Konkow Wailaki Maidu Indian Cultural Preservation Association

Konkow Wailaki Maidu arts and culture

The Konkow Valley Maidu’s ancestors lived along the various streams and tributaries of the Feather River in the area that is now Butte County.  First contact with Euro-Americans in the 1830s brought diseases that killed many Konkow Maidu.  The results of the gold rush of 1849 were devastating to the native peoples; the miners and settlers coming into the area led tp predation on the native’s traditional food sources resulting in starvation.  Continued discrimination by the newly formed State of California resulted in the relocaiton of many Maidu to the Round Valley Reservation in 1863.  Today, members of the Konkow Valley Band of Maidu continue to work to revitalize and preserve their culture and traditions.

In 2014, the the Konkow Wailaki Maidu Indian Cultural Preservation Association received a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program to initiate a “lending library” of dance regalia pieces and language lessons developed aroud the process of making regalia and its cultural significance.  Usually, a dancer will accumulate their own personal regalia as they develop as a dancer.  The Associations “library” of regalia will enable youth and newcomers to participate in the dances prior to having their own regalia.  Additionally, recorded instructions for producing these regalia items will be open to anyone sishing to compile their own set of regalia.

In 2011, ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program provided support for a project utilizing language teaching materials in the context of cultural experiences to expose tribal members to traditional songs, dance, and language, all of which are inextricably interconnected.  Centered around two family campouts in the traditional Konkow Wailaki Maidu homeland territory where the language developed, three culture bearers who are semi-fluent will be central to the development of the work to keep the language, songs, and stories alive.  Kate Hedges, project director and tribal secretary notes, “There is a growing awareness of the critical condition of the sustainability of the culture within the tribal community.  There is a realization that without active revitalization efforts now, the cultural traditions of dance, song and language will be lost.”

In 2008, the Association recieved support from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program for their Koyongk’awi Recordings Project.  This project utilized recordings of the of Koyongk’awi language acquired from UC Berkeley’s extensive Native Californian language archives.  Working with Native languages linguist Sheri Tatsch, Ph.D., the community developed a standardized writing system; outlined teaching materials; and produced two DVDs, one disc of vocabulary and grammar, and a second disc of stories.  Once the writing system was finalized, the community held a training session to introduce the system and some of the specifics of Koyongk’awi and basic linguistic principles to the members of the tribe.  Finally, the language was used in storytelling and prayer at the Maidu salmon ceremony in September 2008, thereby incorporating language into traditional practices.