Saturday, December 25, 2010


© Pat Murkland

Aya Qaych (Gathering Mountain in Serrano)
Also known as Mt. San Jacinto

"This is where our people would go to gather and process food and medicine. People of spiritual power would also go there to learn their songs [from the mountain]."
— Ernest Siva, Voices of the Flute

There is so much to learn from the world.

There is so much for the Elders to teach us.

We thank the Elders for making our world a better place: for singing the songs, telling the stories, and for speaking in the voices of our Native American cultures — the Native languages.

As Dorothy Ramon Learning Center approaches 2011, we're ready to leap into that new year and continue to save and share Southern California's Native American cultures, languages, history, and traditional arts with you.

Hope you can join us!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry, Merry

Pat Murkland Photo

Our leader, Ernest H. Siva, has been visiting the new Morongo Reservation School and sharing culture, language, history, and traditional arts with the schoolchildren.

He received this beautiful thank-you giant card and framed artwork from the second-grade class of Mrs. Alaniz and Ms. Marsha.

It was his turn to say: Hakupa' ay! (Thank you!)

The card has references to the visits:

Maharch (The number five, from counting fun)

Serrano language
Indian day
Very kind
Aya Qaych (the Serrano name for Mt. San Jacinto)

And the artwork features illustrations of the visits, too:

Here he is, singing and playing his gourd rattle.

And here he is, playing the flute, with a little traditional music on the right, too.

What joy! These are our future cultural stewards.

Someday, someone may be doing artwork of them singing, saving and sharing these cultural stories and songs.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lowell Bean on Monday

We are honored to have Lowell Bean for our next Dragonfly Lecture on Monday, Dec. 6.
Dr. Bean is renowned as an eminent scholar.
He has been working with the Cahuilla people for more than 40 years.
He includes the voices of the people and their traditional knowledge.
Ethnography, anthropology, history, research: His pioneering work began when he was a graduate student; that work continues today for the now-retired university professor.
Dr. Bean plans to discuss unpublished animal stories that he began collecting in the 1960s.

WHEN: 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6
WHERE: Dorothy Ramon Learning Center,
17 W. Hays, Banning, CA
Donations at the door help the nonprofit Dorothy Ramon Learning Center save and share Southern California's Native American cultures, languages, history, and traditional arts.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Flutes at the Festival

© Pat Murkland
A beautiful day in Banning, views of the snow-covered mountaintops, and a downtown holiday festival with lots of free fun for families.
What could be more perfect?
Answer: Antonio Flores teaching people of all ages how to make and play flutes.

Antonio Flores left Oakland at midnight to come and volunteer all day at Dorothy Ramon Learning Center. Making and sharing flutes is his joy.

We thank Antonio Flores for creating joy for so many when he helps people discover Native American cultures and music.

He teaches how to make the small Pomo-style flutes of elder.
He also teaches how to play them.
© Pat Murkland

While the future flutists are making their flutes, he often talks about local flutes and Southern California music. Often, an enthused crowd surrounds him.

When each person has made his or her flute, Antonio Flores often "tests" it, that is, he plays it, "to make sure it works."

What was only recently a stick from an elderberry bush bursts forth with beautiful music. Each flute has its own voice — two voices, really, since one can play it at both ends.

Antonio Flores came to the Phineas Festival with a bunch of long sticks and cut branches.
Nearly 100 people left the festival with their own handmade flutes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

See you Nov. 27

We had big plans for the Phineas Festival of Lights in downtown Banning.
But the weather had bigger plans: Rain.
Organizers have postponed this event until Saturday, Nov. 27.
So come Discover the Center next weekend.
Here are some fun activities we're planning...

Antonio Flores returns!

Larry Parks Photo

Our good friend from Oakland loves teaching people how to make Pomo-style flutes.
And how to play them.
The wood is elder.
Each flute has its own voice.
The one you make is fitted just for you.
Whenever Antonio Flores appears,
a crowd soon gathers.
Long after an event ends, there is often still a crowd of flute-makers.
Read about one of Antonio's previous visits HERE.

More ...

Discover the Center and join the excitement.
We'll have refreshments and flute music.

Still more ...

