Get Indigenous

What do you know about the people who lived in Nevada County for thousands of years before the Gold Rush? My guess is not much. When I was growing up in Grass Valley in the fifties, we were told that those people were called the Maidu, and about all we learned was that they ate acorn mush made in the well-worn holes in the rocks we would sometimes find in the woods. This misconception has persisted through the years, even when the county named the street leading to the Rood Center “Maidu Lane” in the nineteen-eighties.

As it turns out, the native people were actually the Nisenan, and had their own distinct culture before they were decimated by the 49ers and those who followed. Their descendants are determined to set the record straight, and have organized the first Nisenan Heritage Day event this Saturday, October 13, at the Miner’s Foundry in Nevada City.  For details, check out their website

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11 Responses to Get Indigenous

  1. gregoryzaller says:

    I hope that “setting the record straight” then leads to an embrace of this Nisenan heritage dating back for perhaps thousands of years. This culture was a sustainable predecessor to the gold rush and the present dominance of Western civilization. I believe we would all profit to learn more about their relationship with nature and the earth and take it to heart.

  2. Ben Emery says:

    Yesterday at indigenous peoples day a speaker mentioned that he comes from a “tribe” called Mohawk. The thing is “M” sound isn’t found in their language and what has happened is the people started identifying themselves Mohawk before human beings. We all share this spec we call earth in a small universe among who knows how many more universes. From nano microscopic to the macro Hubble telescope we are looking at the same matter. We are all related.

  3. A gnat on an elephant’s butt can also be viewed as living sustainably and in harmony within its environment.

  4. Robert Lovejoy says:

    We are big, they are small. We won, they lost. Get over it and get a life. Or a casino.

  5. Ben Emery says:

    Maybe there is something to be learned from the gnat?

  6. Tom Odachi says:

    Hey RL,
    Nice artwork! Did you do it?

    If not, do you or Judith know what the symbolism (especially the 3 shooting stars, 3 rivers, colors) means?

  7. Judith Lowry says:


    Allow me to clarify. With the approach of Nisenan Heritage Day, CHIRP and the NCR hired the services of LeeAnn Brook, one of our county’s finest graphic artists, to portray the HistamYani, known today as the Sutter Buttes. This is the place the spirits of the Nisenan People’s departed, assemble for ascension to their paradise, the Milky Way. The rivers flowing forth represent the Yubas, lifeblood of the Nisenan. The falling stars represent the Leonid Star Shower, which occurs during the Autumnal season, and is the time for the Nisenan to give thanks for Creator’s bounty.
    Please visit the NCR’s updated website at:

    You can now scroll down and read the latest news from the NCR. Please take the time to read the NevadavCounty Historical Society’s Bulletin which focuses on the Nisenan and their history, up to the present.
    I hope you all find it informative and enlightening.
    And don’t forget to attend Nisenan Heritage Day on Saturday the 13th, at the Miner’s Foundry.
    It will unlike any other indigenous inspired event that has previously been held in modern Nevada City. Here you will find the true story of the Nisenan Peoples of Oustomah and their struggles on their own homelands, beginning with the Gold Rush of 1849, to the present day.

  8. tom odachi says:

    Thanks Judith! That was a great description to accompany the fine talent of LeeAnn Brook!

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