Ramos, director of the California Indian?Cultural Awareness
Conference and San Bernardino County 3rd District Supervisor,
introduced students to traditional bird songs and history
of the indienous people in the region during the 18th annual
California Indian Cultural Awareness Conference. Photo courtesy
Corded headbands made of raffia, bird songs set to the percussion
of gourd rattles and animal hooves, basketry and pottery are just
a few aspects of Native American culture presented to third- and
fourth-graders during the 18th annual California Indian Cultural
Awareness Conference Sept. 18 22 at Cal State San Bernardino.
The weeklong program was designed to provide students an accurate
depiction of the culture and traditions of California's first people,
presented by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Cal State San
Bernardino, and San Bernardino City Unified School District.
Elementary School 4th graders listenly intently to James Ramos,
director of the California Indian Cultural Awareness Conference
and San?Bernardino County 3rd District Supervisor, explain
the significance of bird songs and cleared popular misconceptions
surrounding Native American culture. Photo MJ Duncan
Over 1,500 students from throughout the Inland Empire participated
in the conference where they learned firsthand from tribal members
and elders about Native American traditions including basketry,
plants, music, language and history including Native American accounts
of the mission period of the state's history.
James Ramos, director of the California Indian Cultural Awareness
Conference and San Bernardino County 3rd District Supervisor led
a seminar on traditional Bird Songs, correcting the misconception
that Native Californians used drums and hunted buffalo, the latter
of which is foreign to the area.
Rather, the region's Serrano people used animal hooves of game
animals and gourd rattles, the Me-wuk Tribe in Central California
used clapper sticks, and hunted the bighorn sheep.
"We're here to break some of the misconceptions that people
have, such as all Indians use drums when we actually use flutes
and gourd rattles," Ramos addressed a Kelley Elementary 4th grade
class on Friday. "We didn't hunt buffalo, that's a misidea [sic],
it was the bighorn sheep that was hunted." Ramos further explained
that native songs were sang before the hunt, and today they are
sung to revere and thank the bighorn sheep for feeding the people
and helping them survive.
"Our young people should have more than a simple scratch
the surface' textbook knowledge about the indigenous people in North
America; their trials, tribulations, and their rich history of survival
speaks volumes," said Rialto Unified School District Communications
Director Syeda Jafri. "Our District was extremely proud that our
students were given the opportunity to participate. From the feedback,
it appeared that the students and staff enjoyed it, immensely."
The conference culminated with the celebration of Native American
Day Friday evening with tribes from across the region converging
on the campus, with hundreds of community members in attendance.
"This is an opportunity to educate the community about who we
truly are in the area and to give factual accounts of the sights
and sounds of the California Native Americans," said Ramos. "There's
a misconception that our culture is imbedded in the past when it
is very much alive today."