Nisenan Heritage Day A Big Success

The following is a press release from Judith Lowry.

The first annual Nisenan Heritage Day, held at the Miner’s Foundry on October 13, was a great success. Featured as an all-California Indian event, tribal leaders, scholars and culture bearers from around the state came in support of the Nevada City Rancheria and Nisenan People’s of the Sierra Foothills.

The day kicked off with the Nevada County Historical Society’s Artifact symposium. Speakers included experts on Nisenan history, Dr. Tanis Torne, Dr. Sherri Tatsch and Hank Meals among others, who presented vital historical information, beginning with the 1850 Camp Union Treaties to the formation of the Nevada City Rancharia during the Woodrow Wilson administration in 1914, to its forced closure in the 1960’s, and up to where the tribe stands today.

Frank LaPena and Rose Kelly Enos brought their dance group which included prominent members of the Louis Kelly family and other Nisenan descendants. After the dances, Wanda Enos Batchelor, great-granddaughter to Mr. Kelly and Chairwoman of the Washo Tribe, expressed her family’s deep appreciation for the honor of being properly presented to the public and for being invited to dance here, once again, in their traditional homelands.

Frank is an author, painter, Professor Emeritus Native American Studies at Sac Stateand an eminent California Indian Ceremonialist. Members of the California Basket Weavers Association, Susan Campbell, Marlena Montgomery and Shyla Peck, demonstrated their skills along with noted California Indian jewelers such as Tiffany Adams and Leah Matta and visual artists Dugan Aguilar, Lyn Risling and Julian Lange.

Malcolm Margolin, publisher of Heyday Books and Lindsie Bear, editor of News From Native California were on hand to meet the public and offer a wide range of books and publications about California’s First Peoples. Heyday has proposed to publish a book on the history of the Nisenan of Nevada City, or “Ostomah”, as it is spoken in the Nisenan language.

The day concluded with an evening Rock and Roll show by the Deborah Iyall Band and local talent, Shelly Covert (secretary of the NC Rancheria) and her band, Undercover. Both ladies put on great shows and there were a lot of happy Indians out on the floor in celebration of a stellar event, and well, just being together.

There were a lot of requests to make this an annual event, so CHIRP (California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project) and NCR will soon be back at it, planning for next year.

The evening before the main event, CHIRP and the NCR hosted the opening of the art exhibit “Evolutions of Tradition”, a survey spanning over thirty years of artwork featuring some of California’s finest Native American artists. That exhibit will run through November 10 at the Powell House on the corner of Spring Street and South Pine in Nevada City and will be open to the public on Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 3 pm.

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7 Responses to Nisenan Heritage Day A Big Success

  1. Judith Lowry says:


    Let me add that the Miner’s Foundry website has posted photographer Akim Aginsky’s great photos of the Nisenan Heritage Day event.
    By unanimous consent of all the attendees, participants and especially the California Indian scholars, artists, preservationists and ceremonialists who came to stand with the Nisenan People’s of the Sierra Foothills, this appears to be on its way to becoming an annual event.
    We will soon post CHIRP’s and the NCR’s complete list of heart felt “Thanks”, to all who helped make this celebration a truly historic and memorable event.

  2. Ben Emery says:

    I spoke with Judith last night and it sounded like an incredible event. Unfortunately that old adage of so much to do and so little time came into play. Hospitality House hosted its own event that lasted overnight at the fairgrounds. Think Outside The Cardboard Box was taking place and I was one of the committee members for the event and was booked most of the weekend. I hope I can make next years Nisenan Heritage Day, it sounded like something we would all really enjoy and also need to learn about.

  3. Judith Lowry says:


    That’s okay, October is a busy month for everyone. Besides, there’s always next year. Joanna Robinson, HH founder, did come to our event and introduced herself to me.
    She and I had a delightful chat. I find her a most compassionate lady who is doing important work for the community. As I explained to her, I see the Nisenan tribe as the first homeless people Nevada County ever produced, so she and I agree that we are on the same side.
    With winter approaching, I urge everyone who has a warm home to do whatever they can, large or small, to help Hospitality House shelter and comfort those unfortunate souls in need through the cold months ahead.

  4. Bob, thanks so much for this wonderful recap of the Nisenan Heritage Day event. It really turned out to be a stellar occasion! Judith, thanks for all of your hard work and dedication. You rock!

  5. Oh, I might add that I am off to the Bridgeport Fall Festival this morning to set up our information table for the Nevada City Rancheria. Lots of fun to be had out there. This is yet another important event the public can come out and learn more about local history. Bridgeport was a very central location for the Nisenan so it is nice to have been invited to participate and reconnect with that lost piece of land.

    • rlcrabb says:

      Congratulations on pulling off this wonderful event to all involved. Wish I could have been there, but hey, I’m sure next year’s Heritage Day will be even better.

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