Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Meet the Serrano sports reporter

and also Serrano culture bearer and Learning Center leader, Ernest Siva ...
When: Wednesday, noon to 2 p.m.
Where: Mt. San Jacinto College Menifee campus
Room 927
Open to all
Learn more here.

Your Serrano Sports Reporter

Mit Pernat…Hamukpii..
Maybe it’s Nothing… Then again..

Chenyuu Troynu’yam hakupim nyipkin ama’ chekayshu’ ater’ac’, Chenem. (Chenyuu Neerht.)
Our Trojans really beat our big rival, Notre Dame. (Our Lady.)

Weerr taaqtam kwenevu’ petaqaym ah’av: “Ivi’ terxpich mit qay hiit cherrupuk.” “ Mit pernat, “ keym huwam. Pana’m werraverran’. Nypkinich qay’ anowpa’.
Many people were saying to each other: “This game isn’t important.” “It seems inconsequential,” others said. That’s the way they were talking. Winning was a given.

Hamukpii. Atahtermerav, pavaypa’ howpk kayshu’ ataq perckin, ama’ huwac kayshu’, kwan nypkin inach. Nowk nowva’ hihiin. Qay hawayt pana’ mih, werrenk hohowpki.
Then again, over the years, when one rival puffs himself up, the other wins decidedly. I have seen this with my own eyes. It doesn’t always go that way, but once in a while it does.

Amatunga’ mehuun turrux keym taaqtam nahtavuniniam’. Inachich peyika’m chamaqan.
Therefore, focus, the coaches in charge say. Respect them (your rivals).

Yengk, aam torxpi’iam huna’ puh’pa’m erva’ kwa’m hawayt nypk huwamii. Pana’ mih tengk.
Of course, those players who are stronger should always win. That’s how it goes.

Nahtavuniac Carroll puyuu enan. Chamaqan hawayt puyuu tum hiitii. Kwan kece yawamin: Kwac hingyaen’ pam erva’yam terxpi’iam teh’tu’, qwaxkim waha’ tum hinyim haym, amatunga’ kwa’ huna’ a’ay nyiiv.
Coach Carrol is wise. He is always thinking. He believed that if you let the stronger (best) players play, the younger players, whoever they may be, then the result will be better.

Enanaych shevek, qay mermerher’ tum hiitii nyi’hay. Qayngmuksh, petaqim nangani’ame natu’, puyu’ayeepatii. Pe’wi’m nyahay anin puyaka’ wayax pam terxpi’yam ervra’yam. Pwiichu’ yam tewanim. Pana’ mih hawayt. Mit pernac, hamupii…
We know however, it isn’t done haphazardly. Painstakenly, they compete, and their skills and abilities are compared with others. This is done carefully and finally the best players emerge. The starters are named. That’s how it goes all the time. Maybe it’s nothing, but again…

Ichaamcvu’ hihii waha’ pam yuu’niniam. Hakupve’m puchuk a’ay. Teyt Troynu’ muchanich terwan’t hawayt yanaam. Hamukpi’, iim huwam, Irish Namiam Yuu’niniam, aux kimaym puyaka’. Qaymu’ haypan’ iip pichii. Hakupve’ a’ay hyuuntwich. Pe’wi’ yuu’ninimvu’ waha’. Taaqtam paxanimvu’ amaym inach penemin. Peemav hakupim parkar’ parkar’. Pat a’ay.
We also saw the bands. They were excellent. The Spirit of Troy is always awesome. But, then again these others, the Fighting Irish Band finally showed up. They’ve never been here before! It was great to see them! They played fine also. The host fans were overtly appreciative. They applauded enthusiastically. That is good!

Hamingnyawnk iim yuu’niniamvu’ hakup a’ay? Enanayt? Penahtavuniniac kwan Troynu! Hwityaku! Naam Huuna’ Mit pernat. hamukpii…
Why are these musicians so good? Do you know? Their Director is a Trojan! Hurray! Fight On! Maybe it’s nothing. Then again….

Ernest Siva

Saturday, November 22, 2008

In the News

This week's Banning-Beaumont Record Gazette includes a community profile about Dorothy Ramon Learning Center. Read it here.
Or here:
Community profile: Dorothy Ramon Learning Center
By Pat Murkland
People once called Banning “The Center.” The word in Serrano was Ahunika'. When people had a need, they would go to The Center. In that spirit, Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, Inc. is transforming a building in the heart of downtown Banning into a Center featuring the Native American cultures and arts of Southern California.

