About Erik Gordon Bainbridge

Erik Gordon Bainbridge is a MAPOM director and a Kule Loklo volunteer who also builds virtual worlds and teaches community education classes in Marin County, including "The Native American History of Marin County"

Big Time Festival at Kule Loklo tomorrow

Tomorrow, July 21, is the 32nd annual Big Time Festival at Point Reyes National Seashore, from 10am to 4pm.  We will have Northern California Indian dancing, vendors, and skills demonstrators.

Admittance is free, but you should bring a lunch. You can buy a sandwich in the nearby communities of Inverness Park, Olema, and Point Reyes Station.

You can learn more about Kule Loklo at the website of the Kule Loklo volunteers,www.kuleloklo.com, where you will also find photographs of dancing from some previous years and of the rebuilding of the semi-subterranean ceremonial roundhouse.

Directions to Kule Loklo are available on the National Park website http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/events_bigtime.htm.  There is a walk of about .4 mile on a dirt trail from the Seashore headquarters to Kule Loklo.

Olompali Heritage Day is May 20

Olompali Heritage Day will be celebrated on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at Olompali State Park, the site of the only land ever officially granted to a Native resident of northern Alta California.

The land grant was made in 1843 by Mexican Governor Manuel Micheltorena to Camilo Ynitia, headman of the Coast Miwok Indian village at the location.  Three years later, it was the site of the Battle of Olompali, the first battle of the Bear Flag Revolt. In 1852, two years after California came under American rule, Ynitia sold most of the land to pay his taxes.  The purchaser was Marin County tax assessor James Black, who gave the land to his daughter

Camilo Ynitia had built an adobe home on the property and in 1915, James Black’s descendants built a huge mansion around the adobe, fortunately preserving it.  Today the mansion is gone and you can see the remains of Camilo Ynitia’s original adobe home.

Olompali Heritage Day includes Pomo Indian dancing, historical talks, including remembrances of the site by members of the Chosen Family Commune, plant walks, and demonstrations including basketry, flintknapping, adobe brick making and blacksmithing. Admission is $8.  The park is located on Highway 101 in Marin County just north of Novato.  You can get maps and directions at this California State Parks and Recreation page.  The Novato Advance has a schedule of events and the Sonoma Valley Sun has a history of Olompali.

MAPOM will have a table at the event.  Please stop by and say hi.

Sylvia Thalman (1927-2012)

We have lost a giant.  Sylvia Thalman, co-founder of MAPOM and active board member since the 1970s, died in January.  Yesterday, a large throng of family, friends, Native Americans, and admirers gathered at Tiburon’s Corinthian Yacht Club to celebrate her life.

Sylvia Thalman at the Kule Loklo Big Time in 2008
Sylvia Thalman at the 2008 Kule Loklo Big Time

Back in the 1960s, long before there was any public interest in Native America, Sylvia worked with other non-Indians in Marin to learn the history of the Coast Miwoks who once were the guardians of the land that is now Marin and southern Sonoma Counties.  She was a co-founder of the Miwok Archeological Preserve of Marin (MAPOM) and was active as a director until her stroke last year.

In the 1970s, she and others in MAPOM worked with the National Park Service to create Kule Loklo, intended to honor the Coast Miwoks, who at the time were thought by non-Indians to be an extinct people.  She also quietly worked at researching the genealogy of the Coast Miwoks, meticulously combing through Mission, genealogy, and public records.

At yesterday’s service, Greg Sarris, chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (Coast Miwoks), spoke of when his people were trying to regain the Federal tribal recognition that had been taken from them decades earlier, they found that Sylvia’s quiet but dedicated research provided them the documentation they needed to regain Federal tribal recognition.  In honor of Sylvia’s work, the tribe made her an honorary elder, and she was awarded the Bay Area’s Jefferson Award for public servce.

Julia and Lucy Parker, who’ve long taught MAPOM basketmaking classes at Kule Loklo, sang two Yosemite Miwok songs with Lucy’s son and spoke of their long friendship with Sylvia.  Other speakers included MAPOM president Ralph Shanks and his wife Lisa, John Golda of the National Park Service, Pat Rapp, and members of Sylvia’s family.

No one can ever replace Sylvia, but the work she began continues in the activities of MAPOM, in Kule Loklo, in the Indian Skills classes that MAPOM has long offered, and most importantly, in the victory of the Coast Miwok people in regaining their tribal recognition.

Sylvia, we’ll miss you forever.