Making Tribal History at the Pinoleville Pomo Nation
A standout highlight for the San Francisco StoryBooth recording team this summer was our two-day recording trip to the Pinoleville Pomo Nation, the reservation of the Pinoleville Pomo people indigenous to the Ukiah, CA, area. Invited by the tribe’s Environmental Director, David Edmunds, Site Supervisor Natalia Fidelholtz and I took the trip about two hours north of San Francisco. Like most StoryCorps interviews, each conversation touched on a range of themes, though the thread that ran throughout was the importance of documenting stories of Pomo tribal history in the area, particularly those of community elders and leaders like Violet Carpello Renick (interviewed by David Edmunds) and Tribal Chairwoman Leona Williams (shown with her daughters Lenora Dawn Brown-Steele and Angela James).
In recent years, the younger generation of the tribe has taken the lead on reviving of the traditional cultural Pomo practices, including their dance, language, and more environmentally-sustainable building and planting approaches. Nathan Rich recorded a conversation with Linda Noel, poet and Social Services Coordinator for the tribe, and talked about his love of the natural world and commitment to taking care of the tribe’s land.
Now with kids of their own, Nathan’s generation has been teaching and incorporating these practices into the tribe’s programs. In one interview, Cassandra Steele, Julian “Mijo” Jose Maldonado, and Erica Carlson talked with siblings Julia Maldonado, 7, and Julian Maldonado Jr., 6, about the meaning of teaching children their traditional dances and songs, the practice of which was illegal just two generations ago. The interviews were the first oral histories recorded of this generation of the Pinoleville Pomo tribe, making them a significant piece of tribal history and a precious archive for future generations of Pinoleville Pomo tribal members.
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