Celebrate Native American Heritage Month

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month Banner

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 legacy as we work together with Tribal partners to preserve and protect California’s natural and cultural heritage for generations to come.

As part of the department’s Reexamining Our Past Initiative, State Parks is actively consulting and working with Tribes to more accurately reflect their history 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 2022Sign 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

The department continues to work with California Native American tribes and the public to identify and rename features in the State Parks System to honor California Native Americans’ deep connections to these ancient landscapes. In 2023, two park features at Anderson Marsh State Historic Park were renamed. A ridge, formerly known as Lewis Ridge, was renamed Mxqawlay’ba Knowin Xyoykith Ridge, which translates to “the grandmothers/ancestors heal on this mountain,” in Southeastern Pomo. The other park feature that was renamed is the McVicar Trail, now called Dawa Qanoq’ana, which translates into “south way in front of me.”

State Parks works with California Tribal Nations to establish Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) to create protocols for successful cooperation and partnership. In the past year, State Parks has signed MOUs with the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, the San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Indians, the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, and renewed an MOU with the Koi Nation of Northern California. 

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 ParkDancers 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.

Flyer for the Dive into Chumash Culture with special underwater portscast - 11/1/2023 @ 10am
Event: Live Dive Broadcast on Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) Program YouTube Channel: 

Time: 10 a.m. 

Description: In collaboration with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, California State Parks will commence Native American Heritage Month next month with a special live underwater broadcast from Gaviota State Park. Our Channel Coast District’s staff will host its first-ever "live dive" program will highlight the important role the coast and ocean have played in Chumash culture since time immemorial. This program will be offered in webinar format as a public PORTScast, connecting K-12 classrooms with the culturally important species and ecosystems along the Channel Coast and within the Kashtayit State Marine Conservation Area. Tribal members Tom Lopez and Levi Zavalla will join the live broadcast to share their unique perspectives. Students will also hear from State Parks Dive Team members as they explore the marine habitats offshore, and viewers will have the opportunity to ask presenters and divers questions. This special PORTS: Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students® program is free to join and open to the public. Click here for more information and to register to attend.
Flyer for the Beads, Beaches and Balance at Sue-meg SP - Activity - 11/ 3 & 17 of 2023 @ 2:30
Event: Beads, Beaches and Balance at Sue-meg State Park

Time: 2:30 p.m. at Palmer’s Point Day-Use Area.

Description: Join Interpreter Maiya for Yurok storytelling while creating an abalone and dentalium craft to take home. Staff will be doing two 15 minute rotations in one hour and seating and crafting material is limited.
Flyer for the Sue-meg Village Tour at Sue-meg SP - Sat & Sun in November @ 10am
Event: Sue-meg Village Tour at Sue-meg State Park

Time: 2 p.m. at Sue-meg Visitor Center

Description: Explore the rich history of Sue-meg Village and the continuing of traditions of the Yurok People. All programs are free and open to the public and last about one hour. The tour is available weather permitting.
Event: “We Are Water Protectors” Story Time

Time: 10-10:45 a.m. via Zoom from Van Damme State Park. You can register here.

Description: Join Interpretive Specialist Esme in reading the story book “We Are Water Protectors” by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade. Students will learn about the indigenous people of the Americas and the social justice movement to protect our waters in the environment and nature. Celebrate Native American Heritage Month by learning about indigenous-led movements to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption. This story is presented in a Marine Protected Area that students will have the opportunity to virtually explore. NOTE: This program is best suited for student kindergarten through third grade.
Flyer for the Stone Lagoon Guided Walks at Humboldt Lagoons State Park - 11/ 11 & 12 of 2023 @ 2:00
Event: Stone Lagoon Guided Walks at Humboldt Lagoons State Park

Time: 2 p.m. at the Stone Picnic Area

Description: Explore the cultural and natural history of the largest lagoon complex in North America. All programs are free and open to the public and last about one hour. The guided walk is available weather permitting. For updates, visit the park’s Facebook and Instagram pages @northcoastredwoods.
Event: Discover San Jose Creek at Ishxenta State Park

