Indian Grinding Rock SHP
Narrated by Russ Christoff
Traveling deeper into central California, I turned in at Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park, just eight miles above Jackson.
The area in and around the park was once home to tribes of northern Sierra Miwok people, Native Americans that established villages along side the rivers and streams in the Sierra Nevada’s.
The mission of this 135 acre park is to preserve the history of the Miwok and other neighboring tribes, as well as the park’s most distinctive feature, the Indian Grinding Rock.
Known to the Miwok as Chaw-se, this outcropping of marbleized lime stone contains over 1,200 mortar holes formed from grinding acorns and seeds.
This Chaw-se is thought to be between two and three thousand years old, and is largest collection of bedrock mortars in North America.
I found dawn an interesting time to explore the park.
In the early morning quiet, it was easy to imagine a time when the valley was inhabited by Miwok families, as I watched the sun burn away the remnants of last night rainfall.
Visitors can see a replica of a Miwok village while walking along the short trail that winds around the park.
Miwok homes were built with cedar poles interwoven with grapevines or willow branches and covered with cedar bark.
A hole was left at the top for smoke to escape from heating and cooking fires.
The Round House here at Indian Grinding Rock is considered to be the largest in California.
Important occasions and ceremonial events were celebrated in this impressive structure, and still are today.
The history of the Native Americans that once lived here is interpreted in the Chaw-se Regional Indian Museum.
Designed to reflect the architecture of the traditional Round House, the museum houses fine examples of basketry, regalia and tools.
Helpful staff and volunteers give varied programs and demonstrations of Miwok crafts.
For those who wish to camp, there is a small 23 site campground. Reservations are recommended.
A covered picnic area is available for large groups who plan to visit for the day.
Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park holds Native American cultural events at various times of the year.
Call ahead to see what is scheduled.