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The Sun Runner The Magazine of the Real California Desert, published in Joshua Tree, California

June/July 2009—Vol. 15, No. 3 The Sun Runner Magazine 61855 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree, CA 92252 (760)366-2700 • Publisher/Executive Editor: Steve Brown Founding Editor: Vickie Waite Theatre Editors: Jack & Jeannette Lyons Contributing Writers: Lorraine Blair • David Brown Steve Brown • Mike Cipra John Di Pol • Denise Kasofsky

Philip M. Klasky • Jack Lyons

Linda Saholt • DeRanger Steve Salkin Paul F. Smith • Vickie Waite Judy Wishart • Andy Woods Contributing Photographers: Liz Babcock • Steve Brown Jane Cipra • Howard Gross Denise Kasofsky • Philip M. Klasky Bruce Miller • Linda Saholt • Judy Wishart Advertising Sales: Carolyn Gordon (760)366-2700, Distribution Manager: Sam Sloneker

The Sun Runner Magazine features desert arts and entertainment news, desert issues and commentary, natural and cultural history, columns, poetry, stories by desert writers, and a Calendar of Events for the California desert region. Published bimonthly. MAGAZINE DEADLINE: July 10 for the Aug./Sept. 2009 issue, for advertising, calendar listings, and editorial. To list a desert event free of charge in The Sun Runner Calendar, please send your press release to, or mail to: Calendar, c/o: The Sun Runner Magazine, 61855 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree, CA 92252. Please include all relevant information in text format. Notices submitted without complete information or in a wrong format may not be posted. Event information will not be taken over the telephone. SUBMISSIONS: The Sun Runner, 61855 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree, CA 92252. By email: SUBSCRIPTIONS: $22/year U.S.A. ($38/year International). Copyright © 2009 The Sun Runner. Permission for reproduction of any part of this publication must be obtained from the publisher. The opinions of our contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the magazine. We have made every effort to be accurate, but we are not responsible for errors or omissions in material submitted to us, nor claims by advertisers. Advertising, press releases, and public service announcements accepted at the discretion of the publisher. = 8 The Sun Runner – June/July 2009

The Sun Runner The Magazine of the Real California Desert

June/July 2009

Inside this Issue: Dry Heat, by Steve Brown ... 11 Desert Art News, from the MBCAC ... 12 Coachella Valley Confidential, by Denise Kasofsky ... 17 Cover Story: Are we still Indians? A look at the state of Native American culture in the California deserts Introduction, by Seve Brown ... 19 Bringing Creation Back Together: Native American Cultural Preservation and Revitalization, by Philip M. Klasky ... 20 Through you, my ancient people, I am: Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, by Steve Brown ... 22 The Heart of a Living Culture: Malki Museum, by Steve Brown ... 23 The Soul of Cahuilla Culture: Dr. Kathrine Siva Saubel, by Steve Brown ... 24 Desert Survival Get the Word Out, by DeRanger Steve ... 26 Desert Environment The Story We Tell is Written on the Land, by Mike Cipra ... 27 Native Americans Dancing Up a Storm in Ridgecrest, by Linda Saholt ... 28 Historical Perspectives on the California Desert Part 37: The Last Great Expedition, The Old Spanish Trail, 1848, by Paul F. Smith ... 29 The Other Indian Wells: Ridgecrest Land of Little Rain – The Untold Story, by John Di Pol ... 30 Ramblings from Randsburg On the Trail of... School Kids of the Rand, by Lorraine Blair ... 31 Desert Theatre Beat, by Jack Lyons ... 32 Film Talk, by Jack Lyons ... 34 Music News, by Judy Wishart ... 35 Sustainable Living Simple Times in a Simple Place, Wattle and Daub whilst practicing David Brown ... 36 The California Deserts Visitors Association CALENDAR Upcoming California Desert Events, Art & Entertainment ... 38 For the most up-to-date listing of California desert events, visit the California Deserts Visitors Association online Calendar at, produced by The Sun Runner Magazine. Stay up to date on desert events with the weekly Sun Blast and Desert Deals e-mail newsletters. Sign up online at Proud member of the California Deserts Visitors Association, and the Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms, Ridgecrest, Barstow, and Death Valley Chambers of Commerce.

Cover Art — by Bruce Miller Joshua Tree photographer Bruce Miller took this shot of a mortero in the Coyote Hole area. Coyote Hole, in Joshua Tree, offers a wealth of petroglyphs as well, but is all too frequently vandalized with paint balls and graffiti. Other Native American sites throughout the desert are endangered by vandals, off-road vehicle use, and looting. Miller’s photography will be on exhibit in July (see Art News).

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ive years. It’s hard to believe this issue marks the beginning of my sixth year of publishing The Sun Runner. It’s been a busy and tumultuous half a decade, and it leaves me wondering what to expect over the next half, and feeling both anticipation and dread. I bought this magazine as a birthday present for myself back in 2004. The corporate newspaper I was working for as news editor in the lower desert was careening toward self destruction (it now consists mostly of movie reviews and trustee sales—no news to be seen anywhere). Sun Runner founder Vickie Waite had been both low-key, and doggedly persistent, in her attempts to get me to take on the magazine, and finally, after the imposed mediocrity of mega-corporate media got to me, the deal was sealed with a margarita up at Pappy & Harriet’s. My vision has been, and continues to be, to produce a desert-wide, regional publication, to connect desert readers to all that goes on across the desert, and to connect readers outside the desert with all the desert region has to offer. It hasn’t been easy (the California deserts are geographically immense), but progress continues at a steady pace. We have become a member of the California Deserts Visitors Association, and we are partnering with an increasing number of organizations to build travel and tourism for the desert region, to share the wonders of our area responsibly with others. And we continue to support the responsible care and management of our deserts. Five years ago, The Sun Runner Magazine was published quarterly, en-

tirely in black and white, and wasn’t found outside of the Morongo Basin. I began gradually moving toward a regional focus, to create a regional magazine based in the hi-desert, with a distinct voice, and an invitation for all the desert to participate. Now the biggest challenge is keeping up with demand all across the desert! I’ve learned a lot as the process has ambled through these past five years— some of it inspirational, some of it disheartening. I’ve picked up some great stories to tell, and made some friends along the way. I hope they know who they are and how much I appreciate their kindness, support, and friendship. I’ve found that you can’t please everyone, and sometimes, it seems like you can’t please anyone, least of all yourself. Fairly often though, it seems like most everyone has been pleased with this magazine, and I’m grateful for that. The contrasts in experiences keep things interesting. I’ve been given an award as a community hero for the desert and then called a pornographer for not censoring a local artist’s work. I’ve had people call up to commend me, and had a prominent local artist scream obscenities at me. I’ve even had a threat to firebomb the magazine’s offices. It never gets boring around here. I learned a lot from standing up against artistic censorship. I learned a lot of people I thought would stand up and support efforts to preserve artistic and creative freedom were conspicuously silent, or reduced the issue in significance to avoid having to take a stand. On an operational level, I’ve been

told the move to color was a great idea, and I’ve been told the magazine was better when it was black and white. I’ve been told we shouldn’t be regional in scope by people whose own work encompasses the entire desert region, and I’ve been told we don’t pay enough attention to Joshua Tree by people who never seem to get it together to send us a press release so we can provide them with free publicity. And I’ve found that sometimes some folks in the Palm Springs area come off seeming a little shallow by acting as if a magazine that doesn’t have a slick, glossy, hyper-commercial country club veneer isn’t good enough for them. I love Palm Springs, but I guess I’ll never make the A-List. Go figure. I’ve found too often politics are more important to some people than accomplishing something good for the community, and that people don’t always work in their own best interests. But I’ve also struck gold out here in the desert (even though I haven’t had time to take my metal detector out to look). I’ve had the honor of meeting folks like Mara Cantelo, who is nothing short of a miracle worker, and who received the Jefferson Awards Bronze Medallion this year along with other extraordinary desert award winners, Angela Ochoa, Marvin Schurgin, Krystine Johnson, and Elva French Casey. Cantelo will be representing the desert’s winners in Washington D.C. this month. Where else but the California deserts could I have gotten to meet the likes of legendary cultural figures like Marta Becket, George Van Tassel, Noah Purifoy, Dick Dale, Leonard Knight, Eric Burdon, Donna & Larry Charpied, and Dr. Katherine Siva Saubel, just to mention a few? There is a wealth of interesting, creative individuals to be found in our deserts, along with some brilliantly colorful characters. And of course, there is the desert itself. From Death Valley to Anza-Borrego, Joshua Tree to Trona, the Yuha to the Mojave, this is one incredible world to explore. Never have I experienced a place where this world and the dream world are so close, and the veil between them so transparent. I continue to be awed and intrigued by the desert to the point that in five years it seems I have barely scratched the surface. Still, I can’t wait to get back out to continue the exploration! Thanks for your support! I hope all of you desert writers and poets will submit your work for our upcoming third annual Desert Writers Issue. The deadline is July 3!  June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 11

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29 Palms Creative Center & Gallery The 29 Palms Creative Center offers a variety of workshops and classes for making prints, mosaics, drawings, paintings and collages throughout the month of June for kids and adults. “Cooky Collagraph,” a childlike printmaking process, will be hosted June 6, Saturday, 122 p.m. Gretchen will teach how to make a collagraph plate out of modeling paste and stencils, creating unique textural results. No experience is necessary and all art materials are provided. $50 per person. “Purely Perfect Monotype” is June 13, Saturday, 12-2 p.m. Purely Perfect Monotype is the use of 3 pure colors: yellow, red, and blue, printed on top of each other creating a rainbow of mixed colors that explode with lots of depth. No experience necessary, just bring an image to work from. $50 per person. “Colorn-Paint T-Shirt” is June 20, Saturday, 12-2 p.m. Color-n-Paint T-Shirts teaches you how to use acrylic paints to color your white t-shirt and paint an image on it with paint brushes or stencils. Fun for all ages.

$50 per person. For more information call Gretchen Grunt at (760)361-1805 or visit 29 Palms Creative Center & Gallery, 6847 Adobe Road, 29 Palms. Open most days or call for an appointment. Closed July/August. 29 Palms Inn, Oasis of Mara The Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council presents Cheryl Kandel and Judy Wishart at the historic Inn, May through July. Kandel of Stitch Art Studio will be showing her embroidery art and paintings. Her colorful framed embroidery mandalas are done with appliqué, and her paintings are acrylic on canvas, representing the beauty of the Joshua tree, inspired by photos she took in Joshua Tree National Park. Wishart, known for her bowling ball art and reporting music news in The Sun Runner, shows a variety of her new series of colorful “power” animals painted on boards. Open 7 days. 73950 Inn Avenue (off Nat. Park Dr.), 29 Palms. (760)3673505, 29 Palms Art In Public Places Art in Public Places at City Hall features desert photography by Jennifer Ruggiero through June 30. Born and raised in New York City, with a lifelong passion for music and art, photographer Jennifer Ruggiero’s pursuit of a music career brought her from the Jazz clubs of New York to the entertainment industry in Los Angeles in the late 1970s. She discovered Wonder Valley during the 2005 Open Studio Art Tours and bought a cabin! The July/August exhibit will feature desert and nature photography by Bruce Miller of Joshua Tree, who has exhibited through-

