Celebrate Native American Heritage Month
November is National Native American Heritage Month, where the original peoples of what is now the United States of America are celebrated. California Native Americans have been caring for the land of California since time immemorial. California State Parks recognizes this vital connection as we work together with our Tribal partners to share and protect California’s natural and cultural heritage for generations to come.
State Parks is proud to partner with California Native American Tribal Nations throughout the state. As part of the department’s Reexamining Our Past Initiative, State Parks is actively consulting and working with Tribal Nations to accurately reflect our past throughout the State Park System.
Sign Carver Alme Allen, a local artist of Karuk and Yurok descent who was hired to redesign the signs, puts the finishing touches on the new Sue-meg State Park sign June 2022
To highlight some projects, in 2021, the name of Sue-meg State Park was restored. The department continues to work with Tribal Nations and the public to identify and rename features in the State Parks System to honor California Native Americans’ connection to the lands and features.
State Parks works with California Tribal Nations to establish Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) to establish protocols for successful cooperation and partnership. In the past year, State Parks has signed MOUs with the Yurok Tribe and the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band.
Dancers during the performance of the grand opening of lipay~Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok (Land of the First People) in 2021 at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
State Parks and California Natural Resources Agency Events
This month, State Parks and the California Natural Resources Agency invite you to celebrate and honor Native American Heritage Month. Join us, virtually or in-person, in the events below.
Time and Location: 12:30-1:30 p.m. Virtual via Zoom.
Description: This Speaker Series event will discuss the importance of strengthening partnerships with California Native American tribes across California Natural Resources Agency’s departments, policies and programs and in their Nature-Based Solutions work. During the series program, panelist will discuss recent collaborations to increase tribal access and co-management of public lands and natural resources, ancestral land return, tribal nature-based solutions, tribal workforce development and projections for future initiatives. You can register for the Speaker Series here.
Time and location: Noon at www.Facebook.com/CaliforniaStateParks
Description: The live stream will feature State Parks staff and members from tribes discussing the collaboration and recent work that has been throughout the State Park System. The event will feature staff at North Coast Redwoods, Capitol and Colorado Desert districts. Viewers will see a signage installation at the North Coast Redwoods District and hear about the recent memorandum of understanding signing with the Yurok Tribe. You will hear from Capitol District staff sharing the importance of annual events held at the State Indian Museum and why these events are of significance to the local Native community. A segment of the live stream will come from the department’s largest state park, Anza-Borrego Desert, which will cover the recent Native American crew who conducted fuel reduction work as well as the Sentenac Cienega restoration.
Time and location: 10 – 11:30 a.m. California Natural Resources Agency Auditorium, 715 P St., Sacramento, California. If you are attending in person, please RSVP here. If you can only attend virtually, please register via Zoom here.
Description: California Native Americans are the original stewards of the lands that now constitute California and continue to make essential and unique contributions to our state. This panel, hosted by the California Natural Resources Agency, is designed to highlight the importance of the contributions of California Native American people in state service and to help inspire and grow the number of Native Americans who work for state service. This panel is focused on connecting with high school and college-age Native Americans with the goal to share resources and knowledge needed to plan for and achieve meaningful state careers to support themselves, their communities, and their ancestral lands. Topics discussed during this panel will include the benefits of state service, recruitment and outreach, and information on how to apply for state service. After this panel discussion, participants will be encouraged to visit Poppy Pavilion Career Center and meet with state department recruiters who can help answer questions and provide tailored advice on how to secure a job in state service.
Time and location: Friday and Saturday, November 25 and 26 at the California State Indian Museum located at 2618 K St., Sacramento, CA 95816.
Description: The Native Arts and Crafts Market is returning to the California State Indian Museum in Sacramento! On both Friday and Saturday, the museum will be hosting Native vendors from all around the state. Shop for unique and hand-made gifts anytime between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Food trucks will be parked on the museum grounds selling fry bread, sweets, and coffee. We look forward to seeing you! Admission is free. For more information, visit the museum’s Facebook page.
Explore our Indigenous Cultures Flip Collection: Explore our curated collection of Flip topics to bring National Native American Heritage month to your classroom! Students can learn about the Yurok, Miwok, Chumash and more in these Flip topics! Learn more here.
California Native American History
Below you will find some state parks that allow you to connect and learn more about California Native American history:
The Antelope Valley Indian Museum (AVIM) interprets the California Indian cultures of the Western Great Basin, East and Southeast of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This includes the Kitanemuk, Mojave, Halchidhoma, Quechhan, Kawaiisu, Southern Paiutes, California and Arizona Indian tribes.
This park contains 1,185 granite bedrock mortars, which is the largest collection of mortars in North America. Chaw’se Regional Indian Museum features a variety of exhibits and an outstanding collection of Sierra Nevada Indian artifacts, including those from Northern, Central, and Southern Miwok, Maidu, Konkow, Monache, Nisenan, Tubatulabal, Washoe and Foothill Yokut. In the Miwok language, Chaw'se refers to the grinding holes where acorns, seeds, and other items were processed. This park includes a Miwok village complete with a roundhouse, bedrock mortars and petroglyphs.
Ya’l Heki’ Regional Indian Museum includes interpretive exhibits of the Mojave Desert group culture of Serrano, Cahuilla, Cupeño, Gabrieleño, Vanyume, Luiseño and Chemehuevi tribes. The name "Ya'l Heki'" translated from the Cahuilla language means "Home of the Wind." The holdings at Lake Perris includes a small basket collection, pictures and murals of local California Indians.
The Land of the First People Exhibit Area at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is also called Iipay ~ Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok (pronounced “Ee-pie Tee-pie Koo’-me-eye Mutt Nee-ha-pock.”) Representatives of the Kumeyaay Nation supported the interpretation of Kumeyaay culture and their connections to the San Diego River and to Old Town San Diego at this public gathering area.
This park includes Sumeg Yurok Village with traditional style family houses which are currently used by Yuroks for education of their youth and to share their culture. In the Yurok language, Sumeg refers to an ancient ceremonial and important gathering place. Sue-meg State Park on the North Coast of California was primarily Yurok Indian Territory with the Wyiot tribe to the south, Tolowa tribe to the north, and the Karuk and Hoopa tribes to the east. The Yurok Village consists of homes, a sweathouse, changing houses and a dance house. The surrounding archaeological sites have great importance. The village houses an original dugout redwood canoe, which was crafted by the late Yurok canoe maker, Dewey George. This park contains a Native American Plant Garden which has the plants used in medicinal, basketry, subsistence and ceremonial purposes of the Yurok Tribe.
Cultural items include basketry, beadwork, clothing and exhibits about the ongoing traditions of various California Indian tribes; emphasis on Central Valley groups including the Yana, Yokuts Monache, Patwin, Wintu, Maidu, Koncow, Nisenan, Tubatulabal and Nomlaki. There is a special display about “Ishi, Last of the Yahi Indians.” This museum illustrates the theme "A Continuing Culture," the objects are mounted in displays interpreting spiritual activities, objects needed for daily living and examples of excellence in basketry.