Since 2003 the 501(c)(3) nonprofit public service corporation and its publishing arm, Ushkana Press, have been partnering with tribal nations, museums, schools of all levels, and community groups to save and share Southern California's Indian cultures, languages, history, and music and other traditional arts. The Learning Center works with tribal nations to revive and restore these endangered cultures and languages, and also works with the greater public to share an integral part of America's national heritage.

The Learning Center has now found its future home in a building at the corner of San Gorgonio Avenue and Hays Street, in the center of Banning's fledgling Arts District.

To become a Center, the building needs major restoration work. Under plans submitted to the City of Banning, the interior walls of four separate storefronts would disappear. The building itself would expand both up and out.

Inside, the building will include amenities such as a gathering hall and exhibit area; a children's center; a library; a kitchen; a recording studio and listening area; and a Native Arts gift shop. Outside, two neighboring lots will become a parking and gathering area surrounded by an educational garden of native plants. Altogether the Center will be more than 6,000 square feet.

While the architectural plans hurdle through City Hall and the non-profit fund-raising has begun, the building already is growing into a Center. Workshops, lectures, and classes in the cramped, current space and on the sidewalk outside already have drawn eager crowds of all ages and from all races and walks of life. The activities also show what's to come.

For example, instead of merely looking at a group of traditional musical instruments in a display case, people can connect personally. At the 2008 spring Art Hop, a crowd learned from knowledgable culture bearers about clappersticks, flutes, rattles, and other first Southern California music instruments, and their appropriate use. They trekked beyond merely holding the instruments; they learned how to make them, how to play them, and how to respect their place in native cultures.

More recently, at On Board for Stagecoach Days in October, people visited a replica ancient Southern California Indian village and explored first-hand how the First People lived.

That's because the Learning Center is not going to be a museum. It will be a regional Center where the past and present meet; where both Indians and non-Indians alike come to save and share the living cultures of Southern California's First People. Dorothy Ramon Learning Center is working to invite the people of Southern California's diverse Indian nations to the Center to tell their own stories, in their own words and songs.

To make it all happen, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit is raising money in a capital campaign, but also seeking the energy and enthusiasm of people who will attend programs, join the nonprofit community of volunteers or offer other kinds of support. For more information, visit www.dorothyramon.org, and check this nonprofit blog for news.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Serrano Bighorn Songs at Banning High

You're invited to Native American Cultural Night.
The details:
Who and what:
Singers, storytellers, workshops, frybread, family fun
Special event: Ernest Siva and his apprentice Isaac Horsman Rodriguez, a Banning High senior, will sing some Serrano bighorn sheep songs. Learn more about our project to save the songs here.
When and where:
5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20
Banning High School auditorium, 100 W. Westward Ave., Banning, CA
This event is FREE.
Co-sponsors: Banning Unified School District and Dorothy Ramon Learning Center.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Making and Playing Elderberry Flutes

Southern California Indian men of all nations made and played wooden flutes in traditional times. 
We're exploring how to make flutes similar to those that once mingled their voices with the nighttime winds, skies, and stars of ancient California. 
Some detective work has included tracking down old flutes in museums and studying them in detail. Flutemakers Marvin and Jonette Yazzie made replicas of several early 1900s Diegueño flutes in Riverside Metropolitan Museum's collection.
Our adventures continued with Saturday's workshop, led by the Yazzies. 
The star of the day was our local elderberry.

Pick Your Own Flute
While some places offer you the opportunity to pick your own fruit, our flutemakers literally picked their own flute. That is, they chose their own elderberry wood, plentiful in the back yard of our hosts, the Sivas. The flutes-to-be were about a foot or so long*. They were at least one inch wide. Some chose already weathered and seasoned fallen wood. Others chose green. We shall compare how these choices fare. 

To Begin
Since ancient times, elder has been a mystical and music-making shrub around the globe, providing good flutes wherever it is found ...
Once you hollow out the pith, the elder's equivalent of marrow, that is. 
Anthropologist Jan Timbrook, in her 2007 book, Chumash Ethnobotany: Plant Knowledge Among the Chumash People of Southern California, describes how toyon sticks became sharp tools for drilling out the pith from the heart of elderberry.
We had modern tools, however.
We also had in our participants the equivalent of a precision drill team.

Making the Flute
Timbrook shares what anthropologist J.P. Harrington learned from his Chumash informant Fernando Librado about preparing, drilling, and curing the flute-to-be: 

"The shoot was roasted in a pile of embers with sandy dirt placed at each end to reduce respiration. After "sweating" the stick in this way, the flutemaker extracted the narrow pith with a reaming rod of toyon (Heteromeles) that had been straightened with a grooved stone. He inserted the rod into the elder stem repeatedly, twisting and pulling it out frequently. Then he dried the shoot for two or three days before removing the bark. He would typically drill four, or possibly six, fingering holes into it and paint the flute or decorate it with inlay of carrizo and shell." (p. 196)

(We didn't roast the green sticks, and we didn't wait a few days for them to dry out, either. We'll see what happens. Maybe we'll figure out a way to sweat the sticks in our next go-around.)

