Monday, September 21, 2009

Dragonfly Lecture on Sept. 28

Don't miss our upcoming Dragonfly Lecture on rock art by Steve Freers.
His presentation will focus on the drama of rock art in the Mt. San Jacinto region. Lots of amazing images!
He'll also discuss handprints and what they may tell us about the people who left them.

DETAILS: 6 p.m. Monday Sept. 28
Dorothy Ramon Learning Center,
17 W. Hays, Banning
Donations at the door help our nonprofit save and share Native American cultures, languages, history, and music and other traditional arts.

Inland Flute Society Presentation

On August 30, I was a guest of the Inland Empire Valley Flute Society as a presenter of the Native American Flute. The members of the society who owned NA flutes were asked to bring them while others could borrow flutes from me or Jackie Aronowitz, the host and President of the Society.

As June and I approached Jackie’s home, we could hear strains of a flute choir in rehearsal. What a treat for us! They were preparing for next month’s Flute Festivaal special concert featuring internationally recognized contrabass flute artist Paige Dashner Long. (For further info: We hope to attend this event, on October 10.

I figured this presentation would be mainly to introduce the flute (to the new members) and give them a few examples of the indigenous music of southern California. I think it went fairly well, after all, these are fine musicians with a new toy in their hands. I reminded them  that some flutes are better to look at than to play while others are easier to play. I recommended the flutes made by Marvin and Jonette Yazzie, my friends and collaborators. The Yazzie’s are local and one can rely on their creations. ( for further info)

I explained that by my desire to play our traditional music led to the system I devised, which is employed and demonstrated in Voices of the Flute. (Ushkana Press, 2004)

We were treated to a wonderful potluck dinner which we enjoyed. Flutists are hardy eaters!

Ernest Siva


Monday, September 14, 2009

Little Eagle Free honors Ernest Siva, gives scholarships

Little Eagle Free, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that raises money for college scholarships for Indian students, presented Ernest Siva with their 2009 Eagle Feather Award, which honors academic accomplishments and community service. The award was presented at the organizations annual scholarship award ceremony and fund-raiser at Knotts Berry Farm Hotel in Buena Park.

The award was presented by Frances Knott, President, Bruce Sunrise, Vice President, and Fred Curtis, Board Member. They cited Ernest’s academic accomplishments, Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music Education and Choral Music from USC, his teaching career in public schools and at UCLA, his contributions as Artistic Director of the Pass Chorale and Orchestra, and his role as founder and President of Dorothy Ramon Learning Center.

The organization presents this award annually to an American Indian who can serve as a role model to the students they serve.

The organization and their Scholarship Partners, Blue Sky Children’s Foundation, The Knott Family, Native American Institute, Wilson W. Phelps Foundation, Ray W. and Barbara Schumaker, and Kari Schumaker, raise funds strictly from private sources. At this event, they presented more than $54 thousand in scholarships to 31 students attending colleges in California. Both undergraduate and graduate students received scholarships. One recipient, Vince Whipple, now pursuing a doctorate, plans an academic career. He was a student in Ernest Siva’s UCLA class, and said that Ernest was a role model for him.

Student awardees were from Navajo and Hopi reservations in Arizona and several California reservations. All students gave short speeches expressing their thanks for the support provided bye Little Eagle Free, Inc.

More information about this wonderful organization, including how to apply for scholarships, can be found at

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Art on Ayaqaych

© Pat Murkland Photo
Ayaqaych or Mt. San Jacinto

Sacred Mountain
We know this peak today as Mt. San Jacinto, but it once was known as Ayaqaych.
Ayaqaych translates roughly from Serrano as Gathering Mountain, a place for the people of the First Cultures to gather plants for medicines, foods, and other uses.

The people also came here to learn their songs ...
from the mountain, according to Ernest Siva, Serrano/Cahuilla elder (and Dorothy Ramon Learning Center's leader).
The peak, one of the tallest in Southern California at 10,834 feet, was sacred to different Indian cultures for miles around.
Small wonder, then, that the region also features ancient rock art.

Rock Art in the Mountains
In our next Dragonfly Lecture on Sept. 28, rock art expert Steve Freers will explore this special region. He explains:

"I plan on sharing the distribution of various rock art motifs and styles within the Southern California region, with an emphasis of the Mt. San Jacinto region."

A New Look at Hand Prints
Prehistoric rock art often touches us with an emotional connection ... especially when we see hand prints left untold years ago on rock. Who were these artists?
Freers has some information to share:
"I will be showing some new research on hand prints that suggests the age and stature range of individuals who created the pictographs."

Freers will offer a lively and visual presentation.
Don't miss it!

6 p.m. Sept. 28
Dorothy Ramon Learning Center
17 W. Hays, Banning
Your donations at the door will help save and share Southern California cultures, languages, history, and music and other traditional arts.

Our Next Dragonfly Lecturer

About our Sept. 28 Dragonfly Lecturer:
Steve Freers is a secondary chemistry teacher in Riverside County and a former sports and hand physical therapist. For 20 years he has been involved in rock-art research in Riverside and San Diego counties.

In 1994, he co-authored a book on Southern California rock art, Fading Images.
He served five years as a senior editor for the American Rock Art Research Association.

Using anthropometric data collected in the early 1900s by the famous anthropologist Franz Boas, he has been able to develop a rubric that often times is able to determine physical stature and gender of the makers of prehistoric hand impressions.

He currently teaches Native American Rock Art courses at the University of California, Riverside. Steve has also been recording rock art in the Grand Canyon National Park, BLM/Arizona Strip, and the Kaibab National Forest for the last 10 years.

Dragonfly Lecture: Art on Ayaqaych.
6 p.m. Sept. 28, 2009
Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, 17 W. Hays, Banning
Donations appreciated at the door.

His publications include:
Freers, Steven M.
1995 Shamanistic Pictograph Site in Northern San Diego County. In Rock
Art Papers, Volume 12, edited by Ken Hedges, pp. 59-74. San Diego Museum Papers 33.
1995 The Occurrence of Hand Prints in the San Luis Rey Style—Southern California. In Utah Rock Art, vol. XIV.
1997 Maybe I’m Amazed: Comparisons of Maze Imagery in Southern California and the Southwest United States. In Utah Rock Art, vol. XVI.
1998 Lending a “Hand” to San Luis Rey Style. In American Indian Rock Art, Volume 22, edited by Steven M. Freers, pp. 57-78. American Rock Art Research Association, Tucson, Arizona.
2001 The Hand Prints at CA-RIV-114: A Forensic and Anthropometric Study. Lending a “Hand” to San Luis Rey Style. In American Indian Rock Art, Volume 27, edited by Steven M. Freers and Alanah Woody, pp. 319-332. American Rock Art Research Association, Tucson, Arizona.
2003 A Race Against Time. Documentary film on the state of cultural resource preservation in southern California.

Freers, Steven M., editor
1997 American Indian Rock Art, Volume 23. American Rock Art Research Association, San Miguel, California.
1998 American Indian Rock Art, Volume 22. American Rock Art Research Association, Tucson, Arizona.
1999 American Indian Rock Art, Volume 25. American Rock Art Research Association, San Miguel, California.

Freers, Steven M., and Alanah Woody, editors
2001 American Indian Rock Art, Volume 27. American Rock Art Research Association, Tucson, Arizona.

Smith, Gerald A., and Steven M. Freers
1994 Fading Images: Indian Pictographs of Western Riverside County. Riverside Museum Press, Riverside, California.