out the Morongo Basin and with the Chaparral Artists’ shows. Twentynine Palms City Hall, 6136 Adobe Road. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. WONDER VALLEY The Glass Outhouse Art Gallery New gallery opens Sunday, June 13, with a reception 1-6 p.m. for “A Private View” with photos by Regina Kirillov, multimedia sculpture by Suzanne Ross, and paintings and mosaics by Robyn Goudy. The Glass Outhouse Art Gallery, 77575 Hwy. 62 & Thunder Rd., Wonder Valley. JOSHUA TREE Art Queen The Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council, in conjunction with four art galleries in Joshua Tree, is sponsoring an exhibition of artwork from students between the ages of 5 and 18 during the month of June titled “Young at Art.” Katie Shaw of the Red Arrow Gallery approached the Arts Council and other local galleries with the idea for this show. “The kids’ show is important to me because I love our artistic community and wanted to support and show a younger version of it,” says Shaw. The participating galleries—Art Queen, Mt. Fuji General Store, Red Arrow Gallery, and True World Gallery—will hold a simultaneous gala opening on Saturday, June 6, from 4 to 7 p.m. Red Arrow Gallery is open Fridays 5-8 pm, Saturdays 12-5 p.m., Sundays 12-4 p.m. and by appointment. 61010 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree (760)366-2519, True World Gallery is open Friday, Sunday, Monday 10-2 p.m., Saturday 10-4 p.m., or by appointment. 61740 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree, (760)366-2300, Art Queen is open 12-5 p.m. weekends. 61855 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. For more information visit and Mt. Fuji General Store and Gallery There will be an acoustic performance by Bermuda Triangle Service from San Francisco at 2 p.m., June 4. They are playing at Pappy & Harriet’s that night and drummer/author/illustrator Adam McCauley will be signing copies of his kids book, My Friend Chicken. On June 27, Mt. Fuji is having a summer fundraiser to support a show of owner Chantale Doyle’s work in Japan, with live music, food, drinks, raffles, and a kissing booth, starting at 7 p.m. See: Mt. Fuji will be closed in July and August. 61740 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. Joshua Tree Retreat Center ~ Weekly Life Drawing Group Life drawing in the Morongo Basin! The Morongo Basic Life Drawing League meets Thursdays from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, formerly Mentalphysics. Come for a great evening of drawing—bring your drawing or painting supplies and a drop cloth for the floor. The $40 model cost is split among all who attend (usually 5-6) plus $1 for the facility. No membership or pre-payment required. Room locations are subject to change. Contact Janis Commentz at or (760)365-4955. Crossroads Café Muriel Mayah Martin and Marlana Moench show a “Spirits Of The Desert” collection of paintings and mixed media art throughout the café through June 3. Bonnie Brady shows a variety of mixed media paper art and paintings, June 3 through July 1. 61715 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree.

Granite Pass Storm, painting by Diane Best of Joshua Tree, featured in group show at Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, through August 23.

Studio Godot Studio Godot is the headquarters for the first Joshua Tree Gay Pride celebration, In the Name of Love. The event begins at 6 p.m., Saturday, June 27, with live music, dancing, food & drink, and the opening reception for Godot’s new show by artist Sydney McCutcheon, Hope Will Never Be Silent. Studio Godot, 61855 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. (760)366-2200, Other Joshua Tree Art News... Joshua Tree artist Diane Best will be featured in a group show, “A Long Hot Summer,” opening at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard on June 14. Best’s work will be displayed in the two large main gallery spaces. “This show is the culmination of two years of exploration, and I feel it is a strong body of work reflecting my close relationship with the remote transformational desert landscapes that I am so drawn to,” Best says. The show runs until August 23, with an opening reception Saturday, June 13, from 4-6 p.m. Carnegie Art Museum, 424 S. C St., Oxnard. YUCCAVALLEY Hi-Desert Nature Museum Yucca Valley High School Art Show exhibition highlights the finest work of some of this community’s rising talent. This show displays a variety of subjects in different art forms. Hi-Desert Nature Museum, Yucca Valley Community Center Complex, 57116 29 Palms Hwy. Tues-Suns 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (760)369-7212, Studio 62 Art Gallery Currently showing a variety of local artists including Kim Mayhew, Shirley James, and John Amado. 55663 29 Palms Hwy, Yucca Valley.

Jerry de Guzman memorial show, celebrating the late Morongo Basin photographer’s talent, is on display at Tumbleweed Art Gallery through June 20. June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 13

Tumbleweed Photo and Art Gallery Chaparral Artists presents a memorial photo show celebrating the photographic talent of Jerry de Guzman. Share in viewing the photos of this talented and loved member of the Morongo Basin community. His contributions include studio, school, and fine art photography with a passion and devotion for excellence. Jerry was a valued mentor as well as professional photographer. Tumbleweed Art Gallery 57490 29 Palms Hwy, Yucca Valley. Show runs through June 20.

Old Schoolhouse Museum & Gift Shop Open 1–4 p.m. Wed.–Sun. (760)367-2366 Gifts, Souvenirs Books, Cards Historical Exhibits Research Library

MORONGO VALLEY The Purple Agave Art Gallery The Purple Agave Art Gallery at Cactus Mart is showing artists Jim Steinhoff, Penelope Krebs, and photographer David Jesse McChesney through July. An artist reception will be held Sunday, June 7, 5-8 p.m. Open Daily. 49889 29 Palms Hwy., Morongo Valley. (760)363-6076, PALM SPRINGS

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Palm Springs Art Museum “Impressionist and Modern Masters: Nature and Light” runs June 20 through September 6. Vigorous brushwork, spirited color, and artistic passion are some of the means by which artists exert a pull on their audience. In works of particular distinction, these fundamentals create a seductive ambiance that renders meaning approachable and effective. Much of our response to great works of art is intimately tied to the inherent qualities of materials and the artist’s ability to entice us through them. This select group of outstanding Impressionist and Modern paintings on loan from a private collection demonstrate how artists from the late 19th to late 20th

century were willing, sometimes driven, to experiment with both content and materials. They represent Impressionist forays into the nature and effects of light and atmosphere, which are translated as pigment on canvas; Post Impressionist amplifications of emotion and expression through vivid color; and mid 20th century abstractions animated by hue and gesture. These paintings reveal basic concerns shared by all artists when they are freed from conventional limitations and inclined to express the world around them in tempting, evocative, and, ultimately, seductive materials. The Palm Springs Art Museum’s Art Camp runs June 23-July 17, featuring exciting art and performance explorations, creative hands-on projects, and adventurous museum gallery experiences. Sessions are Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with options for morning sessions from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and/or afternoon sessions from 1 to 4 p.m. for ages 5 to 12. A unique session has been designed for preschoolers ages 3-5 and their caregivers. See camp brochure for detailed class descriptions or visit Info: (760)322-4837, or email One of the more popular sculptures in the museum, Dale Chihuly’s End of the Day #2 (1996, blown glass with steel armature) was dissembled recently in preparation for its relocation to the Elrod Sculpture garden on the lower level. The sculpture consists of 275 blown glass elements created in five studios world-wide (including Waterford Crystal, Ireland; Nuutajarvi, Finland; Monterrey, Mexico; Murano, Italy; and Chihuly Studios, Seattle). Chihuly’s major series and sculptures are represented in the context of groupings or installations. He studied architecture as an undergraduate and received his degree in interior design. His artistic vision for glass has always main-

tained a close relationship between form, light, and space. This sculpture is a museum purchase with funds provided by JoAnn McGrath. The museum will participate in the Art Attack 2009 Summer Carnival sponsored by the Palm Springs Public Library. This event unites various area non-profit community organizations and local businesses to inform families about the activities available in the summer in Palm Springs. Art Attack 2009 Summer Carnival will take place outside in Sunrise Park on Saturday, June 6 from 9-11 a.m. It will be a free, fun time for families to participate in games, arts & crafts and test their fast-pitch with the Palm Springs Power baseball team. The Community Blood Bank will be on hand to accept blood donations during the carnival. There will also be food vendors and local businesses at the Carnival. The museum will begin screening the FREE Global Lens 2009 film series on Thursday June 11 at 6 p.m. in the Annenberg Theater. The popular series will continue every Thursday through August 13. The Global Lens series consists of 10 awardwinning feature films from Argentina, Brazil, China, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Morocco, and Mozambique. The innovative film series, now in its sixth year, premiered in New York in January 2009 and is now on a yearlong tour of more than 40 cities across the United States. “We are very intrigued by this year’s lineup of films,” said Robert Brasier, Deputy Director of Education at the museum. “We screened the 2008 series last year and met with such a positive response from our members that we immediately booked the series again this year. Featuring films from Central Asia to Latin America, the series is artistically strong and well balanced and is sure to be very popular this summer.” Global Lens 2009 features four films that premiered in North America (The Photograph, Sleepwalking Land, Song From The Southern Seas, and I Am From Titov Veles) and also includes award winners Getting Home (Ecumenical Jury Prize, Berlin International Film Festival), Mutum (winner of the Directors’ Fortnight award), and Possible Lives (winner of Pavilion les Cinémas du Sud, Cannes Film Festival). I Am From Titov Veles was Macedonia’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film in the 2008 Academy Awards. Watch for free lectures and more this summer, including a family activity, Sculpture and Their Stories, 6 p.m., June 25; a lecture, A Shared Aesthetic: Modernism and Photography, July 11; a lecture, Animated Spirit: Rothko, De Kooning and Mitchell, July 18; Teen Studio Projects, July 21; and a lecture, Nature and Light: The Impressionists, July 25. Palm Springs Art Museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Thursday 12-8 p.m. with 4-8 p.m. free admission sponsored by the City of Palm Springs. Downtown Palm Springs on Museum Drive at Tahquitz Canyon Way, just west of N. Palm Canyon Drive. 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs,

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Dezart One Gallery The gallery will participate in the First Wednesday Art Walk, June 3, 6-9 p.m., and is hosting an open studio “Art ala Mode,” on Saturdays, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., with ice cream. Dezart will also host a poetry reading open mic Sunday, June 7, at 4:30 p.m., and a gallery reception on Saturday, June 13, at 8 p.m., with music, entertainment, and refreshments. Groovy Movie Night takes place at 8 p.m., June 18, with Bagdad Cafe, and Atomic Lounge is slated for June 26, from 6-8 p.m., with cocktails, music, and art. A “gallery happening” is scheduled for July 3. Dezart, 2688 Cherokee Way, Backstreet Art District, June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 15

TWENTYNINE PALMS ART GALLERY AND GIFT SHOP Desert Art Native American Jewelry and Southwestern Gifts 74055 Cottonwood Dr. (off National Park Dr.) Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-7819 Open: 12 to 3 PM Wednesday–Sunday Summer Hours: 12 to 3 Friday-Saturday-Sunday

Palm Springs. (760)328-1440, Red Dot Gallery If you missed the recent 99 Bucks Art Sale sponsored by the museum’s Artists Council, a new opportunity is coming to the Red Dot Gallery starting June 3. The canvases will be on display most of the summer. More than 200 people turned out for the first-ever 99 Bucks at the Hotel Zoso in April, which raised nearly $12,000 for the museum. The art sale featured works contributed from celebrities such as Cameron Diaz, Barry Manilow, J.J. Abrams, Elaine Stritch, Enrique Chagoya, Shag (Josh Agle), Don Sutton, Trini Lopez , and from the talented Artists Council members—in total more than 275 canvases. Each piece cost $99, but the artist’s identity was kept secret until after the sale. Would you have identified the canvas by Cheetah the Chimp? Approximately 125 canvases that were not sold at the event will be available at the Red Dot Gallery, starting Wednesday, June 3. For this exhibition, the names of the artists will be revealed. The gallery is located at 2608 S. Cherokee Way in the Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs. For Red Dot Gallery information, call (760)328-8634. Exposure Gallery May 6 to June 15: William Ross Contemporary Work. 515 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Suite 12, Palm Springs., (760)327-6806. Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m., or by appointment, (760)861-3814. PALM DESERT El Paseo A free guided art tour of El Paseo is offered June 13, sponsored by the City of Palm Desert. Meet at the northwest corner of El Paseo and Portola. For more information: (760)568-5240. IDYLLWILD Art Alliance of Idyllwild The Art Alliance of Idyllwild’s Plein Air Art Festival runs June 12-14. Friday, June 12, 6-8 p.m., panel discussion. Saturday, June 13, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., plein air experience. Sunday, June 14, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Reception. The Rainbow Inn, 54420 S. Circle Dr., Idyllwild. (877)439-5278, RIDGECREST