Hand Made
With the modern tools, the drilling of the elder flutes went quickly enough. But some folks had better luck with sharp hardwood sticks. Each flute was measured to its player's hands. The holes or stops were drilled accordingly.  The size of the holes and the thickness of the wood between the holes do matter; over time we shall explore the possibilities. 
People sanded their flutes and soon, the sticks of early morning were flutes of the afternoon.

Now, To Play Them.
Easier said than done!
These flutes are open-ended. To even the best flute player, they seem a challenge. Some achieve success in playing the flute at a diagonal angle. Witness Antonio Flores, who makes the smaller wooden Pomo-style flutes from weathered, downed elder:
Larry Parks photo

Ernest Siva doesn't play these flutes at a diagonal angle. He holds them straight and then blows gently, finding and connecting with the flute's voice almost intuitively.
It was fascinating to watch him take every flute from its maker and then find the flute's voice.
It was even more fascinating to hear the variety of music found in just one elderberry bush.
Some flutes were low, others high.
The music defies description, forcing one into cliches such as haunting and mystical.
Ernest Siva suggested that being still and relaxed, such as in late night or in early morning, helps one find a flute's voice.** It seems these elderberry flutes are powered more by the soul than by the lungs.
Most people were able to find sound in their new flute.

What's next
Some collected more elderberry to experiment more with these replicas of traditional Southern California Native American wooden flutes. We're planning to continue our methodical study of flutes found in museum collections. Sadly, these flutes cannot share their most important knowledge: their music. Because in early museum days they often were doused with arsenic and other poisons to protect them from bug infestations, today they must remain unplayed and mute. — P.M.

UPDATE, Nov. 18:
*Corrected the description of length of flutes to reflect that they were made according to each individual's body measurements, starting from the person's elbow. 
** Ernest credits this advice to flutemaker and player Jim French. — P.M.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Great Elderberry Flutes

A great day in the Canyon.
A great turnout for the Elderberry Flute Workshop.
Lots of great elderberry wood, seasoned by weather, wind, and time.
Lots of great food for the hungry flutemakers, too.
In a word, this workshop (ongoing as we post this) is great!

The Yazzies help a flute maker. Pat Murkland photo.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Elderberry Flute Workshop

Master flute-makers Marvin and Jonette Yazzie will lead you as you make a traditional-style flute like those made and played by Indian nations in all parts of California.
The Yazzies will provide the materials and instruction.
The details
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, November 15
Where: A workshop in a beautiful canyon near Banning
Information, reservations, directions:
Call 951.849.4676 (before 7 p.m. PST)
E-mail info@yazzieflutes.com
E-mail info@dorothyramon.org
Cost: $25

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Visit With an Elder

Photo by Pat Murkland
Thank you to all who came! Thank you to Pauline "Dimples" Murillo for sharing cultural memories and lots of laughs in a sparkling and joy-filled evening. 
Don't miss her upcoming basket exhibit at Cal State San Bernardino! 
And watch for more Dragonfly Lectures at The Center.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More on Pauline Murillo

Columnist Michel Nolan wrote in the Daily Bulletin and San Bernardino Sun about Pauline Murillo's work to save and share American Indian cultures: Read here.
And Mrs. Murillo's incredible basket collection will be on public display next week at Cal State San Bernardino!
The details:
WHAT: Pauline Murillo Basket Exhibit - traditional baskets of tribal people
WHEN: Oct. 29-31 - Lecture and viewing of exhibit of about 30 intricate baskets,
6 p.m. Oct. 29; lecture/viewing, noon and 6 p.m. Oct. 30; lecture/viewing, noon Oct. 31
WHERE: Santos Manuel Student Union, Cal State San Bernardino
COST: Free
INFORMATION: Cross Cultural Center, (909) 537-7204

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pauline Murillo at the Center

Our next exciting event is a Dragonfly Lecture with special guest Pauline "Dimples" Murillo.
This respected Cahuilla-Serrano Indian elder from San Manuel Reservation has written two books that share her Native American experience while growing up on the reservation ... along with hundreds of rare photos. 
Click here to view a gallery of photos from Mrs. Murillo's books, Growing Up In Two Worlds, and We Are Still Here, Alive and in Spirit.
A session with Pauline Murillo is filled with wonderful insights and cultural memories, and lots of laughter, too. She is a great storyteller! Don't miss our next Dragonfly Lecture.
The details:
When: Monday, Oct. 20, starting at 6 p.m.
Where: Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, 17 W. Hays, Banning, CA 92220.
It's FREEEEEE! Please join us.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

And The Winner Is ...

