Saturday, August 3, 2019

Menil and Her Heart

This Native American story already has touched many hearts, and now, a play written by teenager Isabella Madrigal will be performed again in Redlands TODAY, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019.
The public is invited to a free performance of “Menil and her Heart” at 7 p.m. at the Glen Wallichs Theater, Theatre Arts Building, University of Redlands, Redlands. (The building is across the street from Sylvan Park, off University Ave.)
This time the play, “Menil and her Heart,” has support from a $5,000 grant that 17-year-old playwright Isabella Madrigal and her 15-year-old sister, Sophia, received to support work in reviving Native American cultural storytelling.
The Story
The nonprofit Learning Center partnered with the young playwright earlier this year to host rehearsals and workshops leading to a premier performance at the Center in Banning. More than 100 people from throughout the region came to laugh, cry, and connect with the play, which attracted national attention from Indian Country Today news service, and earned playwright Isabella Madrigal the gold level award in Girl Scouts, the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve.

The Dragon Kim Foundation, based in Orange County, then offered a fellowship of up to $5,000 to Isabella and her 15-year-old sister, Sophia, offering mentoring and leadership training to help the teens realize their vision of cultural storytelling. 

The sisters have been leading rehearsals and participating in workshops at Dorothy Ramon Learning Center in Banning for months, aimed on improving their production. The cast includes locals such as 82-year-old Ernest Siva (Cahuilla-Serrano), Morongo Reservation’s cultural adviser and historian, and president of Dorothy Ramon Learning Center. 

About Isabella and Sophia Madrigal
Both sisters, of Temecula, are of Cahuilla and Chippewa descent, and have been active in their indigenous community since an early age. Both have been singing, dancing, and acting since an early age and are enrolled in the Acting Conservatory at Orange County School of the Arts, often making a hectic commute to Dorothy Ramon Learning Center in Banning during rush hour with their parents, Luke and Renda Madrigal, for their rehearsals and workshops. 

As a young Native actress, Isabella Madrigal said she became increasingly aware of the lack of Native representation in the arts. It wasn’t just about the Native faces missing in the media, she said; the indigenous perspective also seemed missing from the national narrative. The Madrigal sisters began researching traditional Cahuilla stories in order to uncover these erased but vital stories. While compiling these stories they became aware of the thread linking these stories to the global epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, which has succeeded in sparking outrage within indigenous communities across the globe. They saw how these ancient stories can help reconnect and heal people. Isabella Madrigal then wrote her full-length play, “Menil and her Heart,” which follows the disappearance of a Cahuilla girl, and the efforts of her sister to find her by journeying into an alternate realm of ancient Cahuilla stories.

Come join us!

More information:

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Top 5 things to do at the Dragonfly Gala

Fly with the Dragonflies! 
Join us in celebrating Southern California’s Native American cultures on Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, with delicious foods, traditional music, exhibits, and arts at the annual Dragonfly Gala. This year's gala celebrates "Our Native Homelands," especially the Native American relationships with Southern California's unique and beautiful landscapes.

Here are the top 5 things to do at the Gala!
 1. Connect with "Our Native Homelands" through hands-on cultural exhibits. 
Barbara Drake teaches Native uses of native plants for foods, medicines, and more.
This year visit with Barbara Drake, an elder who shares Native uses of plants as foods, medicines, and more; Morongo Cultural Resources Department and Morongo School; Malki Museum; several regional wilderness land conservancies, and more.

2.  Eat a delicious dinner. Yum, traditional pit BBQ beef cooked by the Mathews family, and yes! feast on some favorite foods made by Cahuilla elder Jenny Lyons.

3. Enjoy traditional Native American music. The gala is the place to be for bird singing and dancing.
Dragonfly Gala 2018, Carlos Puma photo
4. Shop! Bid on eclectic and artistic finds at our famous silent auction.

5. Bring a dragonfly (handmade, art, what have you) and take home a dragonfly in the Community Dragonfly Exchange. 

Dragonfly Gala 2018, Carlos Puma photo
Most importantly, join our community celebrating our Southern California Native American cultures. The Learning Center’s Dragonfly Award for soaring achievements in saving and sharing Native American cultures this year goes to educator, storyteller, and ethnobotanist Kat High. 
Kat High at our Native Voices Poetry Festival (Carlos Puma Photo)
Tickets are $50 each; tables are $1,000, $2,000, $3,000.
4-8 p.m. Aug. 10, 2019
Morongo Community Center, Morongo Reservation.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Wonderful Inland Southern California

Amazing but true: Stories from the Pass
and Inland Southern California

Explore odd, surprising, and amazing stories of Inland Southern California with a special added focus on Banning. Larry Burns of Riverside will lead a fun session on Monday, June 10, 2019, guiding you to the weird, wonderful, and obscure in the Inland Empire region, including family-friendly places to visit, little-known history, and just plain wonderful trivia, such as who from the Inland area invented flaming hot cheetos, or the white line in the middle of all highways. 

Burns will share and sign his new book, Secret Inland Empire, which spills secrets that give the communities of Riverside and San Bernardino counties their wonder and uniqueness. 

In the session that starts at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 10, at Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, 127 N. San Gorgonio Ave., in Banning, also learn from local historians a few surprising recently discovered twists in Banning history and about efforts to save and cherish historic landmarks of the San Gorgonio Pass. And, you might also learn how to call a dragonfly with a local Native American song, and your open heart.
Your $5 helps the nonprofit Dorothy Ramon Learning Center save and share Southern California’s Native American cultures, languages, history, and arts.

