On Sunday, June 13, I attended an extraordinary symposium titled Come Home to Povuu’ngna, The Gabrielino-Tongva: The Changing Consant Identity of an Urban Native People in the morning and a huge cultural celebration in the afternoon at Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach, CA.
“The beating heart of our continent is an indigenous heart.” Opening speaker for the symposium was the renowned scholar and UCLA Professor Peter Nabokov. When I woke up this morning, I reread his chapter, “Beyond the Goddess,” in Where the Lightning Strikes, The Lives of American Indian Sacred Places, where Nabokov credits UCLA graduate student Cindi Alvitre, a panel participant and one of the major organizers of yesterday’s events, as the person responsible for helping him understand the “shadow geography,” or the sometimes invisible but always present Indian geography of Los Angeles.
With the backdrop of the current ecological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, Cindi wisely councils us to look to indigenous sensibilities about the land itself, the heart of the indigenous universe.
After the symposium, I attended the afternoon events with Abe Sanchez, Marian Walkingstick, and her daughter, Star Walkingstick-Brimer. The top photograph is Abe’s native foods tasting table.
Abe showed his baskets and basktry materials as well. Above are a deergrass bundle, a circular split Rhus trilobata bundle to the left, dyed and split Juncus textilis to the right, and yucca fibers in the rear.
Close-ups of Rhus trilobata and Juncus textilis bundles.
Oscar Ortiz had a wildly popular hands-on table to demonstrate native toys and games, including native California walnut shells carved and inlaid with abalone shell.
A close up of the beautiful interior of an abalone shell.
This photograph of native California walnuts was actually taken earlier at a food processing workshop hosted by Lori Sisquoc and Barbara Drake. You can see how the abalone inlay has replaced the walnut meat. I’ve uploaded images of Lori in an earlier post here, and of Barbara Drake here. At yesterday’s event, Lori displayed many of the important edible and medicinal native plants on her ethnobotany table.
Heidi Perez demonstrated the use of seashells by island and coastal communities. She makes extraordinary shell necklaces and is a talented basket weaver as well.