Dorothy Ramon Learning Center won the Grand Prize this year in the Banning Stagecoach Days Merchant Spirit Contest ...
The theme was "Old West" and our exhibits, including the replica Indian Village led by Jacque Nunez, offered the theme, "The Really Old West."
We're thrilled to receive this recognition for our hands-on exhibits that save and share our Southern California Indian cultures.
Last year, the first year we entered, we won first place in the small merchants' category for our window displays, a historic exhibit on Indian cowboys.
Here June and Ernest Siva display our prize plaque from the contest sponsors, led by the Banning Cultural Alliance.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What's Next: Flutes and More Flutes

This Saturday, Oct. 11, the Inland Empire Flute Circle will meet at 1 p.m. at Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, 17 W. Hays, Banning, CA. These folks love to make and play Native American wooden flutes, and they love to talk about flutes and share their flutes and their music with each other. If you're interested in flutes, you're welcome.
The Yazzies, for example, will show their new flutes inspired by Dorothy Ramon Learning Center's work to save the Serrano bighorn sheep songs. (See the video of Ernest Siva playing the beautiful flute they gave to him.)
Flutes Revisited
We were very fortunate to host the return of Antonio Flores on Sept. 27 during the "On Board for Stagecoach Days" event. He drove down from Oakland to Banning during the night, stopped by his favorite canyon to find some downed and dead (properly seasoned) elder wood, and then arrived at the workshop promptly at 10 a.m. Immediately, Antonio was mobbed by an eager crowd of all ages, wanting to learn how to make and play a Pomo-style flute.
Here is a slideshow (no audio, you'll have to play your own flute to accompany this) of some of the excitement:
Hours after the event was over, Antonio and his flute-makers were still at it, still making flutes! We thank him for instilling everyone with the excitement of American Indian flutes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Where we've been

Photo by Pat Murkland
Saving and sharing Southern California's First Cultures happens 24/7!
It's been a very busy time:
The compelling artwork of Billy Soza Warsoldier was on the conference poster.

We always find this conference to be inspiring and this year's offering was no exception. 
Our board member, San Manuel Chairman James Ramos, delivered a thoughtful keynote address.
There's More!
  • We had fun sharing with families crowding the Sept. 27 downtown Banning event, "On Board for Stagecoach Days." The theme was "The Old West," and we offered a slight twist: exhibits and displays on "The Really Old West." 
A big hit was the replica Indian village and storytelling offered by Journeys to the Past, led by Jacque Nunez, Acjachemen. We thank Jacque for everything she does.

Here is talented artist and faithful supporter Lisa Patencio doing a video with her family members in the Village.
Photo by Pat Murkland

And here is Lisa's video, which also features our newest board member, her husband, Moraino Patencio. We thank them for their support!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Flutes in the Village

Flutemakers Marvin and Jonette Yazzie honored Ernest Siva by presenting him with a special flute. It is made of alder and has a bighorn totem, in homage of Ernest's work in saving and sharing the Serrano bighorn sheep songs. Ernest is possibly the only person singing these songs right now. He is teaching the songs to his grand-nephew Isaac. We have received two grants to help in this work. Read more about it here.
We thank talented artist Lisa Patencio for this YouTube video:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Come learn about rock shelters

You're invited!
It's a free mini Dragonfly Lecture!
Britt Wilson will tell about Prehistoric Rock Shelters of the San Gorgonio Pass on Monday (Sept. 22) starting at 6 p.m.  at 17 W. Hays St., Banning.
He has an interesting talk planned and photos to share.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2008 Dragonfly Gala

Tasting acorn served by Barbara Drake (Carlos Puma Photo)
The Dragonfly Gala was a wonderful gathering of our community working to save and share Southern California's American Indian cultures, languages, history, and arts.
Click here to view 51 photos from the San Bernardino Sun and here to read the article in the San Bernardino Sun and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
More to come on all the exciting happenings at the gala!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Feeding the People (& Caring for Them)

