Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Plants & People: an Evening with an Expert- Stan Rodriguez

-Anne C. Morgan, Head Curator

Stan Rodriguez talks about native plants
This Saturday our members had the exciting opportunity to enjoy an evening with Stan Rodriguez and learn more about the plants native to our region and how they are traditionally used by the Kumeyaay.  Stan is a teacher at the Kumeyaay Community College on the Sycuan reservation, and a member of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel.  Stan is known for his engaging story-telling and wide knowledge on a vast number of subjects.

For this evening, Stan spoke with 23 members about different plants that they often see when out hiking, and how they are traditionally used.  "The desert may look barren, but there is so much here when you look." he said.  "We call it the Kumeyaay grocery store."

Stan Rodriguez
He described gathering and roasting agave, which tastes "like a cross between a pineapple and a yam" and is used for fiber as well as food.   Desert cactus, like the "confounding" cholla, can be roasted easily- "but take the stickers off first!" Stan also banished the myth of the cactus as a source of water in the desert, explaining that while the plant might be edible the water found in the barrel cactus is extremely high in alkaline and toxic to drink.

The evening was capped off with a traditional Kumeyaay stick game, which will be set up for children (and adults!) to play at the museum's Shawii Day on Saturday October 11 from 2-5pm.  There was fierce competition among the adults, and we enjoyed it so much we feel sure everyone who comes on Saturday will too!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Latino Health Awareness Month

This Friday we participated in Latino Health Awareness Month Community Resource Fair. Sponsored by the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch and the Imperial Valley Food Bank, the theme was "healthy living". Participants accrued raffle tickets as they walked the mall and spoke to organizations like the Museum, Starts with Arts, IID, the Public Health Office, Border Patrol, and several others.

The Museum dispersed hiking info from the groups we work with and I shared some of my own hiking photos. We also made a small presentation announcing the new exhibit opening in Spring 2015.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fun with Ceramics: an Evening with an Expert- Dr. Suzanne Griset

-Anne C. Morgan, Head Curator

Dr. Suzanne Griset explores the Museum ceramics collection with members
On Saturday we had the pleasure of having Dr. Suzanne Griset join us for a day of fun with ceramics.  Suzanne, the principle investigator and project manager with SWCA, is an expert on the ceramics of Southern California.  She was kind enough to work with us during the day, answering questions we had about clay in general and pieces of our collection in particular.   She also joined us for a Members-only Evening with an Expert and gave a presentation to 23 Museum members who wanted to learn more about our collection.

As we work to prepare our collection of ollas for display in the new permanent exhibit (opening Spring 2015) her insight was incredibly helpful.

We learned some fascinating ceramic facts from Dr. Griset:

This jar bottom became a bowl after breaking
  • Pottery probably came to the San Diego area by about 900 CE (Common Era), and made it to the Imperial Valley by 1000  
  • Handles are not seen on vessels in Southern California before Spanish Contact in 1540
  • Cracks in vessels can be repaired by drilling small holes on either side of the crack and lacing together with yucca fiber or sinew
  • Water jars have a life span of about 2 years where they will keep water cool.  After 2 years salts penetrate the clay and it no longer cools water.  They can be reused as something else, like cooking pots 
  • Stucco on pots lowers the thermal fracturing of clay- which makes it ideal for cooking pots that are in and out of the fire frequently!
  • After 1880 the railroad brought new people to the Southwest.  Tribes began selling pottery to the tourists and copying styles that sold well.  The forms and designs of the Maricopa peoples became particularly popular

Maricopa style ceramic frog

Want to learn more about ceramics?  Look for our Land of Extremes article in tomorrow's Imperial Valley Press!

Dr. Suzanne Griset with a few of the pots you'll see in our permanent exhibit-Spring 2015!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September Society Notes- out now!

Daughter of the Desert- Ingrid Vigeant

-from the Interim Head Curator

It's hard to believe another month has gone by.  We are now half way through our eight week traveling exhibit Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast.  We've held a few events - many members only, and have a few more to go in connection with this great exhibit.

If you haven't been out yet, think of bringing the family.  We are offering coiled clay programs on Saturdays as well as other kid's activities to make your weekend fun.  Or come during the week and enjoy a quieter atmosphere as you explore the foods of California and how they have traditionally been prepared.

Keeping you up to date on things- here's our next newsletter!
Society Notes: September 2014 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bob Price

I was devastated to hear today that Bob Price past away early this morning. Bob and Myra were regular volunteers at the Museum. Bob diligently curated in the lab and has credit for thousands of re-curated artifacts and hundreds of hours keeping me company in the lab while Myra manned the front desk. I never saw Myra without Bob or Bob without Myra, and Bob always got in trouble if he stopped for lunch without telling Myra he was taking a break. I know his absence is felt heavy in Jacumba, as it is here. The lab feels very empty today.

Services will be held in Alpine on Sept 20th, with a memorial service being scheduled in Jacumba later this month. The Museum can be contacted for further details.

Bob always refused to be photographed,
but when have I ever listened? I managed
to snap this one photo toward the end of the
curation process - you can see him in the
background, full center, and focused on the task at hand.