through the valley for over four hundred miles. In the San Joaquin Valley, its name- sake flows roughly northwest for almost four hundred miles, picking up its tributaries, the Merced, Tuolumne, Stanislaus, and Mokelumne Rivers. Sadly, over one hundred years, the Central Valley has become a watershed that has been sucked dry of water and oil.
Recalling each person I have interviewed and worked with in the course of my work with News—their utter humanity, thoughtfulness, encouraging words, trust, and camaraderie—I find myself deeply moved by the absolute good fortune to have had the opportunity to give something back through my association with this remarkable magazine.
A GLIMPSE INTO OUR PAST
For centuries, the concept of race has forged our beliefs about one another regarding identity, culture, and even humanity. Though widely used as a classification tool for various genetic purposes, the social construct is not supported scientifically as an accurate marker of human genetic diversity, yet the popular belief that such diversity exists continues to have a profound and, in many cases, devastating effect on our lives.
Co-produced by kcetlink Media Group and the Autry Museum, Tending the Wild, a six-part multimedia series, presents the traditional environmental knowledge of Indigenous peoples across California by exploring their methods of shaping and caretaking the land for millennia.
On October 22, 2016, the second annual Native Arts Expo brought together Native artists from many tribes to share their work with each other and the community at the Gualala Arts Center. The Native Arts Expo was a longtime dream of Eric Wilder (Kashaya Pomo) to highlight the arts of Native people, some for the very first time. “Some artists’ art just hangs in their house and their art affects people. What comes out of their heart really impacts people when they see it and this expo is a place for them to share that,” Eric said.
As we celebrate thirty years of News from Native California in 2017, we also celebrate a quarter of a century since the founding of the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival. The Advocates (or AICLS, rhymes with “cycles”) dates from a meeting in 1992, hosted by Mary Bates Abbott and Robin Collier, founders of the Native California Network, an important organization of the 1990s.
Some of my earliest memories are of being in the old schoolhouse at home on Torres Martinez. From running around and playing inside, to the tribal youth council hosting haunted houses in it, a lot of us across the generations have these memories. But no one is around in the community anymore who actually attended school there when it was in operation.
Under the open skies of bright sunshine, black oak acorns are gathered in tightly woven baskets that hold water and even serve as a skillet over fire. International museums curate these baskets, which are still being used by the Cahuilla. Families have united specifically for a day’s work to prepare wiiwish, an acorn mush. This is a prehistoric ritual and a labor-intensive recipe that has deep-seated familial and communal ties.
Like a finely woven basket, our cultural places are threaded deeply into our histories, languages, cultures, and personalities. They continue to educate us and provide spiritual support as they did for our grandparents and their grandparents, going back to the dawn of time. In 2008, I was invited to prepare an article for a special supplement to News from Native California celebrating the Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC). I was asked to summarize some of the key laws that define how the NAHC operates and also determine if and to what degree California sacred sites, Native American graves, and landscapes are impacted by development projects, road construction, archaeological research, and other undertakings.
As an anthropology major at Cal State Northridge, I had many classes with Professor Clay Singer, who insisted on employing cultural monitors on every archaeological project. Of course this made absolute sense to me, I didn’t know this wasn’t the norm at the time. I began to learn the complexi- ties of Native California and made friends, beginning with Charlie Cooke (Chumash). Then I landed my first full-time museum job at the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles.
May 14, 1947–December 9, 2016
March 28, 1919–December 7, 2016