Nisenan Heritage 2015 on Nov. 6-7: Honoring our past

THE NISENAN PEOPLES OF THE SIERRA FOOTHILLS welcome their community to the 6th annual Nisenan Heritage Day celebration at the Grass Valley campus of Sierra College, November 6-7.

Learn the history of the tribe and their stunning journey through time. This is a story of enormous challenges and triumphant survival through California’s distant eons and epochs, to the present.

Each year as part of their culture sharing, the Nisenan invite the litterati and glitterati of California Indian culture to Sierra College Grass Valley where they converge, each bearing their cultures, to meet with each other and our community and celebrate the beauty and resilience of California’s First Peoples.

Tribes from all of California’s important geographic tribal regions, are represented by artists, scholars, educators, regalia makers, jewelers, poets and traditionalists.

Local friends of the Nisenan, including Carolyn Jones-Rogers, the “Acorn Lady”, who learned to process acorn the Nisenan way, lend a hand with the festivities. Carolyn’s acorn grinding demonstrations and acorn meal cookies are especially popular with children and their parents.

An art reception and evening of music with Shelly Covert & The South Fork Band (honoring the South Yuba River) is from 6-9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 6. Speakers, artisans, basket weavers and tribal dancers are present from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7. Visit for more information.

“The Nevada City Rancheria and CHIRP are hosting this event to foster community relationships, to share Nisenan culture, and to preserve the history of the original people of this land,” says Shelly Covert, Secretary of the Nevada City Rancheria Tribal Council.

Local Native American artist Judith Lowry founded CHIRP (short for California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project) to research, document, preserve and protect California Indigenous culture. Judith’s work has been exhibited at the Crocker Art Museum, the Wheelwright Museum and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Other Heritage Day sponsors include Sierra Streams Institute, the Nevada City Firehouse No. 1 Museum and Sierra College. The historic No. 1 Firehouse Museum houses an informative Nisenan exhibit that includes watertight baskets, ceremonial feather dance collars, arrowheads, pounding stones and an extensive photo display.

(Photo of Nevada City Rancheria Chairman Richard Johnson by Akim Aginsky)

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