Our Peoples Treasures, 2020.
SSBMI Community Installation: Malissa Tayaba, Sophia Olvera, Daniel Burnett, Olyvia Calanchini, Jacky Calanchini, SSBMI TEK Department

The confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers is a special place. Physically speaking it lays somewhere in the middle of the entire water shed of California. This confluence was a place of connectivity and opportunity. Before the early 1800’s it was home to the Nissim Pawenan people. The Nissim Pawenan are the first people of this region and at the confluence sits the original village, Pushune.

Pushune was a fishing village and home to the Nissim Pawenan. Pushune still silently exists, it holds the memories, the connection and the responsibility to the land. This area, part of the largest west coast estuary, was rich in animal and plant life, and the water ran freely throughout the region. The Tribal people had relationships with all of these living beings. Every bird, plant, bug and water system was undisturbed and plentiful. This area provided an ecosystem, a village life rich with food and resources. Some of the earliest written accounts described a garden or paradise. Now our garden has changed.

The confluence today is very different, it now holds only what is left. Once abundant, now we are barely hanging on to what remains of our traditional way of life. The King Salmon are gone but we are waiting for them to come back home. The willow, cottonwood, sedge, elderberry and oaks…many plants and animals are at risk and could possibly not be here one day.

The confluence for our tribal people is a representation of the work that needs to be done to protect, preserve, and restore what is left to what was. Who takes care of the land, water and environment and who ensures the animals are okay? The confluence provided a beautiful way of life for our tribal people and we understand that we have a responsibility as the original caretakers of this land. We want to take care of it because it is alive and needs our help.

Whatever happens to land will happen to us. The ones who cannot speak for themselves need our help. We need to enhance the region of the confluence for our future generations to enjoy and practice their way of life as river people. The Salmon are waiting to return home, and they need to us to help restore it.

from left to right, top to bottom

• Rose Hips with Twined Juncus Basket, Malissa Tayaba
• Olivella Shells, Sophia Olvera
• Kadema Fresh Water Clams, TEK Department
• Dogbane, Milkweed and Tule Fiber Cordage, Daniel Burnett
• Abalone shell arrangement by Olyvia Calanchini
• Black Oak Acorns, TEK Department
• Abalone Pendant with Ocean Tumbles Shells, Jacky Calanchini
• Walnut Dice, TEK Department
• Olivella Shells, Jacky Calanchini

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