FALL 2014 – SJSU Student Projects with Tribes

This semester’s Nature and World Cultures students outdid themselves with substantive, professional work: projects focusing on the challenges of retaining and revitalizing biocultural diversity (ancestral lands and waters, culturally significant biota, indigenous languages), in collaboration with Northern Californian tribes.


Ohlone microdocCalifornia Native Americans: Ohlone Costanoan Esselen NationYouTube video by Mary Yang, Jordan Zuchowski, and Catherine Utman

Also see: two new Winnemen Wintu Microdocumentaries on YouTube: short and long. Plus, an ultra-cool Prezi on the Hoopa Tribe and the Salmon.


HowWeGotOurHandsHow We Got Our Hands: A Wukchumni Story of Origin, told by Marie Wilcox. YouTube video by Nick Bellin, Jeff Hartung, Patrick Bacungan, Itzel Coronel, and Sami Boutros.

Whale and the SalmonThe Whale in the Creek: A Kashaya Pomo Story, told by Herman James. YouTube video by Dennis Yu, Janie Dusenberry, Lauren Malady, Patricia Andrews and Edgar Garibay.

Coyote & Two GirlsCoyote and the Two Girls: A Kashaya Pomo Story, told by Herman James. One Video by Ekaterine Franco, Amanda Morgan, Amelin Norzamini, Cori Majewski, and Jaskaran Dhami.

Also see: How the Ocean was Created (Kashaya Pomo, Herman James) on YouTube.

FALL 2014 – All Our Relations

Our Fragile EnvironmentMy essay entitled “All Our Relations” is one of two non-fiction essays in the Bellevue Literary Review issue devoted to Our Fragile Environment.

“In university I was taught to scientifically classify organisms within the Tree of Life, dividing them into Kingdom, Phyla, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. A series of evolutionary events leading to us, the top-of-the-food-chain humans. In many ways this is helpful. In other ways it is not. Categorically separating ourselves from life-giving biota is potentially a suicidal act. We have another choice. When my Native California friends speak of Salmon Nations, they are not only referring to their tribal identity and their dependence on salmon. They are also speaking of the salmon people who return to spawn in sacred waterways: the Chinook, coho, chum, pink, sockeye. The Gwich’in believe they share a heart with the Caribou Nation, and treat the caribou, and their ancestral habitats, accordingly….”

The issue contains pithy prose, fascinating poetry, and a number of stories one wouldn’t ordinarily find in a journal published by a medical school (!!). You can order your copy here.

SUMMER 2014 – Protecting the Clear Lake Hitch

On August 6th, 2014 the California Fish & Game Commission vote unanimously to designate the Clear Lake Hitch (Lavinia exilicauda chi), an endemic minnow of cultural and ecological significance, as a threatened species in California.

Conservationists from the Center for Biological Diversity filed the initial petition. Volunteers with the Chi Council for the Clear Lake Hitch provided recent survey data. Tribal members from bands surrounding Clear Lake drove to San Diego and testified.

And my newest film was shown:

SPRING 2014 – A taste of my upcoming book!

The first excerpt to be published from my forthcoming book, The Language of Endangered Hearts, appears in the inaugural issue of Between the Lines, the new literary journal from Holy Names University in Oakland.

The story, “Yes,” recounts a consultancy visit to Sumba Island, eastern Indonesia, where I clashed horns with a shrill-voiced propinsi pipsqueak:

“Beady eyes and oily skin occupied a dull khaki uniform that was exchanged in the field for cowboy-style shirts unbuttoned to expose a soft and flabby chest, a pair of pristine denim jeans evidencing his allergy to any productive, soil-based activity, and snakeskin boots, raising his four-foot-something frame a few irrelevant centimeters.”

Read on to hear how good triumphed over evil. Sort of.