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Maturango Museum The Sylvia Winslow Exhibit Gallery is featuring the abstract oils and bronze sculpture of Monika Steiner through July 8 (see for artist information). From July 11August 12 there will be a show featuring works in mixed media by museum members. An artists’ reception will be July 12, from 7-9 p.m. Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave., Ridgecrest. (760)375-6900, Attention all museum operators and art gallery owners throughout the California desert region: If you would like for your exhibits and special arts-related events to be included in The Sun Runner’s Art News, the California Deserts Visitors Association Calendar, Sun Blast weekly e-mail newsletter, weekly radio events calendar on KX96 FM, and more—please e-mail complete information, preferably in text format, to Get the word out about your arts events to more than 33,000 readers each issue!


he flow of cold air shoots out from the plastic vents of my dashboard as I try my best to deal with the blistering heat that thrives on the other side of my car window. If there were only more drive-through services in the desert, we could pretend it was 70 degrees all year long. There are already drive-through banks, fast food places, and I recall seeing a dry cleaner somewhere that had a drive-through as well. There should be more—a grocery store that would take your order and run through the store for you so you could sit in your car and not have to be tormented by the hell-like weather outside. But that would be too much of a secluded life and take away from the hardiness that makes those of us who live here year-round so special. There must be a better way to handle our summer dilemma without having to hibernate in our A/C bubble. I’ve got it! Let’s put some Ho, Ho, Ho, in our Hot, Hot, Hot. That’s right, people, it can be Christmas in July. What better way to get through the sweltering summer and have a jolly good time as well. It is said that the Christmas-in-July concept most likely came out of Europe when some people who yearned for the cold weather of winter and the coziness of the holiday decided to celebrate it five months in advance. To put together a Christmas in July celebration is not that farfetched. There has to be someone you know with a synthetic Christmas tree that you can borrow, if you don’t already have one yourself (don’t be too ashamed if you do), and the decorations are just a storage search away. Slap together a holiday roast with all the trimmings, some eggnog, Bing Crosby bellowing out White Christmas, and then faster than a reindeer takes flight, you’ve got yourself a little bit of that magical time of year. Some might argue that celebrating this coveted holiday so far ahead is somehow taking away from the spiritual importance

of it. But I disagree. If Christmas is supposed to represent the birth of Jesus Christ, thus thrusting us into celebrating his goodness and his love, wouldn’t it seem right to do it more than once a year? Isn’t spreading the love of humanity and feeling all warm and fuzzy inside a great thing to do—all the time? Absolutely! Christmas really lives in our hearts, no matter what time of year it is. So turn your A/C to 65, light up that fireplace, and feel the warmth of the season.… Ooooo, Ooooo…flashing disco lights, shiny mirrored balls, pulsating, rocking music bouncing off the walls. This was a legendary time in the desert; this was the time of the Pompeii Nightclub. The club ruled the nightlife scene in the desert from 1983 to 1991 and had a momentary rebirth in 1997, which unfortunately was short lived. It was likened to a flashy ’70s discotheque, the desert’s answer to Studio 54. Sitting like a party beacon propped up on a hill on the border of Palm Springs and Cathedral City, it harbored a fantasy world complete with sleek dance floors, etched-glass lighted bars, and private rooms— for those with access. Celebrities migrated to the club, which adorned itself with its own volcano, built by the minds of Disney Animation Division, to complete its decadent appearance. I recall when I was a teenager, gazing up at the club, yearning to be a part of the mystique that was Pompeii. I finally got my chance years later when the club re-opened in 1997. I worked as their PR director, and I can honestly say, without hesitation, that it was one of the best times of my life. It was everything I had thought it would be and more (minus the private rooms of course, which were not part of the club’s rejuvenation). After Pompeii closed for the last time in 1998, others came to try their hand at the nightclub business, hoping to maybe cash in and attain even the smallest amount of magic that June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 17

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Pompeii once had. But no one could duplicate the club’s success, and finally the ghost of Pompeii won out and the infamous club sat vacant for years until 2006 when Glory to God Ministries purchased it for more than two million dollars. The irony of a church going into where a nightclub existed is, well… ironic. But Glory to God Ministries has been down this road before, when they held services at the old Bronco Billy’s venue off Perez Road. When I asked Ron White of Glory to God Ministries why they chose the Pompeii building, he simply said with great conviction that they “were guided by the spirit.” They plan to remodel the building, not tear it down, and the round body of windows that frame the building will be replaced by a more appropriate façade. The project has more than a year to go before completion. The ministry will hold services there as well as telecast from it. I spoke to former general manager Steve Johns, who ran Pompeii from ’86 to ’91 and again in 1997. I asked him what he thought of the church coming into such an historic site, erected in the late 1950s. “If the walls could talk.… So many stars and royalty have walked through there for decades, it will be sad to see the last nights of Pompeii, but a higher power will now have control over the building.” Sad, ironic, an era has come to an end, although maybe not quite for the building. It will have a new life, a new beginning, and in some way will retain part of its club environment; after all, if the spirit moves you, it will make you dance. Driving down Highway111 from Palm Springs to La Quinta you will find a different kind of business popping up faster than popcorn in a movie theater. Bright neon lights will guide you to a new trend

in self indulgence, a service that traditionally would take an appointment, a robe, and a nap afterwards. But now, none of that is needed and you can go in for a quickie without disrupting your day. You got it, I’m talking about massage. There are more than 60 of these convenient relaxation spots in the desert, offering services from chair massage to traditional table massage, reflexology, and other spa-related treatments. Recently I treated myself to a brief respite from my day and indulged in a 15minute chair massage in Palm Springs. A gentle looking woman led me to a massage chair that looked like it alone would fix any chiropractic problems I might have. She was thorough in her massage technique, and before I knew it my 15 minutes was done. The experience cost me $16 plus tip. I plan to go back as soon as my schedule allows. I heard the foot reflexology is a toe curling encounter. It’s the time of year when we all switch gears and slow down a bit. Despite the gear change, there are still things going on in the desert. If you want to satisfy your art craving, there are evening art walks, like First Thursdays on El Paseo from 5-9 p.m. through June, and First Wednesdays at Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs off Highway 111 on Cherokee Way from 6-9 p.m. all year long. Fourth of July would not be complete without exploding lights in the sky. Palm Springs will host their display at 9 p.m. at Palm Springs Stadium. Palm Desert does it in style with a concert in the park featuring Steve Madaio at 7:30 p.m. and fireworks at 9 p.m. And for those in the east valley, Indio hosts their display at Riverside County Fair Grounds, also at 9 p.m. Or ... catch the Tram and see them all! 


ot long ago, my wife and I attended a Cahuilla bird song festival, hosted by the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum in Palm Springs. I had heard a bird song or two performed at various press conferences and media events, but they seemed somewhat out of place around politicians and business leaders in suits who took turns standing at a podium. But at the festival, there was a different setting and I found I could focus on the bird singing and dancing in an environment that was very family oriented, relaxed, and nearly all Native American. As I listened, something clicked. This music, which is more than a song, is a ceremony unto itself, yet part of something larger. It struck me as a vital organic component of the desert itself—as natural and necessary as the yuccas, the arroyos, the roadrunner, or the coyote. Of course, I knew this already—intellectually—but that’s different than knowing something for real. I was hearing the human soul of the desert, the stories and rituals passed down for thousands of years. I couldn’t, unfortunately, understand the words being sung, but there was something to these songs, if you will, that could be understood by anyone who had begun to appreciate the desert. All this got me thinking. Not just about the songs, but about the people singing them and dancing to them, and

about the ones who taught them, and the ones before who taught the teachers. And it got me thinking about the culture of the desert and its peoples. Culture. One little word with seven letters that by its very nature embodies dramatically more than we can ever know about a people. It is defined in the dictionary as a noun, but I think a healthy culture is closer to a verb than anything else. After all, shouldn’t a culture be a living, active entity? Merriam-Webster includes the definitions: the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations; and, the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group. And while cultures fascinate me, I have to admit, these definitions are fairly accurate, but they don’t sound all that alive. When Dr. Katherine Siva Saubel, the well respected Cahuilla scholar, was asked by her son, “Are we still Indians?” after he had been told by someone there were no more Indians in California, the question was more pertinent than one might first think. Is culture a noun—something staid and immobile, best presented in the past? Or is it a verb—a living being, changing, but carrying the same traditions, the same cultural DNA for a group of people? And if it is a living being, what do you do when

it is sick, and, perhaps more tragically, what do you do when it dies? I made the decision recently that a magazine about the California deserts and their cultures cannot pretend to be complete without including the cultures of the peoples who settled these lands thousands of years ago, and who remain upon these lands today, despite countless adversities. To begin, I wanted to start examining the state of Native American culture in the desert—beyond the obvious casino gaming and resorts—and perhaps get an idea as to what direction peoples such as the Cahuilla are heading culturally—for better or worse. Please keep in mind that this issue is just an introduction, and a brief one at that—a prelude, I hope, to deeper discussions and explorations. There is much that can be learned about the first Californians, and perhaps just as much that needs to be un-learned. This section is really just a push to get this journey underway, and we must realize that, like all journeys, it will never really be finished. We can learn about the plants, the geology, wildlife, and the climate of the desert. But quite possibly the best way to really learn about all facets of the desert is to learn about its people and gain from the knowledge and wisdom they themselves have learned and passed down over thousands of years of living here. We may be starting too late, but we must begin. – Steve Brown June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 19


ll throughout the southwestern desert region, from the Tepary bean fields of the Tohono O’odham to the Salt Songs of the Southern Paiute, native peoples are working to preserve and revitalize their cultures. According to native farmers, the traditional foods invite back the stories and songs that teach and celebrate. These foods also help to reverse diabetes and other dietary diseases. And for Vivienne Jake (Kaibab Paiute), the sacred songs of the Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute) help to “bring creation back together.” The songs are a cultural and spiritual bond between the Nuwuvi peoples and the land and serve as a ceremony for renewal of their spiritual journey. As the director of The Storyscape Project of The Cultural Conservancy, my colleagues and I have conducted original recordings of endangered stories and songs and translations of endangered languages. We recorded the Newe Huvia (Mother Earth Songs) of Corbin Harney, a Western Shoshone spiritual leader who has offered his songs at gatherings to protect sacred lands, at the United Na20 The Sun Runner – June/July 2009

tions and in Kazakhstan in solidarity with the indigenous peoples of eastern Europe. We recorded Mojave elder Llewellyn Barrackman translate the Mojave Creation Songs and their accompanying stories from original recordings from the 1970s. The Mojave Creation Songs are a 525song cycle recounting the creation stories of the Mojave people in an epic poem sung at memorials. We recorded the Salt Songs of the Southern Paiute people with 13 singers from 13 bands of Nuwuvi. Led by 89-yearold Willis Mayo (Kaibab Paiute), singers described a sacred landscape through California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada that begins in a sacred cave at the confluence of the Bill Williams and Colorado Rivers and travels up the river to the Grand Canyon and the Colorado Plateau. The songs exist on both a physical and spiritual plane as they continue their journey to Nuva Kiav (Mt. Charleston) through a mystical gateway to the Pacific Ocean and then back through Palm Springs and 29 Palms to the Colorado River. The 142-song cycle is performed at memorials and honor ceremonies.

