Each year we spend time in various locations photographing the different collections found in Making. With every destination comes a rich history, one full of biodiversity, landscape, craft, and the Indigenous people that first cared for the land and have done so for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years.
A Land Acknowledgment is a formal statement that gives recognition and respect to the Indigenous peoples as traditional stewards of the land.
We’ve also compiled a list of books, links, and other resources below that we’ve found helpful in our learning. We encourage you to explore these and learn more about the tribes, land, and history of where you live and travel.
No. 8 / FOREST
We photographed this issue in multiple locations including Mill Valley, California, on the traditional homelands of the people of Coast Miwok, and Southern Pomo, recognized today as the Graton Rancheria tribe. The land was a place of hunting, gathering, healing, and trade. The Coast Miwok were known for their basket weaving and handcrafted feathered and clamshell beaded ceremonial hats, belts, aprons, and jewelry. Today there are over 1,000 descendants of the Coast Miwok, who keep the heritage of their beautiful and thriving area alive.
We also photographed at Snoqualmie Falls in Washington state, on the traditional homelands and birthplace of the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, one of the largest in the Puget Sound region. The Snoqualmie Valley and River were places of travel, hunting, and fishing, and the Snoqualmie People are still there today, tending the land, water, fish, and game.
“The mists carry our thoughts and prayers to the spirits and ancestors as they cleanse our thoughts. The rushing waters give us the strength to keep our traditions alive and to continue to thrive in the modern times.”
— Snoqualmie Indian Tribe
The Coast Miwok
The Coast Miwok have occupied the area now known as Marin and southern Sooma County in Northern California since as early as the mid 1500’s. They were distinctive because of their language and how they adorned their bodies with tattoos, paint, and unique headdresses. During the Mission Period the Coast Miwok became a part of several missions, including the Mission San Francisco de Asis (Mission Dolores), Mission San Rafael Archangel, and Mission San Francisco Solano. The Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo people were a primary labor source used by the Spanish to establish and grow these missions. After the Mission Period ended, the Coast Miwok people were freed from the missions however they were kept in servitude by the Mexican land grant owners that occupied the territories previously belonging to the tribe. Camilo Ynitia, a Coast Miwok leader, secured a land grant for a region that included the prehistoric Miwok Village known as Olompali. The Coast Miwok people endured a long history of devastation brought on by Europeans, including Spanish missions, introduced disease and epidemics, enslavement, and expulsion. In 2000 the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, formerly the Federated Coast Miwok, gained federal recognition. The new tribe consists of people of both Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo descent. Today you can visit the Kule Loklo Coast Miwok Cultural Exhibit (meaning Valley of the Bear), which is an interpretive village that was recreated to honor the people of the Coast Miwok and share some of their history and legacy of the area.
The Coast Miwok were hunter-gatherers, fishers, and known for their basket weaving.
The Snoqualmie people, known as sdukʷalbixʷ in their native language, is a tribe from the Puget Sound area of Washington State and has occupied the area far before explorers arrived and settled. The Snoqualmie people endured a long history of expulsion and in 1953 the tribe lost federal recognition. For many years they tried to secure a reservation on their ancestral lands which bordered the Tolt river, however the land was never granted to them. In 1999 the tribe once again gained recognition which enabled them in 2008 to purchase land near Snoqualmie, Washington, build the Snoqualmie Casino and establish a reservation.
The Snoqualmie were fishers and gatherers, known for their basket weaving and canoe building.
These were the historical lands of the Graton Rancheria and Snoqualmie tribes prior to their involuntary expulsion. They continue to hold the stories of these tribes and their striving for survival and recognition. Making honors and respects the diverse Indigenous peoples connected to these lands where we have gathered and photographed.
