Striving for recognition: Nisenan tribe continue outreach efforts with Heritage Day (PHOTO GALLERY) |

Striving for recognition: Nisenan tribe continue outreach efforts with Heritage Day (PHOTO GALLERY)

Ten years ago, many had no knowledge of the Nisenan Native American tribe, let alone knew that they once lived on, hunted, and cared for the land that is now Grass Valley and Nevada City.

Today is a much different story.

The tribe that once had their federal recognition stripped from them in the 1960s, is now front and center in their fight to restore that recognition by raising awareness, instituting a letter writing campaign, and collecting petition signatures.

“Ten years ago, nobody knew who we were. We’re on the tipping point,” Nevada City Rancheria Secretary Shelly Covert said referencing the forward strides of the Nisenan. “It’s really getting momentum and our local community is knowing who we are. Which is the most important thing.”

The Nisenan Heritage Day event held at Sierra College Saturday, has been an important annual event helping to educate the community about the tribe.

Local Nisenan, including tribal elder Richard Johnson, were on hand to show off traditional artifacts from the tribe as well as to demonstrate processes involved in making acorn soup and bread.

Johnson’s new book — “History of Us: Nisenan Tribe of the Nevada City Rancheria” — flew off the shelves and was sold out early on during the event.

Extra copies of the book are available for purchase from Kitkitdizzi in Nevada City.

Covert is hoping that a strong showing of support in the letter writing and signature campaign will help give the Nisenan the push from the community needed to get their Federal recognition back.

“The things that our community comes out for, I’m thinking that this campaign is one of those moments. This is our shared history here,” Covert said. “Life didn’t start at the gold rush and to honor the sovereignty of the Nisenan people, who were here before, and we should have our Federal recognition so we could self govern again.”

“We only have 144 members, we’re tiny, we need our community behind us to amplify our voice. I dream about us having a trust land, having our own land and being sovereign and having our own zip code someday,” Covert said.

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To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez, email, or call 530-477-4230.

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