Find out why we have dragonflies on our doors.
Make dragonflies.
Learn the Dragonfly Song.

See you on Nov. 27.
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The festival will offer snow, arts and crafts, firetruck rides, and much more. Read about it here. (But remember the new date is Nov. 27.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Waat Tonight

Everyone is invited to Waat: A Celebration of California's First Cultures.
Native American singers and dancers from Northern and Southern California will join in a show of cultural unity to share the sights and sounds of their ancient traditions.

Pomo singers from Northern California will join Serrano, Cahuilla and Mohave traditional singers starting at 6 p.m. at Crafton Hills College Performing Arts Center, Yucaipa, CA.

Arts and crafts, displays and demonstrations also will be part of the event.

Jacque Nunez, a tribal descendant of the Acjachemen Nation and amazing storyteller, will moderate the event.

See a replica American Indian village at Waat.

What does Waat mean? That is the Serrano Indian name for the region where today we find the community college. Waat means juniper.

Address: 11711 Sand Canyon Rd., Yucaipa.
More information HERE.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month

© Pat Murkland 2010
Kiich means house in Serrano.
Pronounce: kii as in "turn the key" and ch as in "children"

Every month is Native American Heritage Month
at Dorothy Ramon Learning Center.

But in November we especially take pride in the national celebration of our American Indian cultures, languages, history, and traditional arts.

November is a good time to discover Ahunika'.
Discover The Center at these activities and events:

Nov. 13
Native American Flute Class
This class starts on Nov. 13 and will be meeting every second Saturday.
Bring your flute, learn to play with your heart.
Performance-oriented class led by flutists from Inland Empire Flute Circle.
Only $10. Proceeds will go toward Dorothy Ramon Learning Center's nonprofit work.
Where: The Center, 17 W. Hays, Banning, CA.
When: 6-9 p.m.

© Pat Murkland 2010
Ernest Siva plays the flute

Nov. 15
Serrano Language and Culture Class
Every first and third Monday, learn Serrano language and songs, and explore Serrano culture with Elder Ernest H. Siva, president of the Center.
Where: The Center, 17 W. Hays, Banning, CA.
When: 6-8 p.m.

Nov. 18
14th annual Banning Unified School District
Cultural Celebration
Enjoy Native American storytelling, singing, dancing, arts, crafts, food.

© Pat Murkland 2010
Jacque Nunez tells a story.

See a replica Indian village.
Try Indian frybread.
Participants include Morongo Bird Singers and Dancers, Daughters of Morongo, Jacque Nunez, Ernest Siva.
Co-sponsored by Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, Banning High Indian Club, Banning Unified Indian Education, RSBCIHI Native Challenge Project.
Where: Banning High School, 100 W. Westward, Banning, CA.
When: 5:15 p.m.

Nov. 19
Waat: A Celebration of California's First Cultures
Bird singing, dancing, storytelling, cultural demonstrations and displays.
Replica Indian village.
Co-sponsored by San Manuel Tribal Cultural Awareness Program, Crafton Hills Community College, Yucaipa Valley Historical Society, Dorothy Ramon Learning Center.
Where: Crafton Hills College, Yucaipa, CA
When: 6 p.m.

Nov. 20
The Center at the Phineas Festival
Discover Ahunika' during Banning's downtown holiday festival.
Open house, music, arts, crafts, fun.
Where: The Center, 17 W.Hays, Banning, CA
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m

© Pat Murkland 2010

Discover the Center. Please join us.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Flutes, flutes, flutes

We're going to the Inland Empire Flute Circle annual gathering this Saturday.
Hope to see you there!

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: 38766 Brookside Ave., Cherry Valley, CA
• Flute makers, flute music, flutes to buy, flutes to listen to, flutes to play, a flute-playing class, a flute concert, bags for your flutes, and more ...
• Crafts, carvers and more ...
Bring your own lunch. No alcoholic beverages.
INFORMATION: Chuck Flanagan 951. 769.0989

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Serrano Stories & Songs

Families are especially welcome to our next Dragonfly Lecture.
Kids, you are welcome to bring your favorite teddy bear.
Come learn a song and story about a little bear ... and much more.
Explore the wonders of Serrano culture with culture bearer Ernest Siva.

