The Salinans are a Native people that lived in what is now the Central Coast of California, in the Salinas Valley. The Salinan language is one of the oldest in California. Said to have gone extinct by the Census of 1930, the Salinan peoples survived and currently exist in several separate and distinct communities or villages, one of which is the Salinan Trowtraahl.
Over the last decade, members of the Salinan Trowtraahl have seen an awakening and resurgence of their traditional way of life, or Kuksui. An important element of this is the annual Bear Ceremony, one of the oldest and most sacred ceremonies practiced throughout much of Native California. The Bear Ceremony serves to bring families and villages together in common purpose: to socialize; exchange information; share food; celebrate their relationship with the world of animals, the Creator, and each other; and to invite healing for those in need. In 2005, Salinan Trowtraahl held their first Bear Ceremony in over a century.
In 2015, Salinan Trowtraahl received a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program to support the cultural continuity of the Salinan Bear Ceremony. Archival research, consultations, and a tribal workshop will solidify understanding of the ceremony for tribal members and elders.