Links and Sources
No. 7 / DESERT
We photographed this issue in multiple locations within Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms, California on the lands that several tribes throughout history have called home. For thousands of years the Pinto Culture lived in and around what is now known as Joshua Tree. Later on a tribe known as the Serrano settled the Oasis of Mara, a prominent region of Joshua Tree National Park, a veritable spring that allowed for life to flourish in the often harsh realities of the desert. The Serrano named it Mara, which translates from the native Serrano language to “the place of springs and much grass.” Twentynine Palms, the area where the oasis is located, is said to have been named such because of the 29 palm trees the Serrano planted in the first year they lived there, one for each boy that was born. The story goes that the Serrano came to the oasis because they were directed by a medicine man who told them of it’s beauty, good living conditions, and that they would have many boy babies, and that they were to plant a tree for each boy that was born.
In the late 1860’s the Chemehuevi tribe also settled at the Oasis of Mara, followed by a small band of Cahuilla, peacefully living alongside the Serrano for years. By the 1870’s the gold rush began to make it’s way to the desert, leading to the deforestation of trees, water loss, disease and eventual displacement of the Serrano, Chemehuevi, Cahuilla tribes. By 1913 no Indian families remained.
The Serrano people called themselves Yuhaviatam, which means “people of the pines”. They were later named Serrano by the Spanish settlers who created the Mission System in California with the motive to convert Native Indian tribes to Christianity and enslave them. The Serrano people endured a long history of devastation brought on by Europeans, including Spanish invasion, introduced disease and epidemics, massacres, and expulsion. In 1891 the United States established a reservation for the Serrano, named San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in honor of chief Santos Manuel.
The Serrano were hunter-gatherers and traders, known for their many traditions in material culture, including weaving and pottery.
The Cahuilla people called themselves lvilyuqaletem and resided in the far inlands of southern California. Because of their geographical location the Cahuilla people did not encounter Europeans until the 1770’s, doing their best to avoid the Europeans and providing security against the raids of the tribes from the desert and mountains. After an event known as the Temecula Massacare during the Mexican-American War, a treaty was signed ending the US’s war with Mexico, with the US promising to honor Mexican land grants and policies along with recognizing Native American rights to certain lands. Unfortunately after the annexation of California, invasion of Indian lands continued to increase. The Gold Rush brought an inpouring of miners, other white settlers, and the railroad, eventually leading to the government establishment of a reservation for the Cahuilla, leaving them with a much smaller region than their traditional territories. Today there are multiple groups that are part of the Cahuilla nation, including the Twentynine Palms Band, Agua Caliente Band, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, and many others. These groups play an important role in local economy and infrastructure.
The Cahuilla were hunter-gatherers, with a strong history of weaving and pottery.
The Chemehuevi have occupied the Mojave desert for time immemorial. They call themselves Nuwu, or “The People”. In 1853 the Federal government declared the traditional lands of the Chemehuevi public domain and the people became scattered until reuniting in the Chemehuevi Valley in 1885. Throughout the early to mid 1900’s the Chemehuevi were relocated to various areas by the federal government and their tribe status taken away. Finally after many years of struggle their tribal status was reinstated in 1970. Today there are multiple groups that are part of the Chemehuevi nation, including the Twentynine Palms Band, Agua Caliente Band, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, and many others.
The Chemehuevi were hunter-gatherers, known for their weaving and powwows.
These were the historical lands of the Serrano, Cahuilla, and Chemehuevi tribes prior to their involuntary expulsion. They continue to hold the stories of these tribes and their striving for survival and recognition. Making honors and respects the diverse Indigenous peoples connected to these lands where we have gathered and photographed
What we’ve shared here is just a fraction of the story of these tribes. There is a deep history here, one that should not go unnoticed as it first did for us. When we planned to photograph the issue DESERT we didn’t consider the history of the lands or people, which was a mistake. We realized that we need to do better and have since done a great deal of research and reading, and we’re looking forward to the day we can return to Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms with a new perspective, one more well informed of the people and lands that were their’s long before the area became a trendy tourist destination.
A Chemehuevi Song by Clifford Trafzer
Diversity and Dialogue edited by James H. Nottage
Temalpakh: Cahuilla Indian Knowledge and Usage of Plants by Lowell John Bean and Katherine Siva Saubel