Tag Archives: Native American

California Tribal TANF Partnership holding Open House December 8

The California Tribal TANF Partnership (CTTP) will be holding an Open House on December 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at their Burney office at 37106 Main Street Suite 2. The office is located next to Zito Media behind the office of Dr. Fred Jones.

December 8 is the second anniversary of the opening of the Burney site. The public is invited to come learn about the vision and mission of CTTP, the services that they offer, and their accomplishments.

The California Tribal TANF Partnership (CTTP) is associated with 20 tribes and other organizations that operate tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs for Native American people. CTTP was established on July 8, 2003 and remains operational under the governing body Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians as lead administrators.

The four stated purposes of TANF are

  • provide assistance for needy families so that children may be cared for in their homes
  • Reduce the dependency of needy persons by promoting job preparation, work and marriage
  • Prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies
  • Encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families

For more information call 530-335-5586


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Hope is Alive! at Billy’s Roadside Cafe

About 50 people gathered at Billy’s Roadside Café in Montgomery Creek on Friday evening October 6 to hear poets and musicians share a message of hope and inspiration.

The program was sponsored by Stand Against Stigma, funded by Shasta County Health and Human Services to address issues associated with mental illness and to provide suicide prevention services. The Hope is Alive! open mics celebrate the theme of healing through  performance arts.  The gathering in Montgomery Creek was the fourth Hope is Alive open mic in the Intermountain Area and the 12th in Shasta County at large.

Marc Dadigan, community education specialist for the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency, emceed the event. The evening performances began with a performance by Randy and Verena Compton followed by the talented Billy Riggins who share some of his original rap music.

Billy Riggins uplifts the audience with his original poetic rap

Mental illness is often associated with substance abuse.

Larry Harris from Redding shares several poignant poems

Poet Larry Harris from Redding shared three poems of personal experience describing the struggles and victory that his family experienced through their daughter’s bout with mental illness. It was a tale of hope prevailing over despair.

After a period of substance abuse resulting in mental breakdown, his daughter successfully went through therapy and recovery and now leads a successful happy life as an actress.

In one particularly poignant poem, Harris talked about his daughter going to a Simon and Garfunkle concert in San Francisco on her own after rehab. Harris shared the emotion a parent goes through as he experiences the restoration of trust, letting go and watching his child emerge as a happy independent young woman.

Michael Bennett and Kimberly Michelle Davis from the Circle of Friends in Burney both sang songs. Bennett charmed people with an a capella rendering of Mac Davis “Oh Lord it’s Hard to be Humble.” Ms. Davis once again delighted the audience as she sang Broadway show tunes in her lovely soprano voice.

A young lady who had traveled two hours to attend got up and recited a short poem.

A highlight of the evening was the personal testimony of David Martinez, a spokesman for Stand Against Stigma’s Brave Faces who has suffered from depression, anxiety and PTSD. Mr. Martinez is a member of the Wintu tribe. He has been a biker, a cowboy and an EMT for the fire department. He has also worked in Redding as a substance abuse counselor. After sharing his story, Martinez shared two popular songs, “Pancho and Lefty,” and “City of New Orleans”.

A testimony and two songs from an elder

Singer-songwriter Mauro livened things up with several of his original songs.

Mauro sings some soul stirring originals

Next, the audience was treated to a performance of Native American Rap by Louis Gustafson and his family. As well as singing, Gustafson also plays bass and performs with Pit Crew. He also is a wonderful drummer who performed at the 2015 Burney Basin Days with the Pit River Nation Drum Group.

Louis Gustafson and his family performing Native American rap

The evening was closed out by Alex Colvin and George Whitfield. Colvin opened with a poem “In This World of Heart and Mind” expressing the healing power of love and then sang “Live for Others.” Alex and George then sang “Ghost Riders in the Sky” together.

Before singing two songs,  “Sounds of Silence” and “Vietnam Song.” George talked about the seriousness of mental illness and suicide plaguing our country. Seventeen veterans die every day from suicide.