That's this 5th Dragonfly Gala silent auction item, from Leslie J. Mouriquand:
"Mesquite Cookies and Pinyon Sap Soap" Gift Basket, 
  • Pinyon Sap Soap
  • Honey Soap
  • Rosebud Salve
  • Pinyon Pine Incense Cones
  • Skin softener in shell container
  • Wild-crafted Mesquite Meal
  • Homemade Mesquite Cookies
  • Cactus Tenders
  • Mountain Sage Blossom Honey
  • Chia Seed
  • Yucca Seed
  • Desert Willow seed (for planting)
  • Wild Plum seed (for planting)
  • Screwbean mesquite seed (for planting)
  • Dried cholla blossoms
  • Dried spearmint leaves ...
On and on and on the list goes! Amazing! 
Leslie, an archaeologist who preserves and promotes traditional Cahuilla knowledge and plant uses, also plans to include an article she wrote on this very topic for the Coachella Valley Archaeological Society newsletter. Don't miss out on our Silent Auction or on the Gala this coming weekend. Still time to make a last-minute reservation, but time is running out. Click here for details.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Spectacular = Gala Silent Auction

A few items you'll see at our Dragonfly Gala Silent Auction:

1. Quilt by Serena Taylor (50 by 70 inches)
Fantastic needlework and detail is not done justice in this photo.

2. Navajo Kachina (collector's item)

3. Gourd ornaments

4. Basket with Snake by Artist Eva Salazar (Kumeyaay)

5. Extra-Large Native American pot from Arizona

6. Detail, front of pot

7. Small pot with painted bird singers and dancers

8. Navajo doll with velvet dress, 
turquoise necklace and earrings

Don't miss out! More items are being donated daily. 
RSVP for the Gala today: siva@dishmail.net
When: Saturday, Aug 9, 4 to 8 p.m.
Where: Morongo Community Center, Morongo Reservation
WHAT: 5th Annual Dragonfly Gala
Highlights: Roast beef dinner; tasting and demonstrations of traditional foods; silent auction; traditional songs and dances; Dragonfly Award
What you'll accomplish: You'll help the nonprofit Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, Inc., save and share Southern California's endangered Native American cultures, languages, history, and traditional arts — all essential to our national heritage. Join our community, working together!
Tickets: $45 individuals, with opportunities to sponsor $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 tables.
We thank our Gala Sponsor, San Manuel Band.
And we thank Barona Band for their support.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Not Silent about the Silent Auction

The Dragonfly Gala fast approaches. It's Aug. 9!
Our Silent Auction has been described in the past as "epic" by News from Native California. That was when the auction was SMALLER!
This year, we already have dozens of beautiful items and many more on the way in. Here are a few:
  • Native American flutes.
  • Gourd artwork.
  • Quilts handmade by Native American artists.
  • Pottery, pottery, pottery.
  • Jewelry.
  • Baskets!
From a past gala (2005), here is a pot by Tony Soares that incited a lively bidding war:
Douglas Park Photo
This year, we are thankful to Mr. Soares for donating more of his stunning art in clay.
Don't miss the Silent Auction at the 2008 Dragonfly Gala!
Let us know by Aug. 1 if you're coming!
— PM

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pivii'pivii'yam (baby quail)

I forgot to mention our little friends, Pivii'pivii'yam or baby quails, who are so cute in their fast movements, running or flying. They remind me of hangam (bees), especially when the quail (kakata'yam, adult quail) are just out and about. We've been seeing them cross the road. - ES

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Traditional foods at the Gala

Our Dragonfly Gala will have a theme of "Feeding the People."
  • Eat a delicious dinner!
  • See displays and demonstrations featuring foods such as mesquite, acorn, cherries, and much more. To whet your gala appetite about traditional foods, click here to visit Pechanga Reservation's excellent online cultural resources guide about Luiseño foods.
  • Enjoy bird singing and other traditional music.
  • Bid in our famed silent auction. Example of what you can buy.
  • Honor the winner of the 2008 Dragonfly Award!
Gala details: 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 9
Morongo Community Center, 
13000 Fields Rd., Morongo Reservation.
$45 individual; 
$1,000, $2,000, or $3,000 tables.
E-mail info@dorothyramon.org  to reserve your spot.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Honors for Culture Bearers

Photo by Douglas Park
Ernest Siva, president of Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, has been honored with a statewide award for his work in saving and sharing Southern California's American Indian cultures, languages, history, music, and other traditional arts.

In ceremonies this morning at the ninth annual "For All My Relations: Conference for Indian Families," the California Indian Museum & Cultural Center gave Mr. Siva the inaugural "Cultural Guardian" award. 

Further, San Manuel chairman James Ramos, also a charter member of the Board of Directors of Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, was honored with a "Leadership in Action" award at the same ceremony!

(James is pictured here cooking yucca blossoms at San Manuel's annual yucca harvest. Photo by Pat Murkland.)

Our friend William Madrigal received an "Emerging Leader" award.