6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11
17 W. Hays, Banning, CA
Donations save and share Southern California's Native American cultures, languages, history, and arts.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dragonfly Lectures Ahead!


Our next Dragonfly Lectures feature:
• Ernest Siva, the Center's president, Serrano stories and songs, Oct. 11.
Pauline Murillo, San Manuel elder, Stories, Nov. 8.
• Lowell Bean, ethnologist, Animals and the Cahuilla World View, Dec. 6.
• Carmen Jany, linguistics assistant professor, Adventures with J.P. Harrington, Jan. 17.
All lectures start at 6 p.m. at the Center, 17 W.Hays, Banning, and your donations help save and share Southern California's Native American cultures, languages, history, and traditional arts.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dragonfly Gala 2010

San Manuel Tribal Color Guard © Carlos Puma

More than 300 people honored American Indian military veterans at Dorothy Ramon Learning Center’s annual Dragonfly Gala.

The event at Morongo Community Center featured poignant thanks and displays remembering American Indians who served in the U.S. military, including those who died in service.

Soboba Reservation display © Carlos Puma

American Indians began serving in the U.S. military long before they officially were recognized as U.S. citizens in 1924 and have the highest number serving of any minority.

San Manuel Reservation’s Tribal Color Guard posted the colors to begin the Aug. 14 event at Morongo Community Center.

San Manuel Tribal Color Guard © Carlos Puma

Pedro “Pete” Molina, California assistant secretary for Native American Veterans Affairs, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Acting California Veterans Affairs Secretary Rocky Chavez thanked and honored American Indian military veterans. Displays included Soboba Reservation’s wall of photos, the faces of the many tribal members who served in the U.S. military, and Morongo Reservation
’s more than 80 names of those on its veterans memorial.

Most military veterans present gathered for applause from the crowd.

Some military veterans at the Gala © Carlos Puma

Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, a nonprofit that saves and shares Southern California American Indian cultures, gave this year’s Dragonfly Award to all military veterans.

Ernest Siva with Morongo Tribal Chairman Robert Martin & Dragonfly Award © Carlos Puma

Morongo Tribal Chairman Robert Martin accepted the award, which will be housed at Morongo. The Dragonfly Award will be available to travel to ceremonies or events honoring military veterans, Dorothy Ramon Learning Center President Ernest Siva said.

Author Marlowe Churchill signs history book © Carlos Puma

Dorothy Ramon Learning Center is renovating two buildings and two lots at the corner of San Gorgonio Avenue and Hays Street into a Center for saving and sharing American Indian cultures, languages, history, and traditional arts.

Dancing to traditional bird songs at the Gala. © Carlos Puma

The Center supports tribal work to save and revive cultural knowledge and welcomes and teaches the general public about Southern California A
merican Indians. All proceeds from the annual Dragonfly Gala go to the nonprofit’s work.

Getting ready to dance to traditional bird songs. © Carlos Puma

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Good Food for a Good Cause

William Pink is donating, cooking, and catering the feast at the Dragonfly Gala on Saturday.

Here's the menu:
BBQ beef, pork, turkey
handmade tortillas
acorn (wewish)
yucca bread
and for dessert ... Ernest Siva is again donating delicious cobblers!
You can eat this delicious feast and help us save and share Southern California's Native American cultures, history, languages, and traditional arts.
Still seats available!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Saluting American Indian Military Veterans

Artwork by Gerald Clarke, Jr. of Cahuilla Reservation for Dorothy Ramon Learning Center

They answered the call, and many didn’t return home to Southern California. At the Aug. 14 Dragonfly Gala, Dorothy Ramon Learning Center will honor the sacrifices and service of American Indian military veterans and their families.

American Indians have the highest percentage of any ethnic group serving in the U.S. military. The nonprofit Learning Center’s annual Dragonfly Gala will feature tribal displays and a tribal color guard, share military memories and present the annual Dragonfly Award for soaring achievements in saving and sharing Native American cultures and history. Gala participants are invited to share their photos and memories honoring American Indian military veterans.