With the Salt Song Trail Project directors Vivienne Jake (Kaibab Paiute) and Matthew Leivas, Sr. (Chemehuevi) we produced the Salt Song Trail documentary. The film traces the present day journey of Salt Song Singers who perform the songs at a children’s cemetery at the Sherman Institute, a former Indian boarding school in Riverside. The singers gathered to sing for the Indian children who never returned home. The Salt Song Trail: Living Documentary is a continuation of the documentation of the Salt Song Trail and records ceremonies at the Stewart Indian Boarding School in Carson City, Nevada, and at the Old Woman Mountains. We are currently training native filmmakers how to conduct their own ethnography. The majestic granitic peaks of the Old Woman Mountains rise above a high tilting valley of creosote and yucca. At the site called “The Shaman’s Cave” there is a hollow in the rock perched above the ground with a view to the east and the distant Turtle Mountains. Adorning the rock are petroglyphs left by native travelers and ancient inhabitants. Salt Song

singers and Cahuilla Bird Song singers gathered at the Old Woman Mountains to sing their sacred songs and talk about the importance and resilience of their songs. We are currently working with elders from Parker, Arizona; Kaibab, Utah; Moapa, Nevada; and the Colorado River tribes to create a poster of the Nuwuvi sacred landscapes and culture areas as recounted by the Salt Songs. The poster will be proudly displayed on kitchen walls, in family rooms, at senior centers, preschools, and tribal headquarters. Native culture is inseparably woven with the land, and there is a direct relationship between cultural preservation and environment protection. The Native American Land Conservancy is a coalition of tribal leaders who purchased 2,500 acres in the Old Woman Mountains to create a cultural and ecological preserve where ceremony can flourish on protected lands. This is one of many efforts throughout Indian Country to protect ancestral lands. But these landscapes are under attack from destructive recreation and development. Sacred sites and natural and historical resources have been damaged by widespread unmanaged and uncontrolled off-road vehicle activity, and there is a growing concern about the impacts of proposed military base expansion and large solar projects. I am constantly learning about new and exciting efforts to preserve and reinvigorate ancient traditions. A window into the history of the American Indian experience exposes the reasons why there is an urgent need for cultural preservation and a responsibility to support those efforts. In the 1870s, the federal government decided that in order to more efficiently assimilate American Indian children they needed to ship them long distances from their homes to boarding schools where they were forbidden to speak their languages or practice their culture. When they arrived at the boarding schools their hair was cut, they were forced to dress in uniforms, and their “education� included forced labor, religious indoctrination, and military discipline. The boarding schools were notorious for unsanitary conditions, diseases, poor nutrition, and physical and sexual abuse. In this same time period, participation in traditional potlatches (ceremonial giveaways), dances, puberty, death and birth rites and rituals were outlawed in Indian communities and at the reservations. Indian agents and boarding school officials considered expressions of native culture to be primitive and inferior and, in many cases, feared the power of their spiritualism. In essence, it was a crime to be an Indian. The trauma from the boarding school experience has lasted through generations. Native peoples have fought back against attempts to wipe out the rich and diverse range of indigenous languages and cultural arts. From their struggles we can learn much about the process and impacts of colonization. We can gain an understanding of the value of traditional culture through an exploration of its values and an appreciation of its potency and capacity to survive. Native American stories and songs offer very different perspectives about our relationships with each other and the earth and the scale of time within which we consider our actions. The view that our decisions must consider the impacts on the next seven generations establishes a range of responsibility way beyond the moment. Each year, I offer a class about American Indian history and ethnography through the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park and have had the privilege of teaching with scholars and culture keepers, including author and anthropologist Dr. Lowell John Bean; Chemehuevi Salt Song singer and culture keeper Matthew Leivas, Sr.; and Luseno linguist and musi-

Ernest Siva

Matthew Leivas, Sr. June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 21

Philip M. Klasky

cian Ernest Siva. The class explores the history of the area and current efforts to protect native traditions. There is invaluable ethnobiological knowledge found in indigenous narratives that has been used for centuries by native healers, and studied by Western scientists seeking natural medicines. Cultural preservation is a way to heal from the past, gather knowledge, and reverse years of attempts to deny native peoples their cultural heritage. Everyone benefits from understanding native cultures as we learn about the fascinating lifeways of the original peoples of this land and gain from their intimate knowledge of the natural environment.  Philip M. Klasky teaches at San Francisco State University in the Department of American Indian Studies and at the Desert Institute of Joshua Tree National Park. He is also the director of The Storyscape Project of The Cultural Conservancy, a nonprofit organization. Klasky divides his time between Wonder Valley and San Francisco.

Starting Points The Storyscape Project The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum The Malki Museum

22 The Sun Runner – June/July 2009


n the heart of Palm Springs, beneath the towering monolith of Mt. San Jacinto and right in the midst of bustling Palm Canyon Drive, sits the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum. Founded in 1992, the small unimposing museum accomplishes much more than its size might first imply. Not only does the museum provide high quality exhibitions, but it also presents lectures, special events, films, tours, educational outreach programs, and traditional skills workshops. The museum’s collections focus on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the other Cahuilla bands, as well as indigenous artifacts from around the world, and the museum’s research library and archives are excellent resources for in-depth learning about the Cahuilla. Their basket collection is impressive, with more than 400 items, while pottery, tools, utensils, and other artifacts are well represented. The Tahquitz Canyon Archaeological Collection contains more than 40,000 artifacts alone. The museum has another role that many may not know about—it is the designated representative of the Agua Caliente Band for repatriation under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Executive Director Michael Hammond is understandably proud of the museum’s accomplishments. We discuss the museum’s role in the preservation and continuation of Agua Caliente culture. “We are perpetuating the culture,”

he says. “I think we are helping tribal members to understand their culture and heritage. Whether or not we perpetuate what was traditionally done, I’m not sure we do that. I’m quite sure tribal members are moving forward. When people say that it’s too bad you don’t have the culture and traditions any more, I respond ‘We do, we’re still here.’” Hammond was explicit that the role of the museum is to be a cultural museum, not a cultural center. He notes that there are no longer any speakers of the Cahuilla language among the Agua Caliente, and that, though often similar, there is a difference in the roles of museums and cultural centers. “Within the Native American world there are tribal museums and tribal cultural centers. It has fallen out that way,” he explains. “We will preserve through archival records and curation of objects, the tribe’s culture. Tribal cultural centers bring tribal members together to instill within them the sacred knowledge, traditions, singing, language, and so forth. There’s a tremendous amount of overlap, but we feel we’re doing our part to preserve the tribe’s culture and heritage by finding all of these obscure articles and items of historcial nature and preserving them for future generations. “We will hopefully help in any way we can in the revitalization of the language,” he adds. “We are helping with bird singing and were the first venue for quite a while that brought together people from Southern California for bird singing.”

The museum hosts several annual events including a Native American storytelling festival, and the Festival of Native Film & Culture. The film festival is growing in popularity with both desert film lovers and Native American filmmakers. Storytelling, Hammond notes, is key to both. “Native Americans are the best storytellers,” he explains. “Their ability to transpose their stories onto film is excellent.” The museum hosts Spirit Keeper lectures, delving into topics of the past, as well as of the present, and where the tribe wants to be in the future. Its exhibits not only cover Cahuilla culture, with exhibits such as one opening on Native Americans in sports, including John Tortes Meyers, a Cahuilla who played in the first World Series for the New York Giants (the museum has obtained his original baseball card), but they also present issues with universal themes for Native Americans. One upcoming exhibit will be on Kennewick Man, the controversial find in 1996of human skeletal remains dating back between 5,000 and 9,500 years. The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum’s exhibits, including their awardwinning exhibition on Cahuilla cowboys, are one component in a rich mix of cultural offerings. The museum has a partnership with the UCLA/Getty Master’s Program in Conservation of Archaelogical and Ethnographic Materials administered through the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, and is also a member of the Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program—the first Native American museum to achieve that position. This status provides access to the vast resources of the Smithsonian’s educational programs and technical expertise, as well as extensive exhibit possibilities. The museum is interviewing tribal elders for an oral history project, which is another vehicle for cultural preservation. “We started with tribal elders and are interviewing certain members involved with issues making the tribe who they are today,” Hammond says. “We need to capture that oral history now. It’s not going to be written down.” Hammond, obviously enthused about the project, laughs. “When you sit in on oral histories and you realize you are dealing with people who are part of an oral tradition, you need to bring a couple spools of tape,” he says. “They’re really great. When they take off on a tangent that has nothing whatsoever to do with conservatorship, you get back some of the most wonderful information imaginable.” 


f Agua Caliente Cultural Museum is the head of Cahuilla cultural preser vation, then perhaps Malki Museum on the Morongo Reservation, is the heart. This small museum began as the dream of some visionary Cahuilla women, and was passed down to Jane K. Penn, a Wanikik Cahuilla. Penn’s aunt, Margaret Pablo, was grandniece of Ygindio Gabriel, chief of the Wanikik Cahuilla during the time of the Melkish (white) settlers mass arrival in California in the mid-1800s. Pablo told Penn about her desire to share the rich culture of the Indians with the whites, and to also instill some cultural pride and identity in the generations of her people who would come after, and who were already beginning to lose their traditions. Victoria Weirick, a cousin of Penn’s, felt the same way and left numerous cultural artifacts with her for safekeeping in 1958. Penn shared her desire to display this collection in a museum with friends like ethnographer Lowell Bean, and Katherine Siva Saubel, a relation through marriage. Penn asked Saubel to be the Malki Museum’s first president, a position she continues to serve in today. Penn chose the name for the museum, “Malki,” which is the Cahuilla word for “dodging.” In February 1965, the Malki Museum opened its doors and was dedicated in a traditional ceremony—the oldest museum founded by Native Americans on a reservation in California. This modest museum has excellent Cahuilla baskets, morteros, and historical photographs, but there is much more to the museum than meets the eye. The Malki-Ballena Press, which publishes an

impressive number of books ranging from academic works written by historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists, to linquistic studies (including a Cahuilla dictionary), Native American cultures, and the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology. One of the better known books published by the press is Saubel & Bean’s ethnobotanical work, Temalpakh, Cahuilla Indian Knowledge and Usage of Plants, and Saubel’s biography, I’sill He’qwas Wa’’xish: A Dried Coyote’s Tail. Harry Lawton’s Willie Boy, A Desert Manhunt, is possibly the best known book published by Malki-Ballena Press, though you won’t find Saubel vouching for its accuracy. One of the museum’s finest exhibits isn’t inside the museum. It’s the Temalpakh Ethnobotanical Garden. The 50 or more plants found on the grounds of the garden are traditional sources for food, medicine, roofing, clothing—if the Cahuilla used it for something, it’s here. Plants range from varieties of cactus to ribbonwood, buckwheat, Mormon Tea, jojoba, mesquite, and more. Guides to the plants found throughout the garden are available inside the museum. After learning about these plants and their uses, one will never look out at the open desert and think there is nothing there. There is literally a wealth of the raw materials needed to supply a desert civilization available from the plants found here. The Malki Museum hosts a number of special events throughout the year, including their annual Fiesta, Fall Gathering, Agave Harvest & Roast, and periodic lectures and presentations.  June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 23

Wihkwa’ táxwika’ híchiqa. Táxwika’ námiqa ‘ét háwawayill pén chemtém’a’. The two go together. The two, the language and our land, overlap.