“Don’t let stigma stand in your way,” Whitman said, “If you feel like your life is going to pieces, reach out for help.”

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Filed under Art, Hope is Alive!, Mental Health, Montgomery Creek, Pit River Tribe

Shasta county indigenous leaders, and youth to share lessons from standing rock

Press release from Indigenous Peoples’ Day – Shasta County
Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Redding, Calif. – At the FREE “Standing Rock Comes Home” community forum, Shasta County indigenous leaders, educators and youth will discuss their experiences visiting the Standing Rock spiritual camp in North Dakota where indigenous people and supporters have resisted the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. They will also discuss “local DAPLs”, big projects such as the proposed raise of Shasta Dam and Medicine Lake geothermal plants that would damage or flood sacred sites and could risk further contamination of the state’s water supply.

The forum will be held 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28 at the United Methodist Church community room, 1825 East St., in Redding. Following the panel discussion, there will be a potluck dinner and musical performances by Native American hip hop artists, spoken word poets and local folk rock artists Feral Tortie.

Panelists will include:

  • Mickey Gemmill Jr, Chairman of the Pit River Tribe
  • Rod Lindsay, Director of the Local Indians for Education Center in the City of Shasta Lake
  • Jack Potter, Chairman of the Redding Rancheria
  • Caleen Sisk, Traditional Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu

The Dakota Access Pipeline would extend 1,168 miles across many states including North Dakota to carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields to Illinois, where it will link with another pipeline to transport oil to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux, who say the pipeline violates their treaty as well as federal law and that a spill would threaten their water supply, began a spiritual resistance against the pipeline this summer that has brought international attention and support.

This event is organized by Indigenous Peoples’ Day – Shasta County, an organization of Native and non-Native people formed to respectfully promote an accurate and inclusive history of the United States, the West and Northern California that recognizes the humanity and vitality of Pre- and Post-colonial indigenous societies.

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Pit River Tribe to host reader’s theatre and pot luck January 13

Click on flyer to enlarge

Click on flyer to enlarge

On January Friday 13, 2017, there will be a reading of a play entitled “Undamming History.” The event will held from 6-8 p.m. at the Pit River Tribal Community Room in the Pit River Health Services Building located on Park Ave. Burney, CA.

There will also be a pot luck dinner.

The community is invited to “Bring a dish and join an informal script read of the play about local tribal history that debuted Oct. 22 at the Cascade Theater. Have fun while learning about indigenous history!”

The Shasta Historical Society and four tribes in the area collaborated to create the work.

Marc Dadigan, Jack Potter, Louise Davis, Jessica Jim and others who were part of the committee that produced the play will be in attendance. Some of the actors who played roles at the debut in Redding are also planning to come. In addition, Patricia Lord from the Shasta Historical Society will be present and perhaps speak about the resources the society can provide.

If you would like more information on the program, please email marcdadigan@gmail.com. A copy of the script is available on the Shasta Historical Society’s website.

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BLM hosts archaeology teach-in at Pit 1

On Saturday October 17, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a free public archaeology day at BLM campground at Pit 1 just off Hwy 299 between Fall River Mills and Burney. The event was sponsored as part of California Archaeology Month.

BLM archaeology event

BLM archaeology event

Archaeology month is a national program designed to increase the public’s knowledge of our country’s  past.  Each state chooses a month to provide educational materials and hold events in schools and for the public to increase awareness of our archaeological past. The Society for California Archaeology sponsors California Archaeology Month in October.

In Northeastern California, BLM field offices for the Redding, Eagle Lake, and

Applegate districts cooperate to hold a public archaeology day each year. The events are held in a different location rotating between the three offices.

More than a dozen archaeologists, archaeology technicians, and interns from BLM, the US Forest Service (USFS) and Conservation and Land Management (CLM) volunteered there time, knowledge and expertise at this year’s event.