“The annual Dragonfly Gala serves us in a special way,” Learning Center President Ernest H. Siva said recently. “While, ostensibly it is a fund-raiser, it has also been a venue for education and what the Indians call a Doings (Waka'). This was a time for people to meet and experience food, singing and dancing, trade, visiting and meeting new people.

“In the old times, most of these activities took place outdoors,” Siva said. “Today, our venue is Morongo (Reservation) Community Center, which has been large enough to accommodate guests under one roof.”

Along with the military memories and tribal displays, the Dragonfly Gala will include:


Photo by Carlos Puma, crowd enjoys delicious dinner at 2009 Gala.

• A barbecue dinner, this year prepared and served by William Pink and his family;


• bird singing and dancing and other traditional Southern California American Indian music;

Photo by Carlos Puma, Singing birds at the 2009 Gala

• and a silent auction with Native American and ecletic art.

Past galas have drawn crowds of more than 300 people from across California. All proceeds help Dorothy Ramon Learning Center Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, save and share Southern California’s American Indian cultures, languages, history and music and other traditional arts.

The Learning Center has been renovating buildings at the corner of Hays Street and San Gorgonio Avenue in Banning. The building will enable the Center to offer more cultural programs and hands-on workshops for people of all ages.

“Even though traditional culture has changed drastically, there are the remnants of important values and knowledge that have deep roots,” Siva said. “These reside in language and song and our memories, which may or may not have been documented in print or recording. It is our job and occupation to make these accessible to both young and old through our publications and instruction.”

DETAILS: PLEASE RSVP! Now is the time to reserve your seats or table. See e-mail and phone number below.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dragonfly Lecture tonight

"From Warriors to Soldiers," a look at the history of Native Americans and military service, starts at 6 at Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, 17 W. Hays, Banning.
Read more about Gary Robinson and watch a short award-winning video about Native Americans and military service here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Not Silent about the Silent Auction

It's that time of year when we feel special.
We are receiving some special donations for our Dragonfly Gala Silent Auction.

Take a look at a few donations:
Quilt by artist JoJo Martin of Morongo Reservation
(pictured here with her granddaughter)

Two views of gourd art of butterfly and flower,
Elizabeth Green, Creative Spirit

More gourd art by Elizabeth Green,
rattlesnake box inlaid with moonstones and other stones

Two views of spectacular collectible, Painted Pony

three views, collectible Painted Pony

dragonfly beaded purse

beaded baby moccasins

beaded purse

beaded, dichroic glass dragonfly card holder
by Marci Barnes of Blue Dog Arts

silk dragonfly scarf

Hawaii watercolor painting

Want to buy? Want to give?
Want to join us and help make a difference?


All proceeds go to save and share Southern California's American Indian cultures, languages, history, and traditional arts.

Dorothy Ramon Learning Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is not affiliated with any one reservation or tribal government. We're in our seventh year of serving you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Navajo Code Talkers Day

According to the National Museum of the American Indian:

On July 28 in 1982, the U.S. President signed a measure officially making August 14th “National Navajo Code Talkers Day.”

Our Dragonfly Gala this year honors Native American Military Veterans ... on AUGUST 14.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Coming: Dragonfly Gala

here's a postcard we just sent out to let everyone know ... Save the Date! Our annual Dragonfly Gala is planned for Aug. 14.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Answering the Call: From Warriors to Soldiers

Our Dragonfly Lecture on July 26 continues exploring our theme, Answering the Call: Honoring American Indian military veterans.

We are honored that our Lecturer is Gary Robinson of Tribal Eye Productions.
Mr. Robinson, of Choctaw and Cherokee descent, is an author and film maker.

He is co-author of the 2008 book, From Warriors to Soldiers: A History of American Indian Service in the U.S. Military.

A talented and passionate film-maker, Mr. Robinson's bio says he has written, produced, directed, shot, and edited more than 100 video/television programs for and about American Indian people.

Mr. Robinson's moving short film, "I Am the Warrior," won third place in the 2009 national Veterans Day short film competition hosted by the National Museum of the American Indian.

His children's video storybook, "A Native American Night Before Christmas," was nominated for Best Animation at the 2007 American Indian Film Festival. (View sampling of the story, which includes a sleigh drawn by buffalo!)