Time: 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Description: Crisscross this vibrant coastal stream over a series of wooden bridges on this out and back interpretive adventure. Immerse yourself in diverse plant life, including iconic coast redwoods; wonder at the curious clues of animal life; experience the remarkable geology within this truly unique California ecosystem. For Native American Heritage Month, we will explore the natural and cultural significance of this special park, where the Indigenous place name Ishxenta was restored in 2021. Ages 10 and up are welcome to attend. The guided hike is about three miles with an elevation of approximately 80 feet. Registration is required.

Event: Visiting Native American Artists

Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Description: Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park (SHP) will celebrate Native American Heritage Month with five guest artists sharing their Native culture with museum visitors. Admission is $3 for adults. Children 12 and under are free. The museum is located at 15701 East Ave. M, Lancaster, California. 

  • Saturday, November 18: Judy Einboden will share her gourd art and pine needle baskets. Judy honors her mother’s Panamanian heritage by incorporating patterns from Mola textiles into her art. However, she adapts the Mola style to depict local California animals.
  • Sunday, November 19: Rowan Harrison, a visual artist, will display his works in the mediums of ceramics and clay to create hand-built, hand coiled, and hand painted pottery that is connected to his Pueblo of Isleta/Navajo culture.
  • Sunday, November 26: Nadia Reed, a member of the Chinook Nation in Washington State, will showcase her Pacific Northwest Coastal Native American heritage inspired paintings convey a mixture of symbolic, expressionistic imagery of dancers, waterfalls, forests, animals, fish, masks, and mythical beings.
  • Saturday, December 9, visitors will have the opportunity to meet Michael Chas Williams, a member of the Wichita Tribe of Anadarko, Oklahoma. He creates jewelry, dreamcatchers, and portraits of contemporary subjects and historical Native American people.
  • Saturday, December 16: The day will highlight internationally recognized gourd artist Nadiya Littlewarrior (Potawatomi/Cherokee). Nadiya founded Spirit Vessels Studio in 1993.
  • Sunday, December 17: The museum will feature Maria Martinez, an artist of Yaqui heritage, on. Maria creates copper and sterling silver jewelry by hand.
Event: Esselen Tribe of Monterey County’s Autumn Harvest Fundraiser

Location: Hacienda, 7180 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel, California

Time: noon - 6 p.m.

Description: California State Parks joins the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County’s Autumn Harvest to celebrate and educate the community about Indigenous practices and sustainable connection through art, music, movement, meal preparation, and cultural sharing. The event includes educational talks, a panel discussion, prayer and song, crafting, storytelling, hands-on activities, dinner, silent auction and more from Tribal members and community partners. Tickets are available here.
Divided Together
Divided Together Podcast: The podcast was created in 2021 to help commemorate Border Field State Park’s (SP) 50th anniversary. The podcast and associated Border Field State Park self-guided tour app, reveals topics that involve separation and unification related to the border featuring people with direct experience and knowledge. Border Field SP is the ancestral land of the First People, the Kumeyaay, and there are two episodes focusing on the Kumeyaay. Listen to members of the Kumeyaay Nation discuss various topics including how their nation is divided by the border and how they have used the land’s resources to benefit both the land and the people as well as why these practices are necessary in our increasingly changing climate. Stay tuned for season two on early border history and two livelihoods, one on each side of the border, and whether they benefit from the ecosystem services of the Tijuana River Estuary. Listen to the current podcast 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:

Antelope Valley Indian Museum: Los Angeles County
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.
Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park: Amador County
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.
Lake Perris State Recreational Area: Riverside County
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.
Sue-meg State Park: Humboldt County
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.
State Indian Museum: Sacramento County
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.
Wassama Round House State Historic Park: Madera County Historic site used as a ceremonial meeting placed by California Indians is preserved in this park. It includes a reconstructed “dance house” still used for Miwok and Yokut celebrations. The Round House is open by appointment only.