Archaeologists David “Jack” Scott, Devin Snyder and Jennifer Rovenpera came from the Applegate Field Office, accompanied by archaeology technicians Aimee VanHavermaat-Snyder, Christine O’Neill, Jenna Matthews and Lowell Thomas.

Archaeologists Sharynn-Marie Blood and Marilla Martin came from the  Eagle Lake field office. Sharynn Blood is the Program Lead for Cultural Resources at Eagle Lake. The Redding BLM field office was represented by archaeologist Eric Ritter.

Blood explaining local flora

Blood explaining local flora

The USFS was represented by archaeologists Adam Guitierrez from the Almanor Ranger District, Alden Neel from the Hat Creek District, plus archaeology technician Jake Martin from Eagle Lake District.

Two CLM interns from the Alturas Office, Jaileem Merced, and Nate Collison also staffed the event.

The Pit River Tribe also supported the event and several members of the Payute tribe from Surprise Valley also came to participate.

VanHavermaat-Snyder from the Eagle Lake field office helped to organize this year’s event. She said, “This event was really important for us as we wanted to give the public the opportunity to experience archaeology hands-on.”

Vanhavermaat-Snyder explaining the event

VanHavermaat-Snyder explaining the event

The day began with a downpour of much needed rain, but the organizers were undaunted. They set to work building a willow-branch frame for a traditional Northern Payute no-bi and putting up canopies under which to host educational displays for seven stations of “hands-on” learning.

Payute elder observes building of willow frame for a no-bi

Payute elder observes building of willow frame for a no-bi

The stations were designed so the trained archaeologists and botanists could provide adults and children with a fun, informative experience of archaeological skills, Native American culture, and local flora.

Scott taught people to hurl use an atlatl

Scott teaching Lisa to hurl an atlatl

Shortly after 10 a.m., the rain stopped and visitors began to arrive. Activities included building a traditional Northern Payute no-bi, artifact excavation, atlatl-throwing, acorn-grinding, rock-art, tule-weaving, flint-knapping, working with bone tools and bone identification.

Acorn grinding

Acorn grinding

Excavation skills were focused on modern-made artifacts. Visitors were advised that if they found an old artifact they should not deface it or remove it from the site. Removing an artifact from a site destroys it’s provenience and thus decreases it’s archaeological value. In order to fully understand the significance of an object it is important to know its context and location.

Manlla Martin teaching excavation

Teaching excavation skills

The Martins helped to explain techniques of digging and sifting for artifacts.



One fun event was rock painting. There are numerous sites in Northern California where rock pictographs are found. The  language of rock painting is not yet fully understood. Interpretation may involve elements of communication, artistic expression, story telling, and shamanic symbolism. Although some symbols may be universal, others are related to specific tribal nations, historical periods and geographical locations. Therefore, the insight and understanding of tribal elders and cultural officials is essential to penetrating the veil of the past.


Rock painting

Another fun and challenging exhibit was flint-knapping. Using a heavy rock, one strikes a piece of obsidian at an angle to cause the obsidian to splinter into pieces which can then be further chipped with bone tools such as deer antler to produce arrowheads, knives and other tools.



Meanwhile construction of the no-bi continued as mats of tule reed were added to the willow frame.

BLM members proudly standing by an almost-done no-bi

BLM members proudly standing by an almost-done no-bi

One of the delights of the day was meeting such an interesting group of people hosting the event. To give a few examples, Rovanpera, who spent most of the day working on and explaining the no-bi, did her master’s thesis working at a site that was thousands of years old in Northern Minnesota. Ms. Martin worked for her thesis on a site in the Caribbean. Dr. Scott has worked on several excavations in Mexico. Thomas is a musician as well as an archeology technician and thus complements his scientific training with an artist’s intuition. Botanist Merced hails from Puerto Rico and was happy to help me improve my Spanish as we talked.