hen Jane Penn decided to cre ate the Malki Museum, she chose a remarkable woman, Katherine Siva Saubel, as its first president. The Malki opened in 1965, and Saubel, at age 89, continues to serve as its president. Born in 1920 on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, Katherine spent her early years in the mountains where only Cahuilla was spoken. On advice from a shaman, the family moved to the land of her mother’s uncle, Pedro Chino, at the Agua Caliente Reservation in Palm Springs. There Katherine learned the “Pass Cahuilla” dialect, in addition to her native “Mountain Cahuilla.” In the mid-1920s, Saubel’s maternal grandmother, a native speaker of the third Cahuilla dialect, “Desert Cahuilla,” came to live with the family. About that time, Saubel began attending elementary 24 The Sun Runner – June/July 2009

school in Palm Springs, where she was put in the back of the classroom and ignored. She gradually added English to her language repertoire. Later, she became the first Native American woman to graduate from Palm Springs High School. From an early age, Katherine had a sense of how much of the Cahuilla culture was being lost. During high school, Saubel kept a notebook where she described native plants and their uses as foods, medicines, and the raw materials for everyday life in traditional Cahuilla culture. Much of this knowledge came from her mother, who instilled in her a deep respect for nature and the earth. Her family survived well during the Great Depression by returning to traditional hunting and gathering. Saubel’s father, Juan, encouraged his daughter’s education. He never attended school as a boy, but at age 20, he en-

rolled, and learned English, Spanish, and Latin in a period of three years. He also spoke Cupeno, Luiseno, portions of other Native languages, as well as Cahuilla. In 1940, at the age of 20, Katherine married Mariano Saubel, from the Morongo Reservation. The couple had one son, Allen, and were married for 45 years. Mariano passed away in 1985. In 1958, Katherine met a student of anthropology and ethnology from UCLA, Lowell Bean. This was the beginning of a collaboration that continues today. Bean (now professor emeritus from CSU Hayward), became one of the leading scholars on the Cahuilla. Their friendship has continued and has been a highly productive association for anyone interested in Cahuilla culture and language. It was Bean who first introduced Saubel to the academic realm, and from that introduction came numerous opportunities for her, in turn, to introduce Cahuilla culture to others. Together, the two wrote Temalpakh: Cahulla Indan Knowledge and Usage of Plants, a work that took the knowledge of native plants and their uses in Cahuilla culture that Katherine had compiled in her notebook years earlier, along with information from other Cahuilla sources, and created an ethnobotanical reference. The two have continued to work together through the Malki Museum, the Malki-Ballena Press, and the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology. Katherine Siva Saubel has achieved so much, and received so many accolades, that it is impossible to list all her accomplishments here. But at 89, she isn’t resting on her laurels. “For a while, I was worried because the young ones today, they don’t really know who they are,” she noted. “They don’t know their background. But the Cahuilla at the reservation in Santa Rosa asked for me to come and teach them. They said, ‘We want to know our culture from way back. We want to know all that,’ and I said I’d come by, so I’ve been teaching them over there. They’ve been interested to know, and they want to learn the language.” She noted most contemporary Cahuilla don’t appear interested in their own culture, language, and traditions. “You have to know who you are,” she explained. “You have to know your lineage, you have to know your moiety, you have to know your clan. Then you know who you are. I know all that, but if you don’t, there’s nothing.” When asked why young Cahuilla aren’t interested in their past and lan-

guage, Katherine answered bluntly. “I think it’s the casinos,” she said. “They think it’s not very important [their culture], but it is. They realize that up in the mountains. They want to know who they are. They’re all young people and they want to know everything. To me, it’s almost gone, all of it, because nobody speaks the language. They’re so into it [at the Santa Rosa Reservation], they learn everything, but here [at the Malki Museum], we give programs, we give lectures, and nobody comes to hear. They don’t even care that the museum is here.” “How many still speak Cahuilla?” I asked. Perhaps I was terribly ignorant, but I found Katherine has a way of not letting you stay that way for long. “About three of us,” she replied. “My two brothers and I. Fluently. My younger brother is 86, and my older brother will be 91 next month. I’ll be 90 next year. If they’re all gone, that’s it. That’s why I wrote dictionaries. I knew that was coming. I’ve been working on that for years.” Gone. Could it be that the language once spoken throughout these mountains, canyons, and desert areas could be silenced? Saubel noted a linguist, the only white man who speaks Cahuilla fluently, works with her, and there is the group up in the mountains who are learning. She seems to have come to a calm acceptance of this situation, this possible death of her language, and with it, the loss of innumerable stories, songs, and knowledge. “I worried about it when I was about eight years old,” she explained. “When I talked Indian to someone and they answered me in English, I thought, ‘One of these days, this is going to be gone.’ That’s true. That’s what happened.” So, how could this happen? “Most aren’t all Indian anyway,” Saubel said of the contemporary Cahuilla. “They’re half-black, half-Mexican, halfwhite, so they don’t care as much. Up in the mountains, they’re all Indians, so it makes a difference in how connected they feel to the culture.” She also noted many Cahuilla have intermarried with other Native Americans from different tribes, making it difficult to perpetuate one particular tribal culture. At the same time, her perspective on things she encountered in her life show just how stable of a culture the Cahuilla had created, up until recent years. History became personal—a family matter— in our conversation. She talked about being forced to learn Spanish in high school, and her reasons why she didn’t

want to study that language—reasons that went back centuries. “I hated to do that because all the stories I had heard about how our people were treated when the Spanish were building the missions,” she said. “They took one of my father’s great uncles and they kidnapped him from there in the mountains and took him to San Diego to the mission there. I don’t know how he managed to run away from there, and he got home and he said, ‘You know what they do to our people? They just whip us. They make us kneel down, and if you didn’t make the sign of the cross, you were whipped. We weren’t fed and we were just hungry all the time. They were so mean.’ And he came back and said, ‘They’re not doing anything good for us. They’re bad people.’ That’s what he told when he came back.” She added Spanish Captain Juan Batista de Anza’s arrogant behavior to the list—actions that took place around 1774. As de Anza’s unit came through Cahuilla territory it depleted food sources the Indians relied upon, leaving them little to eat for months afterward. “He may be a hero, but he’s not ours,” she concluded. “That’s why I didn’t want to learn Spanish. They did that to our people.” “I had to take it anyway,” she added. Saubel’s work in preservation of the Cahuilla culture has taken her as far as Germany and Japan. Oddly, she found more interest in Cahuilla culture in Germany than at home. Sitting in the humble Malki Museum, she looked around. “Germany had a museum (Native American) that was a big block. We barely made this one. When I was invited to go to the University of Cologne, when I got there they welcomed me at the airport in my own language,” she recalled. “I was so excited. It was like coming home. I’ve been twice to Germany, and they know more about the tribes here than the people who live here. They know where they lived, how they dressed—everything about them. Here it’s nothing like that.” While Saubel considers the advent of tribal casinos to have contributed to a lack of interest on the part of tribal members in their own culture, she also noted they can have a positive impact when money they generate is used wisely. “I’m from the mountains,” she explained. “We had no running water up there, nothing at all, no electricity, to 19581960, when I became [tribal] chair. One of the casinos in San Diego County came, a young man came, and said, ‘You know, we have money now, and we’re going to

Cahuilla Tewanet, or “vista,” is a beautiful location on Highway 74 where you can learn about Cahuilla life, while taking in a stunning view of their traditional lands.

do like what Indians did a long time ago– whatever they had they shared with you. So we’re going to help you.’ They gave us money, those three casinos, so we put electricity on the reservation.” I asked if she thought that spirit has been lost. “Oh gosh, yes,” she answered. “It’s just terrible now. I think it’s going to be worse later on, but I’m going to be 90 pretty soon, so I’ll say goodbye to the cruel world.” She laughed. We discussed Cahuilla social rules and practices. They are the traditions of a structured civilization. I asked if there was a possibility of white society being interested enough to support the continuation of Cahuilla culture. “I don’t think so,” she replied. She recalled an experience she had at a restaurant in Beaumont when a woman said to those at her table, “I wish these people would go back where they came from.” “That’s still happening now, so why would they care to learn about our ways?” I told her I was just looking for a small glimmer of hope. Much of Cahuilla culture has been lost—tribal elders determined upon the death of the last tribal leader, or net, that there was no one left to serve in that capacity, to preside over rituals and meetings. They burned down the ceremonial house. By the time of Mariano’s death in 1985, there was reportedly no one who knew how to perform Cahuilla death rites properly. In 1989, the last of the Cahuilla shamans was gone. But Cahuilla culture hasn’t completely vanished. Up in the mountains, young people are listening and learning. “The ones I’ve been teaching may continue,” Katherine said. “Their children, the elders, they come sit with them and hear what I’ve been telling them.” June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 25

Get the Word Out


ill this happen? “CQ CQ CQ, this is KE6GMD Palm Springs, does anyone copy? There has been a major earthquake and local communications are down. The area is in need of immediate outside assistance. CQ CQ CQ KE6GMD Palm Springs.” Most of us live within the San Andreas Fault zone. In the past few weeks there have been dozens of small earthquakes, and some people think this could be the precursor to “The Big One,” a major magnitude quake that could be centered about 50 miles from here causing widespread devastation throughout SoCal. In light of Hurricane Katrina, we know it might be several weeks for outside assistance to become fully established, and in most disasters, areas with higher population densities get the earliest aid. Because of the remoteness of some desert communities, we might be physically cut off from the outside world, meaning no usable highways or runways to drive or land on to bring in relief. Unfortunately, many people don’t really give a damn about a potential disaster. “It’s not a real threat” or “the possibility is so remote I don’t have to worry about it.” And the fact that we are near Los Angeles, San Diego, and several military facilities also gives us a false sense of support and security. After all, the big cities will be able to help us, right? Not if they too are victims. So what will you do after a disaster? Assuming you have taken some steps, like a disaster kit for each family member kept in the car, what is the next step? Call someone: family, fire, police, anyone to let them know you need help or are OK. The problem is how? In a disaster of the kind expected here, it is assumed that our hi-tech communications will be the answer. WRONG! Realistically we can expect the 26 The Sun Runner – June/July 2009

landline and cell phone services to become unusable, from physical damage to cell phone sites or the system being overloaded or just being made unavailable by local officials who can block the cell system for their own use or to keep lines of communication open for emergency use. Statistically, some radio (including two-way radio) and most TV stations will remain on the air. So while the most important thing for us is to get the word out, it may not be possible. That’s where Land Mobile Radio (LMR), a generic term for most aspects of two-way radio communications, comes in: CB, HAM (amateur), FRS/GMRS, and business and emergency services like taxis, tow trucks, police, fire, anyone who is radio dispatched. Getting the word out is going to be tough with no electricity for regular phones and with antennas and towers lying on the ground in a worst case scenario. Even systems left undamaged may become overloaded. The answer is a set of twoway radios for your family. At about $75 and up for a pair, two-way radios can be short range (5-10 mi.) handhelds to some that can talk around the world. There are basically two types of radio in general use: AM and FM. The main difference between them is range and audio quality. AM radio signals bounce off the atmosphere, providing long range communications at low power <5 watts with fair to good audio quality. FM radio is line of sight with excellent audio quality including stereo, 5.1 channel surround and dolby. FM radio signals also carry data and penetrate the atmosphere, making it perfect for satellite, cell phone communications, and LMR radio systems. All two-way radio systems can be operated simplex (single frequency), radio-to-radio (except cell phones), or duplex (two frequencies) radio to repeater, translator or a remote base station to radio. Repeaters are typically used to allow FM radios to talk to each other when they are not in line-of-sight, e.g. on opposite sides of a mountain, or are out of range. So why choose radio over cell phone? Cell phones require a sophisticated infrastructure of computers, multi-channel repeaters called nodes, antenna towers and access to the landline phone system. Any part of that from single to multiple nodes goes down, so do cell phones in that area. There are also places cell phones don’t work or are out of range. In most instances, two-way radios overcome those limitations since they don’t rely on a complex infrastructure like cell phones. Even multi-channel computer operated LMR (police, fire, business) systems can switch to single channel simplex radio-to-radio mode should the infrastructure fail. Here are some

basic LMR and two-way radios available. Satellite phones are similar to cell phones. They use orbiting communications satellites (CommSats) instead of cell node towers. The disadvantage is the cost of an account and phone call. But if you can see the sky you can find a signal. The Family Radio (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) has been called the 21st Century CB radio. Having the excellent quality of FM radio along with a host of features, they are available everywhere. Handheld FRS/GMRS radios allow you to stay in touch with family and friends over ranges of 2-10+ miles. Handy at theme parks, sporting events, hiking. During a disaster, hundreds of people locally can keep in touch with each other using FRS/GMRS radios. Today many Emergency Operation Centers are starting to monitor FRS/GMRS channels after a disaster, and local neighborhood emergency services and watch teams are using FRS/ GMRS radios to stay in touch. These twoway FM radios have limited coverage in built-up areas, yet the signals have been known to bounce around to waiting receivers a fair distance away. The more sophisticated of these systems (GMRS) can also use repeaters to extend their range the same way an LMR radio system does. Visit for more info. Features include privacy codes, group call, channel scanning. Emergency channels are 1 and 9. The Garmin Rino series FRS/GMRS radios have a GPS locator that can be tracked from other Rino series radios. “Hey, good buddy, thar’s a bear in the air and I have a CB radio.” This radio made popular by truckers in the 1970s is virtually useless unless it is properly set up. CB is AM radio in a frequency band that is subject to interference by everything from powerlines to car ignitions. Nonetheless, if you can get someone to shut their mouth long enough you can be heard several hundred miles away under the right conditions, like late at night. The CB radio community always helps in an emergency, and a national organization called R.E.A.C.T. monitors channels 9 and 19 across North America. If you buy a CB radio, look for quality. Cheap CBs are worthless. Amateur or Ham radio is the ultimate in personal communications. Incorrectly called shortwave, Ham radio has extremely wide frequency coverage and requires a license (which doesn’t cost anything, although you have to take a test that even a fifth grader can pass). Ham radios have kept me from spending more than one night in the desert and have provided me with long range communication way before cell Continued on page 37 )