The Museum Board said: "We congratulate and commend the hard work and dedication of these gentlemen as they pursue their goals in the advancement and safeguarding of California tribal families, communities, histories, and cultures."

Congratulations! — P.M.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Flutes on the Hill

Idyllwild Arts offers a full schedule of Native American Arts classes again this year during the weeklong Native American Arts Festival.
We'll be there! Ernest H. Siva, Dorothy Ramon Learning Center's founder and president, will be again teaching Native American Flute Making with Marvin and Jonette Yazzie

This class inspired Ushkana Press, our nonprofit publishing arm, to publish our first work in 2004, the book and CD set, Voices of the Flute.

The 3-day flute-making class is a lot of fun. This year it's July 10-13. Students often return to take the class again and again. Each student makes and decorates a beautiful six-holed flute with the talented Yazzies. Ernest Siva teaches the basics of flute playing and students get a copy of Voices of the Flute. For those of you who missed the flute-making workshop that Dorothy Ramon Learning Center offered at the Art Hop, now's your chance! — PM

Scenes from one of our flute-making workshops:

(Pat Murkland Photos, copyright Ushkana Press)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Making Flutes with Antonio

Traditional flute arts at the Art Hop (Pat Murkland Photo)

At the Art Hop in Banning, Antonio Flores was AGAIN mobbed by people of all ages and races who wanted to learn  how to make and play a traditional American Indian flute.

Antonio has that effect on people when he teaches how to make and play the Pomo-style flutes from elderberry wood. He has traveled several times from Oakland to Banning to help Dorothy Ramon Learning Center share the joys of traditional flutes. Each time, a crowd quickly gathers, and soon, everyone is exploring the excitement.

I listened in while he explained to a flute-maker how to measure and make the flute holes:
"I call it Hand Mathematics," he said.
"The length of the flute is measured by your hand. 
Then you use the hand and your fingers to decide where to put the holes.
It's how you'll play the flute.
If you keep your holes off center, you can have two different instruments."
At that point he picked up a flute and played it, then turned it upside down, and played it again.
"See? That will give you two voices on that one flute."

Antonio Flores plays one of his elderberry flutes. (Pat Murkland Photo)

We thank Antonio for sharing the wonders of flute music with everyone! — P.M.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pa'rra'kwit (Poorwill)

Pa'rra'kwim pichiim. The poorwills arrived. Actually, we've seen them earlier in the year and then they were absent. Usually, early in the evening and in the morning before sun rise one can see them on the road. Be careful not to drive too fast, or else you could hit one. They wait until the last minute to fly up. On the Morongo Reservation I used to see and hear them, but didn't know what they were. It's nice to have summer arrive accompanied by pa'rra'kwit. - ES

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cheehun Hitii Hitii'n

Cheehun hitii hitii'n shevek! We are happy indeed! Last Sunday we journeyed to Goleta, California. This was the site of our grandniece's graduation from the University of California, Santa Barbara. It was just yesterday, so it seems that Rachel was graduating from Banning High, which I missed. Then, they described to me her display of the special slogan, Wayta' Yawa' on her gown. This is especially meaningful to those of us who are preoccupied with keeping traditional ideas alive in the use of our language. I was mildly surprised to learn that at that time and we reminisced about that as we witnessed this graduation.The juxtaposition of the old with the new fits so well with defining us as Maarrenga'yam. (Morongos) It seems such a natural thing to do now.

Our folks did such a great job of planting the seeds of the desire for pursuing higher education while keeping our heritage in our hearts. We are presently working on our other nieces and nephews. Maybe, there is a Trojan lurking there! Or, even a Hunat (Bruin) will do. - ES

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Not Being Silent about the Silent Auction

An enormous, fabulous art gourd waiting for you on Aug. 9.

Every year, the Silent Auction at our Dragonfly Gala grows bigger and bigger.

Mind you, in 2006, Malcolm Margolin already had called the auction "epic" in News from Native California magazine. He pointed out that the auction offered top Native American art and many beautifully themed items.
Last year, the auction got sooo big we nearly ran out of space to put everything.
This year, we're talking even bigger and better.

Check out this fabulous gourd art by Idyllwild artist Roberta Corbin:

She calls them "Glorious Gourds." This one is so big it may need its own display table at the Gala!
The lid opens for you to include your treasures inside.

If you come to the Gala and bid at the auction, this can be yours. You'll help an important cause!

The proceeds go directly to our 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, Dorothy Ramon Learning Center.
And the money we raise goes directly to work, saving and sharing Southern California's endangered American Indian cultures, languages, history, and traditional arts.

