Celebrating California Native American Day—Topanga Style

Annemarie DonkinBy Annemarie Donkin

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Topangan Kat High celebrated the annual California Native American Day on Sept. 23 with an “open driveway” reception at her home on Entrada Road with Native American coloring pages, tastes of native nibbles and chia lemonade. A member of the Hupa people, Kat welcomed the community to the Little Free Library on her shady driveway and invited the neighborhood to pick up and read a selection of books featuring Native American stories, history and narratives by Native authors. Guests of honor were Chumash/Tataviam author Alan Salazar and illustrator Mona Lewis, who held a book signing for their two books “Tata ,the Tataviam Towhee: A Tribal Story” and “A Tataviam Creation Story,” written by Salazar and beautifully illustrated with natural earth colors by Mona Lewis. “Tataviam” means “people facing the sun. It is what our neighbors to the north, the Kitenemuk tribe, called us,” wrote Salazar, “Puchuk Ya’ia’c.” We, the Tataviam people, believe we have lived in Tataviam territory since time immemorial. The Santa Clarita Valley is the center of Tataviam territory—it is our heart. In order for tribal cultures to survive, we must sing new songs and tell new stories. This is my original creation story. I tell it in the spirit of my Tataviam ancestors.” “Tata, the Tataviam Towhee” is the first Tataviam story that is told and recorded by a Tataviam tribal elder and storyteller. Through his inquisitiveness, Tata, a small towhee bird teaches us a valuable lesson. He reminds us that our land will always have stories to tell. (Books available on Amazon). About California Native American Day. Started in 1939 by Governor Culbert Olson, “Indian Day” evolved into The California Native American Day in 1968 thanks to Governor Ronald Reagan and California tribal leaders. The Day is considered a time-honored tradition in the California Native American community. The event is hosted by the California Tribal Chairpersons Association. SAVE THE DATE! On Sunday, Oct. 16 from 11-4, Kat High will host a Gourd Making workshop for the holidays with Neshkinukat Master Artist Nadiya Littlewarrior. It’s a beginners’ class to find the spirit in your gourd and how to clean, decorate and enjoy a small gourd ornament or necklace. Open to 10 participants, ages 12 and up, first come, first served registration. Register at kiwenkikwe@yahoo.com. For more information on the Oct. 16 Holiday Gourd Workshop, contact Kat High at katcalls@aol.com.
Annemarie Donkin

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September 30, 2022