The Moon Maiden was beloved among the people for all of the things she taught them. Trouble arose when Mukat took liberties with the Moon Maiden, offending the taboo against incest. Moon Maiden left the people in distress and went to live by herself in the sky. The people became angry with Mukat. He had already put death into the world, and given poison to the rattlesnake. They decided amongst themselves to kill the god who created them. Mukat was poisoned by the people.


ummer in the desert is a time for us to gather our energy and reflect, a time to sit at night with friends and watch the moon and stars make their migration across the sky. It is also the perfect time to think about what kind of story we are creating with our lives—what we do for our daily work, how we treat each other, and how we treat the land we call home. There are stories in the desert of southern California that are far older than the story we are currently creating. Origin stories, from the Cahuilla and Serrano and Chemehuevi people. Before I go any further, I need to make a disclaimer. I am a white guy originally from Los Angeles, not a member of any tribe. There is a great potential for me to misinterpret or misrepresent a story from someone else’s culture. However, I believe that stories bring us closer to other people, to the earth, and to other living things. I believe that thinking about new contexts for understanding the desert around us can give us critical insight about our own present and future as much as they teach us about the past. So at the risk of being wildly inappropriate, I’m going to continue. The Cahuilla still sing a story about their creator, Mukat, who brought the sun from his heart. Mukat carefully shaped human beings and created much of the plant and animal world. This was in a time when Menily, the Moon, still lived here on earth, among the people. The Heart is Fire, by Deborah Dozier, contains an excellent account of this entire story, which takes more than an entire night to unfold, as told by shaman Perfecto Segundo and translated by Katherine Siva Saubel: The Moon Maiden took care of the creations. She took them and showed them games, how to make this from that, painted them and colored them. She put designs on them and made them dance. She just trained them in everything she could find.

But while Mukat was on his death bed, the people realized that they did not know how to mourn him properly. They had to consult with their dying god to learn important rituals for mourning, and how to address plants and other living things. Mukat sang a song to the people as he died, teaching them what they needed to know. The California desert today is a land in the midst of change. There are changes in climate, and changes in land use policy. There are proposals for massive landfills, and airports, and mines, and even renewable energy projects that seek to transform one of the last great wildernesses in America. When surveys are done on many of the proposed sites for these projects, entirely new species are discovered—plants previously unknown to science, according to respected botanist Dr. Jim Andre of UC Riverside’s Granite Mountain Research Station. We as a society are writing a story for this desert that will be told for the next thousand years. As we engage in this conversation about balancing development with the conservation of our unique wild heritage, I hope that we will consider the lessons that diverse cultures have to teach us. I hope that we will think about the humility of people who went to the bed of the god they had just poisoned, to listen and learn from him the names of the plants. This is all of our story being written on the land. I hope that we will we be able to tell it to our children and grandchildren with as much dignity, honesty, and sheer beauty as the Cahuilla still sing theirs. And in the meantime, I hope to sit with many of you under the stars this summer, to share stories and engage in the conversation about how best to honor and protect this desert we call our home.  June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 27


id you know Native American dances are evolving, just as rock-n-roll music evolved from the 1950s to today? Native dance outfits, called regalia, are evolving too. The resulting mixture of traditional, personal, and spiritual elements is exciting. Sage Romero, Tanya Montes, and Robert Allen Piper Jr. are three friends from Owens Valley who enjoy sharing their Native American dance artistry. As The Aka-Mya Cultural Dance Group, the trio travels to schools and events to raise awareness of indigenous culture through dance, song, and storytelling. Based in Big Pine, Aka-Mya performed for the community of Ridgecrest in April, sponsored by the Four Winds Intertribal Council of Indian Wells Valley. “We call ourselves a cultural group so we can do not only local traditional dances and songs, we can include Paiute style, which is a Pan-Indian Pow Wow style of dancing done across the U.S. and Canada,” said Romero. “It’s all about who you believe yourself to be, or who you identify with. I express my Native American side in dance.” Romero, 29, specializes in the Hoop Dance. Born in Bishop, he is proud of his Paiute/Taos Pueblo heritage. He grew up in Big Pine and spent summers with his father’s people in Taos, New Mexico. While there are variations in hoop dance styles using different numbers of hoops, Romero dances the Taos style, which uses five hoops. “The hoops are sacred symbols to our people, to celebrate life,” said Romero. He uses the hoops and his body to form shapes like trees, clouds, and eagles. “The 28 The Sun Runner – June/July 2009

dance has a healing effect for people watching.” He earned the right to learn this dance when he was 21, when he had gained enough respect among the elders of his tribe. He has been dancing ever since. Romero said he learned the basic moves in one month, and then spent the next eight years perfecting them. He views hoop dancing as a sacred trust. The hoops traditionally were made from red willow branches twined together. However, since he travels so much, he made his from PVC pipe and electrical tape. “These hoops have been all over the world with me—to the Middle East, Israel, Canada, Panama, South America, all over,” he said. “I use them as though they were made of traditional materials. I honor and respect them. They represent all that is within the old dances, so they’re a real blessing in my life.” There are two styles of Native American regalia that you may see at Pow Wows. The contemporary “Pow Wow” style, which makes use of brightly-colored modern fabrics, ribbons, sequins, and trims, has evolved over the last 50 years and is often worn by competition dancers. Each dancer chooses their own colors, symbols, and materials, so the overall effect is highly personalized. The brilliant colors, swirling ribbons, and gleaming fabrics are meant to catch the eyes of audience and judges alike. The various styles signify specific dances rather than tribal associations. Traditional regalia, utilizing natural materials, usually represents tribal affiliations. Each article a dancer wears may represent an ancient symbol, historical con-

nection, or honor given. Many dancers wear Pow Wow-style regalia at public events and traditional regalia at tribal gatherings, which are seldom open to the public. Romero wears modified Pow Wowstyle regalia that evolved specifically for Hoop Dancers. The designs he chose are Paiute and Taos tribal symbols that represent the Earth, the cycle of the world, and the morning star. Tanya Montes, Paiute, performs Fancy Shawl and Jingle Dress dances. She lives in Owens Valley with her family and two sons. Her fiery orange regalia, with elaborate designs and sparkling sequins, was handmade by her sister. The Fancy Shawl Dance evolved in Oklahoma after World War II. Before that time, only men danced in the dance arena. During the War, Native American women fought alongside the men. When they returned, the men wanted to honor the women’s courage in fighting beside them, so they allowed the women into the circle to dance beside them. At first, the women did the same dance steps the men did. Later, the women developed a graceful style of their own, which became the Fancy Shawl Dance. A special shawl, trimmed with long fringe and fancy decorations, is swirled around to symbolize butterfly wings. The accompanying lively hopping step is more difficult to master than the men’s dance step. Robert Allen Piper Jr., 26, Paiute/ Shoshone, dances the Northern Traditional Intertribal. This dance originated in the Montana to Canada area, and was given as a gift to the people for Pow Wows. He performed a dance called “Duck and Dive,” from the Nez Perce people. The dance tells the story of a battle against American soldiers. A periodic loud boom in the music represents cannon fire in the long-ago battle. At the boom, the dancer ducks to avoid the cannon shot, just as the Nez Perce did as they fought to protect their families. Piper carries an eagle claw given to him by his father. Some of the feathers he wears were given to him as honor gifts by family members. Even the designs in the face paint he wears have meaning. “The big thing about our group is getting out there and raising awareness and empowerment and knowing your identity, regardless of where you’re from,” he said. “We’re still here as indigenous people, working hard to be successful in today’s society and maintain our culture through song, dance, stories, and beliefs.” For more information on Aka-Mya, see  Writer Linda Saholt lives in Ridgecrest.


ay, 1848. Gold was discovered a few months earlier at Sutter’s Mill but the great Gold Rush had not yet begun. The war with Mexico was over ,and much of the West now belonged to the United States. The Old Spanish Trail, a network of horse trails from New Mexico through Utah and Nevada to California’s desert country, was nearing the end of its usefulness, but that was not yet understood. A few trading caravans might still make their way from Santa Fe to Los Angeles and Walkara, and his makeshift but formidable raiding party would still try to exact tribute as these stragglers passed through Indian country. As California got ready to welcome 300,000 new gold-hungry immigrants, the last significant caravan over the Old Spanish Trail was about to begin. In early 1848 Col. Richard Barnes Mason, the military governor of California, ordered George D. Brewerton to leave San Francisco for Los Angeles. This was the start of an auspicious adventure for Brewerton, who would go on to gain fame as a skilled of-

ficer, adventurer, gifted artist, author, lawyer, preacher, poet, and real estate agent. Brewerton was born in Rhode Island in 1827 and had attended the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, no doubt assisted in this education by his father who was superintendent at the Academy. Col. Mason ordered him to report to an army detachment which had been guarding Cajon Pass and was under the command of the legendary Kit Carson at Los Angeles. Carson had been ordered to complete a courier mission all the way to Washington, D.C. Lt. Brewerton left historians a great prize—he made a detailed account of their travels along the Old Spanish Trail. This account was first published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in installments starting in 1853. It was ultimately published as a full length book in 1930 under the title Overland with Kit Carson. If you listened to Kit Carson, the trip was uneventful. The St. Louis Republican reported in its August 4, 1848, issue that “Mr. Kit Carson bearer of dispatches from California arrived in the city this morning. He met with no adventure of any interest as far as Santa Fe.” Fortunately for us, Brewerton thought enough of the adventure to publish a full book. George Brewerton’s description of Los Angeles at the dawn of the Gold Rush, and his appreciation of the fame of Kit Carson as they prepared for their trip over the Old Spanish Trail through the California Desert to New Mexico, follows. The Pueblo de Los Angeles has a population of several hundred souls, and boasts a church, a padre, and three or four American shops; the streets are narrow, and the houses generally not over one story high, built of adobes, the roofs flat and covered with a composition of gravel mixed with a sort of mineral pitch, which the inhabitants say they find upon the sea-shore.... The adobe is brick, made of clay, and baked in the sun. Walls built of this material, from the great thickness necessary to secure strength, are warmer in the winter, and cooler in the summer, and are therefore better adapted to the climate than either wood or ordinary brick.... Just as I was beginning to weary of the comparatively idle life which we were leading, a friend informed me that Carson had arrived, and would shortly join our party at the mess-room. The name of this celebrated mountaineer had become in the ears of Americans residing in California a familiar household word; and I had frequently listened to wild tales of daring feats which he had performed. The narra-

tors being oftentimes men noted for their immense powers of endurance, I had caught, almost insensibly, a portion of their enthusiasm, and loved to dwell upon the theme. It is scarcely wonderful, then, that I should in my mind’s eye a quiet little studio of my own, where I could conjure up all sorts of fancies, not only sketch but, by degrees, fill up the details of a character which I thought must resemble the guide and companion of the adventurous Fremont. My astonishment may better be conceived than described, when I turn both sides of the canvas to the reader, by drawing the picture as I had dreamed it out, and then endeavoring to portray the man as he really is. The Kit Carson of my imagination was over six feet high—a sort of modern Hercules in his build—with an enormous beard, and a voice like a roused lion, whose talk was all of—“Stirring incidents by flood and field.” The real Kit Carson I found to be a plain, simple, unostentatious man; rather below the medium height, with brown, curling hair, little or no beard, and a voice as soft and gentle as a woman’s. In fact, the hero of a hundred desperate encounters, whose life had been mostly spent amid wildernesses; where the white man is almost unknown, was one of Dame Nature’s gentlemen—a sort of article which she gets up occasionally, but nowhere in better style than among the backwoods of America. Kit Carson arranged with Brewerton to travel some 15 miles east of Los Angeles to a small stream where they would make final preparations for starting their adventure over Cajon Pass and across the desert. Brewerton was eager to leave. For one thing, I had grown heartily tired of fleas, with which the houses in town are densely populated; and in the second place, I wished to get an insight into the sort of gypsy-life which I must necessarily lead for some months to come.... I provided myself with a tin-cup which might hold about a quart, for no true mountaineer ever drinks less than that amount of coffee at a sitting—if he can get it. To these articles I added a common fork, a large bowie knife, and a rifle ... two Mexican blankets serving me at once for mattress, sheets, and pillow-cases, while my saddle gave a rude, but never-failing pillow. They rode for three hours to their camp where they joined 20 men and camped for a month in preparation for the expedition.  Paul F. Smith is a desert historian and coowner of the 29 Palms Inn. He has co-authored “Images of America: Twentynine Palms.” June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 29


