Staff members of the Sierra College's Nevada County campus and members of the Nisenan tribe of the Nevada City Rancheria are touting their collaborative Heritage Day event Saturday as a milestone worth attending. For the Nisenan, the fourth incarnation of the Heritage Day being held at Sierra College represents, for the first time, the largest opportunity yet to incorporate their perspective into the local historical narrative taught in the county's education systems, said Shelly Covert, tribal council secretary for the Nevada City Rancheria. “The Nisenan hold the truth about their history and can tell it like no one else,” said Judith Lowry, an artist and leader of the California Heritage Indigenous Research Project, “rather than leave it to teachers who have to troll the intent looking for lesson plans on a subject about which they know little to nothing.”
For Mary Anne Kreshka, a member of the Sierra College Human Development and Family department, Saturday's event provides an opportunity for non-natives “to recognize that there are Native Americans living in our community and that it isn't just the stereotype of them dressed up and having a pow-wow but rather that they are contributing members in their community and that they have lives similar to the rest of us.”
Descendants from the Nevada City Rancheria will speak Saturday about their history, which dates back long before European settlers discovered what is now Nevada County and before the Gold rush that fostered the county's development.
“This is a group that has been here for thousands of years,” Kreshka said.
The Nisenan once had a 70-acre reservation, the Nevada City Rancheria, on what is now Cement Hill, created under the authority of President Woodrow Wilson. However, when the federal government stripped California's tribes of their federal federal status following the 1958 California Rancheria Act, the Nisenan lost their land in 1964, according to tribal leaders.
While all but four of California's previously terminated rancherias have regained their federally recognized status, the Nisenan are still fighting to restore their federal recognition. covert estimates the tribe has no more that 100 recognized members with another nearly as many pending confirmation.
“They were something of a hidden group that very much want to emerge and join with the college to present their story,”Kreshka said.
Hence this years' Heritage Day theme is “Rekindling the Spirit of Community”. the event is appropriate for all ages and families; children are encouraged to attend. Parking is free, so is admission. Lunch boxes from the BriarPatch Co-op will be available for purchase.
“Everything about this event is free,” Kreshka said.
“It is important for young children to have as positive and wonderful an experience with great diversity around them, and this program will provide that for those that goon Saturday.”
Nisenan Heritage Day will feature artisans weaving baskets, and mashing acorns, a traditional mainstay of the Nisenan diet.
“I think it will be very exciting,” Kreshaka said. “the plan is have it very interactive.”
There will also be discussions, demonstrations, merchandise, information booths, music and ceremonial dancers.
“some of those dancer are direct descendants of old Chief Kelly,” Covert previously told the Union. “that's huge that they can come here and dance on our homelands.”
Chief Louis “Laloak” Kelly was the Nisenan's last patriarch. He died in 1964.
Native america academic and professional speakers will give individual presentations as well as panel-style discussion about current events and topics of historical and cultural relevance. Local authors will be on hand to discuss their books and offer to sign books for sale.
“This is an event that most definitely has educational reach to our students,” said Stephanie Ortiz, excutive dean of Sierra College's Neavda County campus.
Anyone interested in Nisenan Heritage Day can call 530-570-0846 or visit www.nevadacityrancheria.org.
THE NEVADA COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY will present “American California and the Fate of the Nisenan,” a multimedia presentation by Shelly Covert of the Nevada City Nisenan Rancheria.
Richard Hurley and TJ Meekins, authors of the historical novel “Queen of the Northern Mines” also will attend.
The Foothill Nisenan, the indigenous people of Nevada County, lived at the epicenter of the Gold Rush. Through historical photos and eyewitness narratives, the show tells how the Nisenan way of life was destroyed and how the tribe was pushed to the edge of extinction.
The story of the Paiute Wars of 1860 and the death of Nevada City's favorite son, Henry Meridith, will be told from Paiute point of view.
Legendary Indian fighter General George Crook's first campaign in California will be seen through his eyes - and through those of Joaquin Miller, “The Poet of the Sierras,” who fought on both sides of the conflict. Covert will tell her tribe's story of survival and share photographs from family albums that the wider community has not yet seen.
The presentation begins at 7:00 pm at the Gold Miners Inn (Holiday Inn) on 121 Bank St. in Grass Valley and is free.
The historical society will return to its regular venue at the Makelyn Helling Library in Nevada City for its next meeting.
For information, visit: www.bearriverbooks.com/pages/events.html
Bill Haire and Stacey Konner stop to read a map while hiking the newly completed Environs Trail. As Bear Yuba Land Trusts Trails Coordinator, Haire worked with Sierra Streams Institute and many volunteers to construct the 1.5-mile loop trail. Soon the trail will connect with the existing Deer Creek Tribute Trail system with the addition of a footbridge later this year.