The Gala is Aug. 9 at Morongo Community Center. The theme this year is "Feeding the People." Watch for more details. — PM

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Teerhich (Proverb)

 Cousin Marigold just sent me a generic sounding proverb. She wanted me to "Serranoize" it. So, to comply with her request I first put my version into English:

Tell me, and I might remember
Show me, but I might forget
Include me, and it is truly ours forever

And, the Serrano:

Ney kuchii teer, mit nehun yawq
Neychii ayn, mitan omik shevek
Werhanich tach nyiiv, ame pat mumk chenyu perrax atahtamerav

Any of our students or friends may want to offer a better or different rendition. Feel free to.
 - ES

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Herngt (Rattlesnake)

I was telling June, my wife, to start being on the alert when we go out to feed our longhorns and horses, since there are reports of rattlesnake encounters in the news almost daily. And people getting bitten, of all things! There is no good reason for anyone to get bitten by a snake except by sheer carelessness. Some people bother them and suffer the consequences. Our folks used to say, "Menarfpa' hye'." ("Watch your feet.") That is be careful where you step.

Yesterday, the propane guy came to deliver us some fuel. I saw him do a quick tell-tale jump. Not bad for a big guy! Sure enough there was herngt (rattlesnake) rattling away. I told the gas guy that he wouldn't be bothered by the snake if he just kept his distance. It worked out fine. The gas guy left and so did herngt. - ES

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Puuhit without Wahii'

This morning Puuhit (Roadrunner, also known as Geococcyx californianus) was perched atop my chainlink fence here in the Canyon. He was gazing back and forth in a very businesslike manner. He definitely was on the lookout! 
But I saw absolutely no signs of Wahii' (Wil E. Coyote). 
The real-life, non-cartoon Puuhit was hunting. 
Roadrunners have a great appetite for all kinds of rodents, insects, reptiles, you name it. And they are a joy to see — most of the time.
As Dorothy Ramon told the tale, "'Ama' mit hamin nyaawnk 'ama' 'emeva' kwa' hii'nk, 'emehpa' mesheheve' penek. 'Ami' hakup me'aaye' puuyu' kurruhk, keym waha'ki' puuhit."
("If one of them flies over you, if one passes over your head, your hair falls out; that's what they say about the roadrunner.") (Ramon and Elliott, 2002)

Hmmn. In this copyrighted photo courtesy of  Dr. Paul Kosnik, it looks as though one Puhyet never flies over another Puhyet. — PM

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Feeding the People

The theme of our Dragonfly Gala this year is "Feeding the People." We will celebrate those who are essential to all cultural traditional ceremonies and events: the cooks who feed the people. We also will explore the cultural meanings and the sacred duties that are behind the hundreds of years of "Feeding the People."
Gerald Clarke Jr. has again graciously donated his artwork to Dorothy Ramon Learning Center for our Gala invitations:
By Gerald Clarke, Jr. Copyright Ushkana Press 2008

Can you name the four important plant foods in the illustration?
The Gala will showcase these plants and more. That's because the Gala is more than a fund-raiser. It's an EVENT.
We'll have demonstrations, booths, and displays featuring native foods that even now, Feed the People. We'll have traditional singing and dancing. Of course eating will be a big part of the event, too! 
Mark Aug. 9, Morongo Community Center, on your calendar and join the crowd (last year we hosted about 400 people).
Each year we give out a Dragonfly Award for high-soaring achievements in saving and sharing cultures.
And our silent auction has gained fame statewide as one of the premier auctions offering Native American art. Watch this blog for some of the auction items!
Keep watching here and on our Center website for more details! — PM

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mary Had A Little Lambda

Following up on "How Is Your Spelling", an earlier post, I thought that an example was in order.
One of the strange looking characters in the International Phonetic Alphabet, the lambda, is one of the symbols I decided to replace in our orthography. In "A Dried Coyote's Tail", Saubel and Elliott, (2004) the double L (ll) is used for this sound. There isn't an equivalent sound in English, but it can be approximated by saying million and holding the ll's while hissing. The words weyllt (dish), tipill (drip), tayullkin (to iron or press) are a few words in Serrano employing this sound.
Still having fun? - ES

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How's your spelling?

How's your spelling? One of the problems encountered by writers in our language is deciding on whose orthography to use. Each linguist tends to have his own way of writing our language and on each reservation there probably are several ways that are in use by individuals as well. Some, such as San Manuel, have adopted one through discussions in committee. We at the DRLC have been using the system used in "Wayta' Yawa' ", Ramon and Elliott (2002), with slight modifications.