he Land of Little Rain is a classic account of the Owens Valley and Eastern Sierra region by Mary Hunter Austin. Mary, born 1868 in Illinois, grew up and graduated from Blackburn College. In 1888 the family moved west to California and homesteaded in the Ft. Tejon area. Mary taught school in a small community near Bakersfield where she met Stafford Wallace Austin. Austin, born 1860 in Hawaii, had graduated from University of California, Berkeley, and was working in Bakersfield. He and Mary were married in 1891. Mary had begun writing poetry while at Blackburn, and she continued during her teaching years. In 1892 Wallace (as Mary called her husband) accepted a job managing an irrigation ditch at Lone Pine in the Owens Valley. The couple settled there. In October 1892 their daughter, Ruth, was born. Wallace’s job failed. Mary, with Ruth, moved up to Bishop to teach at the Inyo Academy, returning after two years to Lone Pine to teach there for several years. Wallace taught at George’s Creek school, then became superintendent of the Lone Pine school district. During these years, Mary’s dedication to her literary efforts increased. In 1899 she visited Los Angeles, where she met Charles Lummis, a noted editor, who urged her to publish her poetry and essays. When she returned to the Owens Valley, she settled in Independence where Wallace had taken a position as registrar for the U.S. General Land Office. In 1900 the Austins began construction of their two-story home on Market Street (still standing). Mary devoted full time to the writing of her first book, The Land of Little Rain, which was published in 1903, followed by The Basket Woman (1904), Isidrio (1905), and The Flock (1906). These were trying years for Mary. Her daughter Ruth, as she emerged from infancy, was mentally deficient, requiring a great deal of care. Furthermore, Mary’s marriage with Wallace was deteriorating. She saw him as a failure who could not keep a permanent job, was insensitive to her needs, etc. Also, at the end of 1903 she visited friends in San Francisco and met George Sterling, a poet, who squired her around town, toured Carmel with her, and introduced her to his many friends. She became infatuated with him and his lifestyle. In January 1904, Mary placed Ruth, age 11 years, under the care of Dr. R. Osborne for a trial period in his sanitarium located in Santa Clara.A year later in January 1905, Mary signed papers to permanently keep Ruth in that facility. In the words of Mary’s biographer, Augusta Fink, “She was never to see her daughter again.” Ruth passed away in October 1918 at age 26. 30 The Sun Runner – June/July 2009

By early 1906, Mary had left her husband and the Owens Valley. She moved up to Carmel where she attached herself to Sterling, met Jack London and others in the “Bohemian Colony” and started anew. Her life and up-and-down literary career for the next 28 years is best told by Augusta Fink. Mary died in New Mexico on August 13, 1934. What about Stafford Wallace Austin? Following Mary’s departure, he too left the Owens Valley. He opened a law practice in Oakland. In 1909, he was appointed by a U.S. District Court as receiver for the California Trona Corporation, a troubled minerals company in the Searles Valley. It was his duty to take over the properties of the corporation, serve in the capacity of president, and manage the corporation to protects its assets and claims and continue it as an operating entity. During the next nine years, he successfully thwarted many challenges to the claims covering 3,320 acres in the Searles lakebed. He reorganized the company into American Trona Corporation and in 1918 organized and presented the legal argument before the Department of the Interior that resulted in reaffirming the legality of the claims for the 3,320 acres. At the conclusion of his receivership, Austin remained with American Trona (later named American Potash and Chemical Corporation) as manager of its office in Los Angeles until 1929, when he was retained as a consultant for special projects until his death on Sept. 12, 1931. In 1914, a community building with unique architectural features was constructed and named Austin Hall. For more than 50 years, it was the signature emblem for the town of Trona. When it became known that Austin Hall would be demolished in 1965, George Pipkin, noted local historian and journalist, penned an article urging that a suitable momument be erected at the site to commemorate the “fighting man” Austin and the building. It was so done in 2002. 

John Di Pol, Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert.

Ramblings from Randsburg

Left: The “new” Randsburg Elementary School and students playing in the yard, October 3, 1902. Above: Randsburg High School band students, 1942. Below: Atolia School and students, 1910.

By Lorraine Blair


know. I know. School is OUT right now…so why bring up the subject? Everyone needs a break from the school routine, right? Summertime is time to RELAX! But it never hurts to remember that in the early mining days of the Rand, schools were important signs of longed for civilization. School memories became a golden part of mining camp life. Randsburg’s first school had been built on the slope of Fiddler’s Gulch. The building had formerly been a brewery and was selected because it was the largest structure to be found outside Randsburg’s business district, which was composed mostly of saloons, dance halls, and gambling places. Wide, uncovered porches with high railings ran around three sides of the school. Boys and girls each had their own side of the classroom; they sat on homemade redwood seats which held six students… and the redwood was easy to carve even with a dull knife, according to Grover Kane from the boy’s side. Early student Teresa McCarthy Kane remembered that: “The school had two classrooms and two teachers. A small shed built on the back of the school was used as a cloakroom and held our coats, lunch pails and a large tank of drinking water. Under the faucet of the water tank, anchored to its handle with a small chain, was a tin dipper from which all in the school drank. Our mothers never understood why every child had measles that spring!” 1901 saw the building of a brand new elementary school perched high on a hill

on the south side of Randsburg. The 1900 census showed 91 Randsburg children over the age of 10 and 61 under that age. Many school pictures survive; keeping those pictures for many, many years seems to show the importance of mining camp schools…and children…as hope for the future. As time moved on, further progress came to the remote Rand. Photos have surfaced of early school busses in Atolia and Randsburg. 1942 saw the publication of the first yearbook of Randsburg High School, a part of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District. The principal, James Arthur Finley, wrote to the stu-

dents: Make your ideal a Randsburg that grows greater each year. This means service. Make up your mind to serve. When you walk past old Randsburg High on Butte, think of what graduate June Wyckoff wrote: Here we are far from the outside world, Far from the cities cares and strife. Here a beauty bathes the soul, And there is new meaning to life. 

Writer Lorraine Blair’s small books about Randsburg are in the permanent collection of the Historical Room, California State Library. June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 31

Desert Theatre Beat

By Jack Lyons Sun Runner Theatre Editor For the last five months we’ve heard a lot of complaining about cold and windy weather in our valley and hi-desert communities. It’s only June and we’re already sweltering and lamenting the passing of the cold and windy weather we have been complaining about. Ah, humans. Puck was right—what fools these mortals be. What the weather does signal, however, is the passing of the live theatre season. Come June, most of our snow birds, “rain birds” (if you’re from the Pacific Northwest), and weekenders return to cooler climes—Big Bear Lake for desert locals. Most live theatres go on hiatus until late September or October. There are exceptions—Theatre 29 up in Twentynine Palms—but more about them later. As way of saying thank you to the many performers and creative people who put their talent on display for our entertainment, here are some recent honorees for excellence in live theatre... The “Encore Award” is presented by the Critic’s Roundtable of the TV show Desert Entertainment This Week. The locally produced show is seen every week during the season, and can be seen six days a week over the summer on TV channel My 13, Time Warner Cable channel 111, and “On Demand” channel 1090. Tune in and catch your favorite theatre group or actor receive a kudo and award. (I have the inside track on the information, as I am one of the show’s critic/reviewers.) There are so many deserving theatres and performers, but those we did select this season richly deserved their recognition. For readers and fans who don’t have cable or a way of tuning in to the TV show, the complete list of honorees for The Encore Awards are as follows: An Ensemble Award to Little Women of College of the Desert, with Special Mentions to Kaley Smith and Julie Rosser, as Jo and Marmee. A Directing Award to Patricia Smith for the Groves Cabin Theatre production of 12 Angry Men. An 32 The Sun Runner – June/July 2009

Ensemble Award to the Palm Canyon Theatre production The King and I. The Patsy Garrett Award for Service to the Arts Community to Jenise Fryatt. Breakout Acting Encore Award to Suzie Thomas-Wourms, and Shep Sanders Award for Raising Actor Standards to actor Tres Dean. The Andy Fraga Musician’s Award for helping other musicians went to music director and pianist Paul Cracchiolo. Encore Acting Awards to Eric Olson and Margo Lisk, for the LQ Playhouse production Maybe Baby, It’s You. The Encore Award for outstanding cabaret to Tonia Bern-Campbell and her show The Colors of My Life produced by Rubinsky Productions at Indio Performing Arts Center (IPAC). Encore Award for Acting Excellence to Yve Evans and Louise Ross for the Joslyn Players drama Going To St. Ives. An Ensemble Award for Excellence to Palm Canyon Theatre for Noises Off. Two categories were added this year: The Dorothy Hamilton Award for Business Community Arts Patron was awarded to Don Genhart, along with his new title “Prince of the Desert.” The Vic Leon Inspiration Award first-recipient is local entertainer and singer Mel Oshins. Congratulations to Encore Award Honorees!

Their July/August production is the hilarious Mel Brooks musical The Producers. Once again, the dynamic duo of Gary Daigneault and Ed Will will direct the Theatre 29 annual summer extravaganza production. The creative duo has produced eight years of block-buster hits for the Twentynine Palms theatre. And there’s no reason to expect anything other than another hit show. Reservations fill up fast, so reserve early. The show performs Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. beginning Friday, July 17 and runs through Saturday, August 15. For tickets, call the box office at (760)3614151 or go to



Groves Cabin Theatre–Morongo Valley The Groves, the most honored of valley and Hi-Desert live theatres, just announced that their production of local playwright Delores Becker’s play Van Gogh will indeed open on Saturday, June 6 for a limited four-performance run. Becker, who also directs the play, has low desert actor Lloyd Steele starring as Vincent, with a cast that includes: Marcel Becker, Anja Homburg, Krista Kanuch, Rebecca T. Renish, and Jeff Wood. The play performs Saturday, June 6 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 7 at 2:30 p.m. and again June 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Reservations for this limited run show can be obtained by calling (760)365-4523. The Groves presented two outstanding productions last season: Doubt, A Parable, intelligently and sensitively directed by Jeannette Lyons (your “Spotlight On” columnist for The Sun Runner), and 12 Angry Men, wonderfully directed by Patricia Smith. Both told powerful and compelling stories that were acted by talented casts.

Palm Canyon Theatre–Palm Springs Despite the approach of summer and temperatures hovering under and over 115 degrees during June and July, The Palm Canyon hangs in there for its last show of their season. The Little Shop of Horrors, a classic cult favorite of the “30 to 50” set returns to the theatre for a limited eight performance run beginning July 9. Performances are Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. through July 19. The funky and kinky comedy directed by Rosemary Mallet will be presented as part of the theatre’s “Hot Summer Nights” schedule. For reservations, call (760)323-5123.

Theatre 29–Twentynine Palms Theatre 29 is the only live theatre venue in the low valley and hi-desert that performs year-round, 12 months a year.

Hi-Desert Cultural Center–Blak Box Theatre–Joshua Tree The Blak Box Theatre presents a staged reading of Swift Fox: Conflicting Stories of Willie Boy on June 20 at 7 p.m. The script by playwright Ron House, with music by Jarrod Radnich and Craig Knudsen, is being performed in preparation for a play that will run at Hi-Desert Cultural Center this fall, exactly 100 years after the infamous Willie Boy Incident and the final gun battle that took place only a few miles away. (760)366-3777.

