Monday, June 29, 2009

Rounding Up Morongo Roundup Memories

Where was everyone?

It seemed that absolutely no one was home at the Morongo Reservation on that hot day 54 years ago. But a reporter wrote that as she coaxed her car along a winding road into Portero Canyon, “the noise of bawling cattle gradually drowned out the sound of its toiling motor.”


“Then,” Ruth Little reported in the May 30, 1955, Daily Enterprise, “as we reached the small grass-carpeted forest of black walnut and cottonwood trees surrounding the corral, the din crescendoed into bedlam.” It seemed everyone was there, from grandparent to infant. And so were hundreds of bellowing cattle and a blazing fire with about 40 branding irons in its coals. 

It was time for the spring Morongo Roundup.


Robert Martin, Morongo Tribal Chairman, will round up Morongo Roundup memories in the next Dorothy Ramon Learning Center Dragonfly Lecture starting at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 6, at 17 West Hays, Banning.


Each year, from generation to generation, the Morongo Indian cowboys drove hundreds of cattle from the foothills, valleys, and deserts, branded and vaccinated the calves and got them ready for market. The roundup was a major Southern California event. Reporters flocked each year to cover what they saw as a colorful story, but for the Indian cowboys the roundups meant endless hours of sweaty and difficult work.


Although the big roundup is no longer held and the Upper Corral stands silent, Morongo tribal members still run cattle. 

They also are still passing Indian cowboy traditions to newer generations. 

Tribal chairman Martin’s grandfather, for example, ran cattle and worked in the annual roundups, and Martin, himself now a grandfather, worked in the roundups as a teen-ager. His family’s next generations of Indian cowboys also have cattle and are riding, roping, and rodeoing.


Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, a nonprofit that saves and shares Southern California’s American Indian cultures, languages, traditional arts and history, this year is exploring the Indian cowboys’ often-unrecognized place in history. The Learning Center is featuring lectures such as this one, in which participants are encouraged to share their own memories. Donations at the door will benefit the nonprofit.


The annual Dragonfly Gala, scheduled for Aug. 8 at Morongo Community Center, also will feature an Indian cowboy theme.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dr. Ernest Siva

With the Arts Dean before the ceremony © Pat Murkland

In ceremonies Saturday at California State University, San Bernardino, 
Ernest H. Siva was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.
He told the crowd he was guided by two family leaders:
Francisco Morongo, who told the People in the early 1900s that they should learn the new ways of their Younger Brothers to adapt and cope with the changing world. At the same time, the leader said, never forget your culture: your language, your stories, and your songs, for these are what and who you are. 
Otherwise, he said, you will become Lost People. Your roots will be like those of shallow grass instead of those of a mighty oak. 
Those words, Ernest Siva said, have guided him throughout his life.
The second person was his mother, who encouraged him and his sister to pursue higher education. Both did. (Ernest Siva received bachelor's and master's degrees from USC.)
Ernest Siva remembered, his mother would say, "Are you going to be a Bruin or a Trojan?" 
(This was before Cal State San Bernardino was an option, he noted.)
"Today, I'm a Coyote!" he said, the crowd applauding him.
And a happy one!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Agua Caliente Skateboards

We'd like to fly (or skate) to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., to see a newly opened exhibit called Ramp it Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America.
Ramp it Up, on view through Sept. 13, "celebrates the vibrancy, creativity, and controversy of American Indian skate culture," according to the museum. 
Among the skateboarders celebrated are 10-year-old Augustin and 7-year-old Armondo Lerma (Agua Caliente Band).
"The museum is eager to show how Indian Country has embraced and changed skateboard culture in America," museum director Kevin Gover says in a press release.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Her Own Brand of Quilting

© 2008 Carlos Puma Photo for Dorothy Ramon Learning Center

At the tiny, not-yet-renovated space in downtown Banning where Dorothy Ramon Learning Center holds its events, all visitors immediately see a beautiful art quilt.
This quilt exudes creative energy. 
It was a gift from the artist, JoJo Martin of Morongo Reservation.
She gave the Learning Center this stunning quilt at the 2008 Dragonfly Gala.
We are thankful each and every time we look at this quilt with its uplifting artwork.
The focal center of the design is an image of Dorothy Ramon, the namesake of the Learning Center. She is surrounded by vibrant dragonflies. Their wings glisten in the light. The fabric colors and quilting create a feeling of movement. 
On each side are phrases in Serrano, including Wayta' Yawa', which means, Always Believe.
(This is the title of the book written by Dorothy Ramon with linguist Eric Elliott, in which she saved and shared the Serrano language and culture.)
At our 2009 Dragonfly Gala on Aug. 8, we again will display this quilt, sharing its beauty and joy.
Come see it.