There are many problems in choosing an orthography that suits everyone. One of the main considerations is the user-friendly aspect. How strange or difficult does it look on the page? If there are too many extra characters involved in making a sound, it tends to discourage usage. I am of the opinion that, the simpler the better. Through usage we know when an "e" is pronounced as in yet or as in emi' (you) which I used to spell, umi'.

Confusing? Come to our class, which is held every 1st and 3rd Mondays at 17 W. Hays ST. in Banning, CA., and we can discuss it. - ES

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Say It Again

Keh hamuk. (Say it again.)

That important command is missing today for most people wanting to learn a language, like Serrano. The speakers are just a few individuals who can oblige that request. Our hats are off to those hard working pioneers, linguists and ethnographers who were able to obtain words, sounds and phonemes of our languages from an earlier era. Recordings of these languages are treasured whenever they are found.

Today, we must make our own recordings for educational purposes in general. It seems to me there will be a time when interest in hearing our language will be high. There is written material, but the need for sound recordings of this material is needed.

My plan is to do some recording to accompany the written word. - ES

Friday, May 30, 2008

Serrano Language

"Wechqarhqi'! Qay't enan hiitiit meqweyktii?" This something one might say to a child or someone who may not be paying attention to what he or she is eating: "That's awful! Don't you know what you're eating?" Let's hope it wasn't too bad. A student emailed me with a slightly different rendering of the language, wondering if she had said it right: " Aaargh! Wechqarhki! Qaym enan hittit rraaqwaym?" Which means: "Aaargh! (English) They, or you pl., don't know what food is..?" Maybe, it should be: "Qaym enan peerrawqwii". "They don't know their food." So goes the discussion of our language. Fun and interesting to some and... perhaps not too intriguing to others.

Above, the difference is: Qwa'(transitive) and rrawq (intransitive). Aapim qwa'ii hiitii. They are eating something there. And, aapim rrawq. They are eating there. - ES
Ps. Any questions? Or, corrections?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Plans and Dreams for a Center

Last year we acquired a building that will, one day, be a physical location for the Learning Center, our Ahunika'. We just learned from our architect that plans are complete and will be submitted to the City of Banning next week! The building requires major remodeling to meet our needs, and it will be expensive. It will include a gathering hall for major events, a reference library and archive, a recording studio for recording music and oral histories, a classroom, a children's center, a botanical garden featuring our native plants, and more. We look forward to what we'll be able to do once we have this wonderful space. It is located in downtown Banning in the Center of the Arts District, the Center of town. From this Center we'll reach out to the entire southern California community! Now, all we have to do is raise the money to accomplish it. - JS

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hot Water

Hamintamc; My wife and I visit Herqaniv (the Spa in Palm Springs) at least three times a week. The Cahuilla call it Pal Sexii. It was extremely important to the people of the southland long ago, as long as I can remember. Especially, if a person needed some help in healing this was a regular thing to do. The keeper of this special place, spiritually, was Pedro Chino. He was a great leader of Cahuilla. His village was where Chino Canyon is today. People know it as the Palm Springs Tram area. He was a popuvul, the greatest of shamans, and earned a praise and notoriety for helping the people.

The water was west of where it is today. My father, Tom Siva, told me that it moved when the people were forced to move by the government on behalf of the settlers. But, the water followed the people, the rightful owners. Not a bad story! — ES

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Nearly time for tea

Courtesy of Thomas G. Barnes @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS database.

Hi Folks; Nepuyum, tum hinyim haym (My friends whoever you are); Hakup inach ayay pat kuuht ashre'. I just harvested some elderberry blossoms. Every other day the plant yields blossoms that are ready. I will make tea from them sometime this year, whenever the need arises. I just put them in a paper bag, set it aside for later use.

I remember, several years ago, we had just moved into a new location and I was pleasantly surprised to find an elderberry bush right next to the house. I told my mother about it when I checked in on her to see if she needed anything. She called back in a short time to remind me to "pick every other blossom." I thought that was pretty good: an elder doing her job of instruction.

One of our language students recently told us of a nice recipe for elderberry that she uses. Maybe, she'll bring us some for our snack break. - ES

Monday, May 26, 2008


This morning as I was ichukin hiitii, (cooking something) I saw Tukut (wildcat). We were just talking about not seeing one lately. I guess the photographing of Paa't (bighorn sheep) by our friend Juan Delgado had us thinking about wild life (yeyenim). I wanted June to see Tukut as he passed by our window, so I called her away from the computer. He didn't disappoint us, either, as he passed by on his trail. Our dog Ocho didn't see him, apparently, as he was out of his yard, but then maybe they see each other all the time. Qayn enan (I don't know). — E.S.