Indian Days: San Diego
1998, the California State Assembly enacted legislation creating Native
American Day as an official state holiday. All this state legislation
was before the National recognition of November as Native American month.
During those 29-30
years there were many enriching and educational experiences - like this
example from 2001 by this author.
The Kumeyaay Bird singers led by Ron Christman, Running Grunion (Abel Silvas), and the ever popular, Native Blues with Tracy Nelson, Harold Hill and the on time, on beat, drummer brought the Party on the Rez to the park and got down to business.
Of special note is
the very popular, large group of singers and dancers from the Northern
California Bay area, Grindstone Dancers (Pomo and Maidu) and the Roadrunner
Dancers and the Rumsen Ohlone led by Chief Tony Cerda and members of the
Costanoan Carmel Indian Tribe. These were crowd pleasers and very colorful
in their traditional regalia and body painting. This event offered an
opportunity to examine complexities of Music form and style not often
seen out of the traditional role of song presentation.
Christman, Tucuk singer, has been listening to local tribal songs for
all of his life. Ron's father sang variations of the Kumeyaay traditional
song styles. Following Ron's military service and during his long employment
as an Engineer by the California Department of Forestry, he sought out
tribal elders for instruction in singing these traditional Bird songs.
For the past thirty years Ron has often called upon to participate in
the custom and tradition of the local Kumeyaay people. He has been frequently
requested to speak to non-tribal groups and address civic and youth activities.
The Wildcat songs
were led by Juan Meza Cuero. He said in an interview, "I was born
in the Protero area, of San Diego County in 1939. Alfonso Meza, my Father,
started me singing when I was seven. He taught me the structure and presentation
of my first Wildcat songs. I have been singing this style of Tipai song
all my life. There are many other styles of Tipai song and there used
to be many more singers of Wildcat and other Tipai songs. I am very interested
in doing what I can to see these Nyemii, Gato, Wildcat songs continue
to be sung. I feel it is my role to teach these songs to the next generation
of our tribal youth. In this modern world I hope to bring
This year, 2012,
is again a terrific opportunity for all the citizens of California to
learn about our rich California Native American culture, and it is an
opportunity to teach children about the true nature of the early Native
California residents and languages. They are the peoples who were here
long before the Euro- Spanish or the Russians or the Anglo-American invasion.
Have a Native
American Feast - In California, September is mild barbecue weather,
so take the feast outdoors and enjoy the first days of autumn. Authentic
recipes, per se, might be difficult, but the first Californians had the
benefit of the bounty of our region just as we do, so eat what is local
and in season. Like the first native Californians, you will be considerate
of Mother Earth by keeping your dining choices local, or, better yet,
Cinon Duro (Hokoyel Mutaweer), Mesa Grande Ipai, years ago said: In the beginning, there was no form or shape. The Sky-Power Father and Earth Mother, Sinyohauch, gave issue to two sons: Tuchaipa, the first born, and Yokomatis, the younger. The brothers created man, the sun, the moon, and the stars. First, they sent the sky up by blowing tobacco into the air. The Creator, Tuchaipa, made hills and valleys, which had low places for water to pond up. He took mud from the ground and made the first man and first woman. The Indians were made first, then other people. The people walked to the east in darkness until he made light for them. Tuchaipa was poisoned by a frog, who was angry that he was made so ugly and that people were laughing at him. During the time he was dying, he taught people about their world. When he died, he departed through Pamu (in the mountain foothills of San Diego near Ramona) to San Diego Bay, went along the beach, and then into the water where he disappeared. As he stepped through the countryside, his footprints left impressions on the mountains and rocks. When he was thirsty, he marked a bowl-shaped area in a rock, and this filled with water. He left these marks, which are still there today, so that his children would see evidence that the Creator had been there and had traveled from the mountains to the ocean.
Diegueño ground paintings as including the native universe, including the sun, new and old moons, and celestial objects as well as landmarks, such as Santa Catalina Island, the Coronado Islands, San Bernardino Mountain, and the Cuyamaca peaks. Also observed in a ground painting is a rock in the ocean (Coronado Islands), Viejas Mountain, San Jacinto Mountain, a mountain east of Picacho Mountain, and other nearby locations. Depending on the village, different landmarks are shown in the painting, indicating highly localized and varied perceptions of the native landscape. All, however, include the ocean. The origin stories involve emergence from the ocean; one of the twins (see above) was blinded by the salt water. http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/ca/rpdi/img/pl24.jpg
made by Manuel Lachusa, an old man of Santa Ysabel. He had forgotten the
precise location of the milky way, sun, new moon, and old moon, so they
are omitted. He made no mention of toloache mortars.
Paul Cuero, Jr. further
said that the Lightning Songs describe geographical locations as seen
from the above perspective of the air, beginning in the northeastern desert
area (to the right of the San Bernadino Mountains), and moving south,
following the circle boundary. He recalled that one site the songs described
was the well-known tidal plume, La Bufadora, near Ensenada, Mexico. Other
coastal locations are mentioned, including Catalina Island. The songs
also describe social interactions with different groups. Unnamed tribes
living on the other side of the northern boundary are described in the
songs, and the Cahuilla are mentioned as living near to the San Bernardino
Mountains. Describing various kinds of interactions with the Cahuilla,
the songs descriptions ultimately return to the northeastern desert
area where they began, describing relationships with other desert Tribes
near the former Lake Cahuilla. Luiseno groups are not mentioned in the
Lightning Songs, and both San Jacinto and San Bernadino Mountain are north
of present-day Luiseno territory.
first Californians, California Native Americans were well aware of our
relationship with the land thousands of years ago. With the Earth Green
movement we are becoming aware of the delicate nature of our environment,
but this year take the time to think of your impact on the environment,
and how you can improve your relationship with our Mother the Earth. If
there is a single thing that we can learn from those early settlers, it
is how to live respectfully and considerately.