“Coming Alive Through Story:” Free workshops start Friday

Explore the power of ancient Native American stories and discover how they apply in healing ways to contemporary living. 

Dr. Renda Dionne Madrigal, Luke Madrigal, and family will lead "Coming Alive Through Story," four free workshops starting Friday, June 7, at Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, 127 San Gorgonio Ave., Banning, CA.
The sessions are scheduled from 7:30-9 p.m. on June 7, June 14, June 28, and July 12, at the nonprofit Center, which saves and shares Southern California's Native American cultures, languages, history, and arts.
These workshops are free and are for adults and older teen-agers; all are welcome. Please RSVP.
Dr. Renda Madrigal is a licensed clinical psychologist based in Temecula who combines mindfulness and story in her work. Her heritage as Turtle Mountain Chippewa informs her focus on the importance of respect, balance, and connection for well-being. 
Luke Madrigal is a Cahuilla culture bearer and has worked for years on Indian child welfare issues.
Their daughter, Isabella Madrigal (Cahuilla/Chippewa), recently wrote, directed, and produced a play performed at Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, "Menil and her Heart," which explores the healing powers of Native American stories. 
The play earned 16-year-old Isabella her gold level in Girl Scouts, the highest achievement level. She and her sister, Sophia, 15, have won a $5,000 grant from Dragon Kim Foundation to continue the work in cultural revitalization through Native storytelling. 

Friday, April 12, 2019


Escape the tax doldrums on Monday, April 15, 2019, and come to Dorothy Ramon Learning Center in Banning to learn how you can create your very own riches, your own superbloom at home. Learn how you can surround yourself with the beauty of a diverse array of native plants that will attract pollinators, songbirds, and other wildlife year round.

Madena Asbell will show you how. She's director of plant conservation programs at the Mojave Desert Land Trust in Joshua Tree, CA where she oversees the native plant restoration nursery, seed bank and herbarium. Her focus is on restoring desert habitats, educating others about the importance of our diverse desert flora, and preserving this diversity for future generations. Before joining the Mojave Desert Land Trust, she was director of horticulture at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants in Sun Valley, CA.

DETAILS: 6 p.m. April 15, 2019, Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, 
127 N. San Gorgonio Ave., Banning
Your $5 will help save and share Southern California's Native American cultures, languages, history, and traditional arts.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Discover the Painted Caves of Baja

Hidden deep in the mountains of central Baja are some of the world's most beautiful prehistoric rock art paintings. The United Nations has ranked this world heritage site as one of the top five rock art sites in the world. Few people trek to see them, because they are so hard to reach. Britt Wilson and Maria Puente did. Now you can discover and explore the painted caves of Baja with them as your guides.
Dragonfly Lecture on Monday, March 4, 2019, at 6 p.m. 127 N. San Gorgonio Ave., Banning, CA. Your $5 will help us save and share Southern California's Native American cultures.

Find out more about this magnificent rock art

About Lecturers Maria Puente and Britt Wilson

Maria Puente was born in the northern Basque city of  Bilbao (Spain). Her first introduction to archaeology was in the first grade when she visited the famous cave paintings at Altamira Cave in northern Spain. She attended the private Jesuit University of Deusto in Bilbao, for three years, and then moved to Madrid to complete her studies, earning an M.A. with a double major in History and in Art, and the Certificate of Pedagogical Competence from the University Complutense (1987). Ms. Puente also completed studies that earned her the Superior Degrees in Classical Piano and Chamber Music from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid (1989).  In 1983, Ms. Puente formally enrolled and  attended the School of Archaeology for the Basque Country for one school year. She took part in the excavations (Roman site) in the Cave of Arenaza through the University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain.

Ms. Puente came to the United States through a cultural/teacher exchange in 1990 and has lived in the Coachella Valley since then. Each summer she returns to Spain to enjoy the warm waters of the Mediterranean in southern Spain.

Ms. Puente served as a member of the City of La Quinta Historical Preservation Commission from 1994 until 2015.  She is also a certified Bureau of Land Management Site Steward for Corn Springs in eastern Riverside County.  She has helped record several archaeological sites in the desert region.  She is a member of Coachella Valley Archaeology Society.

Britt Wilson, originally from Los Angeles, lives in Palm Desert and is an employee of the City of Rancho Mirage where he serves as a management analyst.  He has worked for four cities in his career as a planner or management analyst. Mr. Wilson has a master’s degree in Public Administration and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.  

During a hiatus from city work, Mr. Wilson worked as an archaeological technician conducting surveys throughout southern California and Nevada, working on most of the solar projects in eastern Riverside County.  He has a deep interest in native cultures particularly the Apache, Cahuilla, and Serrano people.  Previous to working as an archaeological technician, he was the Cultural Resources Coordinator for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and did a short stint at the Cahuilla Tribe in Anza. 

Mr. Wilson is also a volunteer archaeological surveyor for the Bureau of Land Management. As a volunteer, he has recorded close to 500 new sites throughout the southern California region including village sites, rock art sites, rock shelters, milling sites, etc.  He has worked in Anza Borrego State Park, the San Bernardino National Forest, and BLM lands across southern California in addition to his previous work on Indian reservations.  His current project is researching and recording trails and rock art sites along the western shore of ancient Lake Cahuilla.  Mr. Wilson is also a certified Bureau of Land Management Site Steward for Corn Springs in eastern Riverside County.

He is a published author and has written two ethnographies on the Cahuilla/Serrano people. He is a member of the Society for California Archaeology,the Malki Museum, the Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, and the Mayflower Society.  He is also the President of the Coachella Valley Archaeological Society.