Pioneer, CA Change


Hundreds visit Chaw’se Day at Indian Grinding Rock

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Carolyn Schmitz
05/23/2014 9:27 AM

There was something for everyone at Chaw’se Day, including lessons on how tools were used (above), a quiet places for families to eat and rest, music and teepees to learn about and play in. Amador Ledger Dispatch photos by Carolyn Schmitz


Last Saturday, the Chaw’se Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park, in conjunction with the Chaw’se Indian Grinding Rock Association, and supported by the Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians, presented Chaw’se Day — a day chock full of games, activities, history and music designed to welcome and celebrate Spring.

Chaw’se Day was a fun time for families, friends and neighbors to gather and mingle over delicious Native American taste treats, learn about tools, furs and artifacts on display, play games, learn Native American crafts and basket weaving, tour the park and hear traditional music sung “in the good way.” Display tables lined a large section of the park, showcasing goods and services for Native Americans, as well as utensils and trinkets, pots, baskets artwork and fine jewelry created by local Native American artisans.

Miwuk family members demonstrated  how tools were used, including finely-woven baskets used to carry water and mix food, dining spoons made for the men and muscle-like half-shells used as spoons by the women. One spectator picked up a formed stone, asking what it was. When the demonstrator replied, “It is a fertility rock,” the spectator quickly put it down.

History was shared like anecdotes, telling about the uses of soapstone, and how a soaproot bulb was used to catch fish. Social lessons were abundant, too. Permission to photograph was given by consent of the group, through the eldest among them, demonstrating a respect for eachother rarely witnessed in today’s California climate.

Chaw’se Day is a great way to celebrate Spring, and to learn about ourselves. For a more personal look at Native American traditions, join Julia Parker, elder of Coast Miwuk/Kashaya/Pomo, who will lead a talk on Saturday, June 14, at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., at Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park. Parker is a Yosemite Cultural Interpreter, a basket weaver, teacher and demonstrator. She is quoted as saying, “Take from the earth and give back, and don’t forget to say please and thank you.” Parker’s Books, “Scrape the Willow Until It Sings” and “It Will Live Forever,” will be available for purchase. For more information about the Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park, or to reserve your seat at Parker’s June 14 presentation, call 296-7488.

Copyright © 2016 Amador Ledger Dispatch
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