Other works include "Those Who Defend Us," a film under contract for the Santa Ynez Chumash Elders Board. According to Mr. Robinson, this film honors Chumash veterans and active duty soldiers and is accompanied by a booklet that provides a more in-depth appreciation of those tribal veterans.

Please join us!
From Warriors to Soldiers with Gary Robinson
6 p.m. Monday, July 26
Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, 17 West Hays, Banning, CA 92220
(the corner of Hays and San Gorgonio)
Donations at the door help our nonprofit save and share Southern California's Native American cultures, languages, history, and traditional arts.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Answering the Call

Answering the Call: Native American Military Veterans
is our theme this year.

Our Dragonfly Lecture tonight honors the sacrifices of American Indian soldiers and their families.

Angelo Schunke served on the committee at Morongo Reservation that developed the veterans memorial and he spoke at the dedication ceremony last year.

6 p.m.
Dorothy Ramon Learning Center
17 W. Hays, Banning, CA 92220
Donations at the door help our nonprofit save and share Southern California's Native American cultures, languages, history and traditional arts.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Meet Your Neighbor on Monday

Scores of people drive every day along Interstate 10 and see a reservation near Banning, but they don’t know much more about the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.

The next Dragonfly Lecture at Dorothy Ramon Learning Center on April 19 offers a chance to discover Morongo’s varied American Indian cultures and rich history.

In “Meet Your Neighbor: Morongo Cultures & History,” Michael Contreras Jr., Morongo Cultural Heritage Program coordinator, will discuss Morongo’s different American Indian cultures and the general history of Morongo and surrounding Indian communities.

Contreras said discussion topics also include: Cahuilla and Serrano Indian territories; the reservation system; detrimental policies in U.S. history; the assimilation era and loss of culture; tribal sovereignty and the struggle to maintain and revitalize.

Contreras, a member of the Torres-Martinez Band of Desert Cahuilla Indians, was born in Banning in 1975 and attended Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS.

As the Morongo Band of Mission Indians Cultural Heritage Program coordinator, Contreras is charged with caring for Morongo’s large collection of baskets, artifacts, photos, and library collections. Other duties include management of local sacred and archaeological sites, Tribal consultations, acquiring and archiving local tribal history, cultural educational involvement within Morongo’s preschool and elementary school, educational presentations throughout the surrounding communities.

DETAILS: WHEN 6 p.m. April 19

WHERE: Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, 17 W.Hays, Banning.

A donation at the door helps the nonprofit Center save and share Southern California’s Native American cultures, languages, history and arts.

Information: (951) 849-4676.

Lecture co-sponsored by Morongo!

The nonprofit Center currently is raising money to renovate the building at the corner of San Gorgonio Avenue and Hays Street, and recently received a $500,000 donation for that renovation from San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Major Donation to the Center

San Manuel has donated $500,000 to Dorothy Ramon Learning Center's building renovation project.
Read about the donation and project here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Art Hop Springing Into View

Time to start thinking about the Art Hop, Banning's annual downtown cross-cultural arts event. This year it's May 1. But we're celebrating cultural arts the whole weekend!
A few of our planned activities:

American Indian Music Workshops

Flute-Making Workshop, April 30, May 1 & 2

Make a beautiful wooden six-holed Plains-style Native American flute in a 3-day workshop with master flute-maker Marvin Yazzie, Navajo, and his wife, Jonette. Learn the basics of playing with Ernest Siva. Discover the music of the First People of Southern California. Limited to 10. $300.

Pre-register, 951.849.4676.

Art Hop Workshops, May 1


Chumash culture bearers Georgiana Sanchez and her family will teach how to make this ancient wooden musical instrument, then share and teach songs and stories important to the Chumash people. Decorate a clapperstick to take home. Sessions limited to 15 people. $20. Pre-register, 951.849.4676

• Rattles for kids

Kids can learn how to make a tin-can rattle and about appropriate use. FREE as long as supplies last!

Discover The Center at Hays & San Gorgonio, Banning

OPEN HOUSE! Help Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit,

Save & Share Southern California’s cultures, history, languages, & traditional arts.