Area celebrates Native Americans’ heritage

OCEANSIDE — Displays of artifacts, woven baskets and readings by Native American author Gordon Johnson helped folks celebrate Native American Heritage Month on Nov. 13 at the Oceanside community rooms.
The multifaceted presentation gave visitors a keen insight into the culture. “Our culture, our language, our stories are all connected,” Cathleen Chilcote Wallace of the Luiseno Tribe said.
Luiseno and Pala Indians shared ancient traditions and modern stories.
Lydia Vassar, of the Luiseno Tribe, shared her knowledge of basket weaving. “There were no (Luiseno) basket weavers left,” Vassar said. “To bring it back was a lot of work.”
Vassar joined a weaving circle made up of weavers from several different tribes. Once she learned the technique she studied archive photos of Luiseno baskets and mimicked the weave and material.
Now she shares her knowledge with Luiseno school children. Vassar teaches children how to weave baskets and use them for their specific purposes of gathering. “For the little ones their excitement comes with creating something,” Vassar said.
A highlight of the event was Gordon Johnson’s reading of his stories and poems that describe contemporary life on a reservation. “I don’t want to be stuck on a museum shelf,” Johnson said. “Stuck in what Indian life was.” Johnson’s stories describe his experiences growing up, dreaming of becoming a writer like Hemmingway, going to Rincon Fiesta dances, and his daily observations of family and neighbors.

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