Jen Rovanpera with no-bi sign

Rovanpera with no-bi sign

Everyone who attended brought their own knowledge and experience. As the day passed, conversation buzzed at each of the booths stringing together pearls of wisdom with practical experience to create a friendly bond of understanding.

Speaking of stringing things together, every child who attended received a bead at each station. When they left they had a nice little bracelet symbolizing the fruit of their accomplishment.

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Fishing McCloud Lower Falls

Driving up to Mt Shasta on August 26, I asked my daughter if she would like to see the Lower Falls of the McCloud River. She said she would, so we turned off of Hwy 89 onto the McCloud River Loop and headed down to the falls, also called Fowler Falls.

Fowler Falls

Fowler Falls

Oftentimes when I visit these falls in the summer I see lots of young people diving or jumping off of the rocks into the pool, but on this day I saw no swimmers. Instead, I witnessed four young men fishing from the rocks by the waterfall.

Fishing the falls

Fishing the falls

The McCloud River is the traditional home territory of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. History of Lower FallsThe Wintu name for the falls is Nurunwitipum, which means “falls where the salmon turn back.” During the warm summer season, there was a village here and the Winnemem Wintu fished and hunted around the Lower Falls. The McCloud continued to be rich in salmon, steelhead and native wild trout until the closing of the gates of Shasta Dam in 1943.

Since that time, salmon have been unable to migrate into the Upper Sacramento, Pit, McCloud and other tributary streams, eliminating a large portion of the best salmon habitat in the Sacramento basin. Shasta Dam also flooded 90 percent of the traditional territory of the Winnemem Wintu people.

Shasta Dam has provided a lot of electricity, facilitated water management, and provided jobs and recreational opportunities for the people of California, but my heart and tears pour out for the native Wintu people.

Nowadays, the gorgeous area continues to be a popular site for hiking, swimming, camping, and fishing. The river is stocked with rainbow trout for the licensed fishing public. I watched the young boy diligently fishing from above the falls.

Boy fishing by Fowler Falls

Boy fishing by Fowler Falls

As time went by, one of the fishermen assumed a more relaxed posture.

A relaxed fishing style

A relaxed fishing style

Meanwhile above the falls, visitors were enjoying hiking, walking their dogs, taking pictures, meeting one another and conversing.

Humans and dogs above the falls

Humans and dogs meet above the fall

As I was taking pictures a local resident came up to watch, wondering whether or not I might toss him a little treat.

Feed me

Feed me

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Filed under Fishing, McCloud River, Shasta Dam, Waterfalls, Wintu

Local Musicians Entertain at 2015 July 4th Fireworks Program

Article by Alex Colvin; photos and videos by Linda Colvin

The wonderful Burney fireworks display is always one of the highlights of Burney Basin Days.  After a day of parades, barbecues, shows, and festivities; the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air bring the day to a dazzling conclusion. The fireworks program is organized and hosted by The Rotary Club of Burney and Fall River Mills.

4th of July Fireworks at Burney High School

4th of July Fireworks at Burney High School

Before the fireworks there is a full pre-fireworks program. The new Burney Basin Days Queen and her court are introduced.  The new Honorary Mayor of Burney is also recognized. Music is played and announcements are made.  Sponsors and vendors are recognized.

Bill Campbell introduces The 2015 Honorary Mayor of Burney and Basin Days Royalty

Bill Campbell introduces The 2015 Honorary Mayor of Burney and Basin Days Royalty

For the 2015 Basin Days Fireworks Program, something new was added. At the February meeting of the Burney Basin Days committee, George Whitfield suggested having an open mic at the fireworks program and the idea was approved. George asked me if I would host the open mic. At the April meeting, the committee decided that instead of having an open mike, we would feature a showcase of local musical artists who wished to volunteer their time and talent.

