Ohlone Elders and Youth Speak: Restoring a California Legacy

September 5, 2014

Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282; Michelle.Jeffers@sfpl.org

Ohlone Elders and Youth Speak: Restoring a California Legacy

Exhibition on 21st Century Challenges for California Native People Opens Sept. 27

The efforts of three generations of Ohlone people, living in California and committed to keeping their native cultures alive and thriving, are documented through new photographic images and oral histories that illuminate their life experiences. The exhibition, Ohlone Elders and Youth Speak: Restoring a California Legacy, chronicling the on-going cultural revitalization process taking place within the Ohlone communities, opens Sept. 27 in the Main Library’s Jewett Gallery.

The story is told through 22 stunning photographic portraits, representing multiple Ohlone generations, accompanied by excerpts from their oral histories. “I would love to see all the Ohlone descendants collectively come together and share the knowledge that we have with each other and partake in ceremony, and to do it in a good way so we truly do honor our ancestors.”

Ann Marie Sayers, Mutsun Ohlone Tribal Chairperson, Indian Canyon Nation and Founder of Costanoan Indian Research, Inc. “Perhaps the youth may come to the conclusion that if we want to make a difference, we will have to do so collectively.”

Today, the Ohlone live between two cultures that are often in opposition with one another. Challenges facing the 21st-century Ohlone include: protection of burial and other sacred sites; ensuring an accurate depiction of the history of California Native people; showcasing the significance of the arts and crafts revival; and creating a vision for the future for the Ohlone peoples. The active role of youth has been critical to this process.

Kanyon Sayers-Roods, also of Indian Canyon Nation, also gives voice to the youth. “I appreciate this chance I’ve been given: to realize I’m Ohlone, that I’m on the land where my great-great-grandparents survived, and to be who I am today.  By honoring the past and continuing my education as well as always respecting my elders and learning from them, I can gain more knowledge and then be able to share that knowledge with our youth.”

The Ohlone Elders and Youth Speak: Restoring a California Legacy project is produced by Costanoan Indian Research, Inc. and Community Works, with Ann Marie Sayers, Project Director; Ruth Morgan, Photographer; and Janet Clinger, Oral Historian.

The Main Library exhibition and programs are partially funded by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

For more information about these and other library programs, please call (415) 557-4277.

Exhibition and Oral Histories – Ohlone Elders and Youth Speak: Restoring a California Legacy –Sept. 27 – Jan. 4, Main Library, Jewett Gallery.

Opening Event – Ohlone Dance, Song and Panel Discussion – Oct. 12, 1 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium. Hosted by Ann-Marie Sayers, the program features a panel discussion moderated by Melissa Nelson, the Director of The Cultural Conservancy, with panelists Tony Cerda, Corrina Gould, Vincent Medina, Kanyon Sayers-Roods and Linda Yamane.

An Evening with Contemporary Ohlone Artists – Oct. 15, 6 p.m., Main Library, Latino/Hispanic Community Room. Join us for an evening exploring contemporary Ohlone art, paintings, drawings, multi-media expressions, and some surprises. Hosted by Kanyon Sayers-Rood; meet the artists and find out more about their unique perspectives.

Native California Spoken Word – Nov. 20, 6 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium. Spoken Word is a medium for expression. Listen to song, poetry, stories, thoughts, and ideas in languages native to California, with no English translations needed.