We'll also display JoJo Martin's brand.
Brand of clothing?
Brand of quilts?
This year's Gala celebrates Indian cowboys.

© Pat Murkland Photo

We'll share Ms. Martin's cattle brand (above), along with displays of other American Indian cowboy brands.
As Dorothy Ramon said at the end of her stories, and as the quilt says, 'Ama' 'Ayee'.
That's all.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sharing Stories and Songs

If you ever get a chance to attend a conference offered by the California Indian Storytelling Association take it!
The group keeps cultures vibrant by sharing stories and songs. 
In this video from 2008 are a few of our favorite Chumash songs, accompanied by clappersticks:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dragonfly Gala 2009

Our theme this year for our Dragonfly Gala will be Indian cowboys.
Aug. 8, 2009, starting around 4 p.m.
Morongo Community Center, Morongo Reservation.
Celebrate Southern California American Indian cultures, languages, history, and traditional arts. 
• Cultural displays and demonstrations.
• Indian Cowboy Photo Art Exhibit.
• Great Food!
• Traditional Singing and Dancing.
• Famed Silent Auction.
• Dragonfly Award.
• Community Gathering to support the 501(c)(3) activities of Dorothy Ramon Learning Center.

Lasso the date on your calendar.
We'll be sending out invitations soon, so make sure you're on our mailing list.

We thank our major gala sponsor, San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Writing about the Mission Indian Federation

Lisa Woodward, a phenomenal scholar who is currently working on a cultural resources project for Pechanga Indian Reservation, is now writing a history column for a Temecula weekly.
Her first column is on the Mission Indian Federation.

The Federation fought for basic civil rights.
Although the organization was pivotal for American Indians and helped lay the groundwork for tribal sovereignty, it somehow remains obscure. 
To try and build awareness, Ushkana Press published a booklet in 2005 called 

Standing Firm: The Mission Indian Federation Fight for Basic Human Rights, 

By Deborah Dozier, with contributions from Pauline Murillo, Ernest Siva, Richard Hanks, and Pat Murkland. 

Someday we hope to do more.

Here is Dr. Woodward's column.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Mission at San Gabriel

The mission featured in The Great Escape, the Serrano story we're exploring, is Mission San Gabriel Arcangel. 
(That's the Archangel Gabriel, in Spanish.)
The mission was founded Sept. 8, 1771.
It was moved to another site after attacks. 
It later was nicknamed "The Queen of all Missions."
It is an active parish today in modern-day San Gabriel.
Here is a map of all the missions.
In April 1937 Henry F. Withey photographed the mission for a survey of historic American buildings. View the photos online at the Library of Congress, here.
View also the survey's amazing architectural drawings.
We'll be exploring mission life in the 1700s in our story.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Great Escape

"Aavugan amay'," Sarah Martin told linguist Kenneth C. Hill on Sept. 10, 1963.
"I'm going to tell a story now."
"Uviht nemaativ."
"Long ago, I heard this."
Her story was so important it was passed down through her family, from generation to generation.
It is the story of an ancestor who escaped from a way of life, a marriage forced upon her by San Gabriel Mission.

And the memory was saved and passed down through time. 
Sarah Martin, an elder and Morongo Reservation leader, further saved the memory by recording the story in the Serrano language with Dr. Hill.
Now we're looking through that window of history, a window with an Indian view.
Our Serrano Language and Culture Class, led by Ernest H. Siva, is studying the recording, and learning the story. 

Many people still retain a romantic view of the California Missions. This is the story of someone who actually was there. Once she escaped from that way of life, was she found and returned to the mission?
As the journey progresses, we'll keep you updated.