Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Speaking on a Native American reservation

In February 2015, I spoke at the Charlotte S. Huck Children’s Literature Festival in Redlands, CA, at which I met Cathy Knowles. She kindly invited me back to the area, an invitation which marked a first for me.

Cathy works for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, also known as the Yuhaviatam—the “people of the pines.” Most employees of the tribe are not members of the tribe. The tribe has a lovely reservation on a hillside, complete with handsome houses, a casino, a fire station, and a playground. (Shamefully, this land was “given” to the tribe because of its steepness—it was considered it the least useful land in the area. San Manuel proved that wrong.)

But the reservation does not have a school. So on 9/10/15, I spoke at schools in the area whose population includes some members of the San Manuel tribe. I also spoke to two groups on the reservation itself, young children and high schoolers. I was honored to learn a bit about the tribe’s culture, including its endangered language (only one native speaker is still alive; the tribe is working tirelessly and inventively to preserve it).

Thank you to Cathy and the tribe for being such gracious hosts. Looking forward to coming back!

In certain areas of the reservation, photographs are off-limits. But here are sanctioned glimpses of my day with the Yuhaviatam:

 the community center on the reservation,
where I spoke to a group of teens

 community center close-up

 the setup for my dinner talk to high schoolers

 tables set up in the room where I spoke

 material the tribe produced in conjunction with my appearance,
including mini-comics in both Serrano (the tribe language) and 
English; a poster featuring DC Comics Native American characters
Man-of-Bats and his sidekick Little Raven (Sioux); and 
custom-made wooden medallions with the logos of 
Man-of-Bats and Little Raven

 side 1: Man-of-Bats

  side 2: Little Raven

 one medallion was hand-painted, but it proved too difficult
to do for all of them


 top one reads “This looks like a job for Superman”
in Serrano

 the books I signed for the tribe the night before; as you see,
I should have started earlier

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