Kermit Minor Adjusting the Sound for the Pit River Nation Drum Group

Kermit Minor Adjusting the Sound for the Pit River Nation Drum Group

This article gives a glimpse of some of the entertainment provided as a result. Performers are introduced in the order that they appeared on the stage. The MC for the event and overall organizer of the fireworks program was Bill Campbell of the Rotary Club. My wife, Linda Colvin, was busy taking both videos and photographs. She couldn’t capture every song. However, the sampling she did record, provides a good taste of the happening for those who were unable to attend and for posterity. Kermit “Butch” Minor, assisted by his wife and son, did an excellent jot of providing sound for the program.

Naturally, since George came up with the idea, he was one of the first on the list. George is a past president of the Lions Club. He used to perform with the Burney Basin Band. George and I decided that we would share a spot to kick the program off.

I met Jeff McNeil at a joint social of the Burney and Fall River Chamber of Commerces at the Clearwater Lodge in the Spring. He was singing “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard. Jeff recently moved to the Intermountain area. He has been a blacksmith and a cowboy for 35 years. He also served as a trail guide in the Sierras. Jeff has been playing music for a long time and knows a wealth of cowboy and country tunes. When I asked him if he would like to play in the talent showcase  he readily volunteered.

Jeff McNiel at the Burney Basin Days Fireworks Program

Jeff McNiel at the Burney Basin Days Fireworks Program

We didn’t get a video of Jeff’s wonderful performance. However, he has been playing at the Rex Club and the Fall River Hotel. If you stop in, you can experience for yourself why he got a call for an encore and hoops and hollers of appreciation after he performed.

One of the first groups to volunteer to play were Martin and Vicky McAbee. Marty and Vicky have been playing at local churches, the community center, and local open mics. They wrote the song “Ring the Bells of Freedom” for this event.

Gerry Goldman and Honey Storlee are becoming well known in Northern California music circles. They play as a duo and with a group named the Mountain Messengers. They were recently featured on the Round Mountain public radio station and regularly play at the Farmer’s Market in Redding and local festivals. Honey lives in Redding and studies ministry at the Bethel Church. She loves sharing her musical gift. Jerry plays guitar and banjo and has accompanied many musicians in the Intermountain area.

No representation of local talent would be complete without music from the members of the Pit River Tribe. The Pit River Basin  is their hereditary homeland. Each year the Pit River Tribe sponsors a Pow-Wow that brings people from all over the West to Burney. I was so happy when Ira Winn agreed to ask the Pit River Nation Drum Group play at the fireworks show. Ira introduces the members of the group in the video.

After they had played and sung a couple of songs of honor and blessing, Ira got a spontaneous inspiration. He called to his cousin Crystal Flores, the 2015 Burney Basin Days Queen, to lead a Round Dance. The Round Dance is a traditional dance of friendship.

The final act of the Talent Showcase was a joint concert by band members from Burney and Fall River Mills High Schools organized and directed by Hugo Castro. Mr. Castro is the music teacher at both schools. When I first contacted him in the Spring, Hugo was busy organizing four concerts for the end of the school year. On the last day of school, we spoke again and he proceeded to put together a program combining some of his best students from both programs. It was wonderful to have such talented young people perform, rounding out the program with a special flare.

Many thanks to the Burney Basin Days Committee and the Rotary Club of Burney and Fall River Mills for including the Talent Showcase in this year’s program. Thanks to all of the performers who donated their time and talent, and to Kermit to making it all sound so good. Thank you very much to the school district and Burney High School for the use of the football field.  I would especially like to thank Jill Barnett, the Chairperson of the 2015 Burney Basin Days Committee, for all her work coordinating and supporting all of the events sponsored by all of the organizations, businesses, and individuals who worked long and hard to make the 2015 Burney Basin Days a success!

Alex Colvin is co-owner of The Lace Gallery in Burney, California. He previously wrote for non-profit corporations in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Since returning to Burney, where he has deep family roots, Alex and his wife Linda have dedicated themselves to exploring and photographing the natural beauty of Northern California.

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Filed under Burney, Burney Basin Days, Music, Pit River Country Events, Pit River Tribe, Rotary Club of Burney-Fall River, Video