• I grew up on the rez in the central Sierras of Calif. We lived in a small cabin with the grand parents. We didn't have electricity back then. My grandparents were all born back in the late 1800s, they all still spoke our old language. Lots of kids lived with grandparents back then. We still gathered acorns and other "wild foods" from our culture. Grandpa used to joke that he was living on "wine and doe meat" all winter long. Grandma still made baskets. She often cooked the acorn mush in her cooking baskets. Most of the men who worked worked in the logging industry and in the fields in the farming industry, Many of the younger women worked the fields too. We always seemed to be fighting as kids and as adults too, especially if there was a lot of drinking going on. We had cultural rules about many things that the white people claimed were just superstitions. My parents were victims of the boarding schools era. They were taken from their homes and forced to away to grow up in a school far from home and family and the loving influence of the family. I think that is why there was so much drinking and fighting happening. At least they survived the schools though. many kids died in them. We respect and listen to our elders, although that is not always the case, it is mostly the case, at least up until the meth epidemic hit the rez. Those people started tweeking and they seemed to become not human any more. We are not a reserved people among ourselves, we save that for the outsiders. We like to get together and laugh and have fun. We used to have community events like potlucks and ball games. Fry bread and ndn tacos with hot salsa was always around. Now except for powwows, which are big times that everybody attends, we mostly do family instead of tribal events. Winters are for retelling the old stories we still have left. Much of what we once knew has been lost to us due to the boarding school years. The passing down of language and culture was broken by that event. It was as devastating as the gold rush. Grandma used to tell a story about soldiers coming to fight us and killing her father. She still cried like a little girl when she told us about her experience with the white people. Now, our language has faded away to only 5 or 6 elders who can speak fluently. Although many of us know lots of words we can't speak clearly. We are trying to save it but it seems the kids don't want to do the work to learn it. The language is what separates us from the other tribes of the region. It is our identity

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