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October 11, 2012
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Nisenan Heritage Day celebrates native culture

For the first time, the Nevada City Rancheria is inviting the community to Nisenan Heritage Day to share knowledge and culture at an event it hopes will set history’s record straight.

“The community doesn’t know who their indigenous people are. It’s partly our fault. We’ve been in the shadows … We just really want people to know we’re here,” said Shelly Covert, tribal council secretary and cultural outreach spokesperson for the Nevada City Rancheria.

President Woodrow Wilson created the 70-acre Rancheria on Cement Hill in 1913. The Rancheria was terminated in 1964. Today, there are 80 enrolled members of the Nevada City Rancheria, with 80 more pending certification.

Tribal members are seeking to have federal recognition of their tribe restored.

Nisenan Heritage Day is a free event scheduled for Saturday at the Miner’s Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City.

It is co-hosted by the Nevada City Rancheria and the California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project (CHIRP), an organization founded by Native American artist Judith Lowry.

“This is a purely California native culture event,” Lowry said.

An artifact symposium hosted by Nevada County Historical Society kicks off the day with registration starting at 8 a.m.

The California Indian Basketweavers, the Native Daughters of the Golden West, Sierra Streams Institute, California Indian jewelers and others will set up booths at the event. The Colfax Todd Valley Tribe will provide Indian Tacos for sale at 12:30 p.m.

Nevada City Rancheria Tribal Chairman Richard Johnson will lead two tours in the Firehouse No. 1 Museum where Nisenan artifacts are on display.

Johnson will introduce the remaining Nisenan Elders, Native American dancers, special guests and Nevada City Rancheria Tribal Council members.

In the afternoon, attendees can choose from a number of presentations on contemporary Native American art, the California Indian treaties of 1851, the Nisenan language, Indigenous archeology and the cosmos, history of the Nevada City Rancheria termination and more.

An evening of dancing and music by the Debora Iyall Band and Shelly Covert & UnderCover begins at 5:30 p.m. with a cover charge of $10. A “no-host” bar is available with the program.

Tickets are available online:, at the Nevada City Box Office (530) 265-5462, at BriarPatch Co-Op and at the door.
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“The community doesn’t know who their indigenous people are. It’s partly our fault. We’ve been in the shadows … We just really want people to know we’re here.”
— Shelly Covert,
tribal council secretary\/cultural outreach for Nevada City Rancheria

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The Union Updated Aug 20, 2014 03:25PM Published Oct 11, 2012 04:37PM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.