PHOTO BY LAURA BROWN
JUST A SHORT WALK FROM DOWNTOWN NEVADA CITY, a 1.5-mile newly completed forested loop trail offers a quiet getaway along the south side of Deer Creek.
Known for now as The Environs Trail - the route weaving through tall stands of incense cedars, black oaks and Douglas fir trees provides access to a 40-acre forest owned by Nevada City for more than 30 years.
“The Environs was previously little known and entirely inaccessible except by trespassing on private land,” said Jane Sellen, watershed coordinator for Sierra Streams Institute.
In 2009, Sierra Streams Institute began developing the trail with grant funds from Sierra Nevada Conservancy. American Hiking Society provided additional funding. Sierra Streams Institute worked with Trails Coordinator Bill Haire of Bear Yuba Land Trust and the help of many volunteers to construct the trail. On Saturday, June 1, Haire led a group tour of the trail during National Trails Day.
Five years in the making, the project includes a restoration and re-vegetation effort, education and outreach, and the development of interpretive signs.
The trail plays a key part of the larger Deer Creek Tribute Trail, envisioned as a nine-mile recreational trail that extends along both banks of Deer Creek and pays tribute to the overlooked people of the Gold Rush, said Sellen.
When the Nisenan footbridge is completed in the coming year, the Environs Trail will connect to the Deer Creek Tribute Trail on the north bank, she said.
“With The Sierra Fund's pending acquisition of creekside land next to the Environs on the other side of Providence Mine Road, we hope to extend the trail downstream and eventually connect to the loop trail on BLM land at Stocking Flat.
No longer will Nevada City's residents and visitors have to drive five miles to the pools and trails of the Yuba River. The Tribute Trail will introduce them to the hidden jewel at the heart of Nevada City - Deer Creek,” said Sellen.
The Environs Trails is dedicated to the Nisenan Tribe of the Nevada City Rancheria.
“The trail offers a chance for them to tell their story publicly for the very first time,” said Sellen.
Interpretive signs along the two-mile trail tell the story of the tribe's history, language and culture. In addition, hikers and bikers can glimpse traces of Nevada City's Gold Rush history.
Parts of the trail follow the century-old Rough and Ready ditch, an early irrigation canal used for transporting water for mining operations that later became part of Nevada Irrigation District.
“Stone masonry built by Chinese miners lines the approach to the trailhead on Jordan Street and the long-abandoned Providence Mine once stood just downhill from the trail,” said Sellen.
Sierra Streams Institute is cleaning up contamination at the mine site with grant funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
“Once the contamination is cleaned up and the area is safe for public use, the trail will provide access to the mine area,” Sellen said.
In addition, Sierra Streams Institute is restoring an erosive gully area. Native plant species are taking root and volunteers are clearing invasive non-native plant species.
The trail was a collaboration of many. Besides Sierra Streams Institute, Bear Yuba Land Trust, the City of Nevada City and the Nisenan tribe, a number of other individuals and organizations offered feedback and support including: Residents of Jordan Street, American Rivers, Bicyclists of Nevada County, Forest Trails Alliance, Greater Champion Neighborhood Association and The Sierra Fund.
Grass Valley Group provided a crucial easement, Audubon Society helped with monitoring, Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership participated in restoration days and students from local schools helped remove invasive weeds.
An official opening of the trail is planned in the fall.
“We are excited to be planning for the official opening in the fall and are already looking ahead to future education, outreach, monitoring and restoration projects along the trail,” Sellen said. ~~
Contact freelance writer Laura Brown at 401-4877 or email@example.com
BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF THE FIRST NON-NATIVES, the indigenous people living in what later became Nevada County had peacefully occupied the land for thousands of years. Scattered across the large area of the Yuba and Bear river watersheds were dozens of Nisenan villages or “rancherias,” each made up of extended family groups of different sizes.
A perception that Nevada County is a part of Maidu territory is inaccurate. The error is a common one, caused by the mistaken assumption that the term "Maidu" represents a single tribal unit. In fact, Maidu refers to a very large and diverse linguistic unit.
The Northern Maidu and the Nisenan are sub-groups of a parent Maiduan language stock, which in turn is part of a larger Penutian language group that includes Miwoks, Wintus, Yokuts, and others. And within the Nisenan and Northern Maidu were many individual groups speaking a variety of dialects-each as different as German is from Italian.
In the act of recording and preserving local history (indigenous and non-indigenous alike) the Nisenan portion has been overwritten and altered in the past two decades. Inaccuracies and misinformation have crept into the public discourse, examples of which can even be found in Nevada County newspapers, books and semigovernmental reports.* Fortunately, by moving back in time one can find factual and accurate information about the indigenous people who lived on these lands.Read the complete article and more by downloading the entire Nevada County Historical Society's October 2012 Bulletin as a 6-page PDF file here....>>