Be native! cultural event returns to Kaweah Oaks Preserve

On Saturday May 14, 2022, the Go Native! The cultural event, a celebration of the Native American Yokut tribe and their arts, culture and cuisine, will take place at Kaweah Oaks Preserve. This event, with the support of sponsors Sequoia Riverlands Trust and Visit Visalia, will provide the public with a rare opportunity to meet the indigenous peoples of this region who continue to celebrate their living culture.

For thousands of years, the many Yokut Native American tribes of central California called this area home. To ensure that their way of life does not disappear from public view, tribesmen hold cultural events as an opportunity for the public to learn about their culture through basket weaving demonstrations, crafts like crib boards and fish traps and drum rings.

“The Go Native! The event is important because it reminds people that we are still here,” said event organizer Jennifer Malone of the local Wukchumni tribe. “We continue our ceremonies, our basketry and our language. We want to share all of this.

Ms Malone’s mother, Marie Wilcox, who died in September 2021, was the last to speak the Wukchumni language fluently. She has been celebrated for her work creating a dictionary of the language, including recording herself speaking it so that younger generations can learn and carry on her legacy. While the Yokut way of life may have faded from view, it hasn’t completely disappeared with events like the Go Native! Event.

“There are many examples of Native American culture in our area that visitors can view, such as the Hospital Rock pictographs in nearby Sequoia State Park or the collection of woven baskets on display at the Tulare County Museum here in Visalia” , said Nellie Freeborn, Executive Director. of Visit Visalia. But Freeborn says the Go Native! event offers participants a unique opportunity. “Through hands-on experiences and interactions with Yokuts tribesmen, visitors can not just ‘see’ but can ‘do’ for an unforgettable immersive experience.”

Cultural events allow travelers to explore the complexity of a community, which can enhance vacations. While most people visit Visalia because of its proximity to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, there are many other places, attractions, and activities in the community that can complement a trip to the parks.

Kaweah Oaks Preserve is one of many properties protected by the Sequoia Riverlands Trust which has sponsored and supported the event for many years.

“Our support for Go Native! reflects our commitment to offering our conservation lands for Yokut cultural activities,” said Aaron Collins, SRT’s director of marketing and communications. “They continue to teach us about native plants and historic practices on these important lands, which shows generosity and a sincere desire for understanding and awareness.”

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