Thorny Theater of Palm Springs The only live theatre venue serving the GLBT community in the valley, the Thorny Theater presents two one-acts: Doric Wilson’s Forever After and Robert Askins’ Clean Living, under the banner of “Summer Heat” discounted summer shows. Both plays star Kyle Bradford, Terry Huber, Philip Sebastian Petrie, and Tedd Zenia, and both are directed by Jim Strait with costumes by Peter Mins. Performances for the two one-acts are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., running June 5 through

June 28. Performances include nudity and are intended for mature audiences only. The second presentation at Thorny this summer is Chiaroscuro, by Florida playwright Kenneth N. Kurtz. The drama revolves around a great painter who hires a young model to pose, bound and naked, and is a study in power, passion, and control. Chiaroscuro opens Friday, July 10, and performs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through August 1. For tickets, call Thorny Box Office at (760)325-0853. REGIONALTHEATRES C.A.T.S. (Community Arts Theatre Society)–Big Bear Valley Here’s a great way to beat the heat of the valley floor and hidesert trails this June and July. Catch a performance of The Wizard of Oz in the cool and lush Alpine setting of Big Bear Lake. Karen Sargent Rachels directs the L.Frank Baum family favorite, featuring a cast of more than 40 C.A.T.S. Performances of Oz will be presented at Big Bear Lake Performing Arts Center: June 26, 27, July 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 11, at 7:30 p.m. On June 28, July 5, and 12, matinees begin at 1:30 p.m. C.A.T.S. shows come with Broadway quality sets and costumes, and a ticket is one of the best theatrical bargains anywhere. I’ve seen many of their shows—they’re terrific. Contact the PAC Box Office at (909)8664970, or

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CLOTA Center Stage–Ridgecrest The Community Light Opera and Theater Association presents its summer show, I Do! I Do! —a heartwarming musical staged by Production Director Elena Vitale and Assistant Director Barbara Auld. Adapted in 1966 from a Tony Award-winning play, this two-character Broadway hit climaxed the legendary careers of its stars, Mary Martin and Robert Preston. With tunes crafted by the composing team who also created The Fantasticks, I Do! I Do! chronicles five decades in the lives of Agnes and Michael Snow from their wedding night in 1898 through laughter and laments, desires and disappointments, tribulations and triumphs that many will find touchingly recognizable. Performances are July 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25. CLOTA Center Stage, 1425 N. Inyo Street, Ridgecrest. Call CLOTA hotline (760)446-2411. A two-hour drive from Palm Springs: The Old Globe Theatre of San Diego in Balboa Park is presenting Cornelia (The George Wallace story) written by Mark V. Olsen. Cornelia performs Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday performances are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. through June 21. If you thought knew about George Wallace, think again. When Cornelia Folsom enters his life, Alabama will never be the same again. The powerful and provocative Arthur Miller drama, The Price, performs in the Arena Stage at James S. Copley Auditorium, San Diego Art Museum (next door to Old Globe Theatre) through June 14. Curtain times are the same as for Cornelia. One of the most popular attractions in Balboa Park in the summer is the Old Globe Shakespeare and classic plays presentations in the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre. This season, the Old Globe presents Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Coriolanus in repertory with Cyrano de Bergerac. All three plays begin June 13 and run through September 27. Ticket information for all Old Globe productions is available at or by calling (619)234-5623. For more views and reviews on shows throughout Southern California, read my Blog at See you at the theatre.  June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 33

FADE IN: Summer has always been the time of year for “the movie blockbuster,” when the kids were out of school and Hollywood could market its product aggressively to the 15- to 25-year-old set. Well, things haven’t really changed that much. Hollywood and world cinema producers still premiere their summer movies with young people in mind. The wrinkle in the picture is those young kids of before are now the 30- and 50-year-olds of today that makeup a significant number of movie patrons. And don’t forget the changing tastes in subject matter. Younger audiences apparently want to see more gore, horror, and violence—a lot of it in outer space, as well as in animated features— which is not necessarily, the older audience’s cup of tea. Another wrinkle that movie producers now face is the growing technology and acceptance of the Internet as a provider of products traditionally the province of the theatres. A few years back, movie houses were competing with the video stores and network television and the TCM’s and AMC’s and “24 hour movies on demand” options. Hey, it’s tough out there, folks, especially if you’re in today’s movie exhibition business. And, oh yeah, don’t forget to factor today’s economy into the equation. But it’s not all that bleak. The oasis in the movie wasteland is still the movie festival circuit and the growth of “film societies” as a traditional way of seeing movies as you remember them. Case in point, here in our desert paradise, the Desert Film Society will screen the movie The Headless Woman, a Spanish language film with English subtitles, at The 34 The Sun Runner – June/July 2009

Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs on Saturday, June 6, at 9:30 a.m. It’s an opportunity to view another culture without ever using your passport or leaving the country. The Camelot’s doors open at 9 a.m., with film introductions at 9:20 a.m. and complimentary refreshments. It’s free to Desert Film Society members and only $15 at the door to the general public. A Q&A discussion session with the audience follows the film. Here’s another option for consideration that’s tough to beat. The Palm Springs International Film Society, in conjunction with the Friends of the Rancho Mirage Public Library, presents a free “Behind The Scenes” filmmaker speaker series on the second Tuesday of every month through December. PSIFS Education Coordinator, Deborah Dearth, will host movie industry speakers and guests for the entire series. All sessions are held at 7 p.m. in the Rancho Mirage Public Library, 71-100 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage. On Tuesday, June 9, “Casting the Movie” is the topic for discussion with David Rubin, 18-time nominee and twotime winner of the Casting Society of America’s Artios Award. How many times have we said, “I can cast that movie better than that.” Well, there are many reasons, not usually available to movie audiences, as to why casting choices are made. So here’s your opportunity to listen and play casting director with the professionals. On Tuesday, July 14, “The Role of the Production Designer” will be the topic of discussion. The production designer is one of the most creative and important members of any movie endeavor. Whatever the camera sees on the set has already been “seen” by the production designer before one frame of film is shot. Production Designer Lauren Polizzi will discuss the finer points of the art form. For more information, call Deborah Dearth at (760)322-2930, ext. 222. Movies can indeed be better, if better understood. Think about it. And not to be missed is the 15th Palm Springs International ShortFest, Short Film and Festival & Film Market, from June 23 through June 29. It’s the premiere short film festival in the country. Normally held in August, Executive Director Darryl Macdonald and team moved the event to June as a way to avoid the searing heat of August. It also affords the filmmakers, producers, and distributors more time to schmooze and haggle outdoors. Film buffs and movie

Palm Springs International Film Society presents a “Behind the Scenes” filmmaker speaker series, featuring Lauren Polizzi (above) on “Production Design” July 14. Polizzi was Art Director for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Knocked Up, The TV Set, Lost World: Jurassic Park, Transformers 2, and received an ADG and Oscar nomination for How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

fans will have the opportunity to view more than 320 films from 40 countries. If you like short films, this is the festival for you. It’s creative, it’s entertaining, and it’s here in Palm Springs. Palm Springs International Film Society (PSIFS) member sales begin online at June 14. The Camelot Theatres begin selling tickets to ShortFest on June 16. Call their box office at (760)325-6565, or go online at See you at the Festival. FADE OUT: The Sun Runner is now partnering with Desert Cities Network to offer video content for businesses and organizations in the California desert region.

Judy Wishart at JT Music Festival, and Johnette Napolitano art installation.


he Harmony Ridge Creekdippers (Victoria Williams, Mark Olson and Mike “Razz” Russell) reunited after three years in March. They started with a warm-up show for the guys I care for at Angel View, and what a treat it was! All my guys played tambourines along with some of my favorite songs such as “Kashmirs Corn” and “Mockingbird.” Later that evening the band played in the courtyard of True World Gallery and Mount Fuji General store for the opening of Brett Leigh Dicks’ photography show. Also on the bill was outstanding singer-songwriter Natalie D-Napoleon. The following night they did a surprise show at Pappy and Harriet’s. Victoria has been working with Calexico; Mark has been touring with his fellow bandmate from Jayhawks, Gary Louris; and Razz is a pastor at the House of Mercy in St. Paul, Minnesota. So thank you Vic, Mark, and Razz from all of us. We were all truly saddened by the passing of our dear friend Duane Jarvis (DJ) after a long bout with colon cancer. An amazing musician and beautiful being, DJ always had a smile for everyone, and it was always a joy when I would see him sit in with his many friends up here. He told me that the night he sat in with The Thrift Store All Stars, and Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin also sat in, was one of the highlights of his life, and you could tell by the smile on his face that it was. We will miss you DJ! The 5th annual Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Camp Out will once again be held at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown on Sept. 11 & 12, with “Crumbs”(Cracker/

CVB fans) coming from all over the world. They are two of my favorite bands. They rock the house, always take time for a meet and greet with their fans, and with the release of Cracker’s new CD, Sunrise In The Land Of Milk And Honey, they are back on top of the charts. Tickets are available at The 7th annual Joshua Tree Music Festival in May once again proved that music is the soul of life. With attendance at another high, the music was mesmerizing and riveting, with tribal drum beats that almost put you in an altered state. There were incredible art installations, resting lounges, a cuddle dome, misting and cooling stations set up throughout the festival (and of course the Sierra Nevada beer garden built by Guy Green!). Wally Ingram even sat in with two-man dynamo Materi-

alized. So, to Barnett and Kris and the many locals who spent months setting up for the festival, “you know who you are and you know what you did,” thank you! Looking forward to the Joshua Tree Roots Festival at JT Lake on Oct. 10 & 11, featuring such bands as The Sadies, Kelly Joe Phelps, and Rose’s Pawn Shop. Congratulations to Linnzi Zaorski and Jim Austin who have been touring and recently opened for Tom Jones. You should really see Linnzi—she is a gem and will be playing at the 4th of July Bash at Pappy’s. Over at Joshua Tree Saloon was the debut of David Butterfield’s new band The Poison Okies, and Krissie Gregory and Harmondale. Check out the Saloon’s open mic on Tuesdays. There Be Pirates! are heading out on their tour of England with stops at the Scarborough Sea Fest and Merseyside Maritime Museum. Go ye Pirates! And thanks to two people who helped me last issue when my camera broke— Valerie Gill who took the photo of Ricky Lee Jones, and Fritz Drumm who shot Sam Sloneker at the Really Shooo CD release party. I have a new camera now and am Duane ready for the Jarvis summer. 

Scenes from Joshua Tree Music Festival 2009 and (left) sound technician Steve Lester.

June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 35

Sustainable Living

Simple Times in a Simple Place Wattle and Daub whilst practicing Margoism... (via David Brown)


mergingfrom a stand of tamarisk bushes, I have this strange feeling of being watched. The air is still and I have stopped in my tracks, like a wary coyote or perhaps a kid sneaking an apple from the neighbor’s tree. I think of ditching seventh grade math class to play baseball at the park and not get caught. Yes, the delights of youth, followed by irresponsible adultness. I love it! Everyone is a deviant from time to time, aren’t they, my friends? If there was always order, there could be no disorder, and therefore no reaction with equal and opposite reaction ... so says Pasquali, philosopher and fisherman (this morning at least). As I stand in the Colorado Desert, drops of water hit the side of my shoe and not a cloud in sight. A fly buzzes about my head in a sort of one-way tango with my ear, looking for a partner perhaps, when another of his (or hers, how do you tell?) buddies joins in. Together, they buzz about like tiny airborne chain saws. Now I hear voices. The conversation sort of goes like this: “Why are you so cheap, Guns? What do you mean, cheap, Frank? Cheap, you know, like why don’t you just go to Blythe or Yuma and just buy a plastic barrel. I don’t have a car or ride, Frank. Then buy one or bum one. Why, I’ve got mud and sticks! Hey man, it only costs about 20 bucks plus gas and my lunch! I don’t have 20 bucks, spent it on food and beer yesterday morning hanging out with that Pasquali. I know you got it, you’re just being cheap! What I don’t have, Frank, is a day’s worth of travel and aggravation! Guns, you’re something else, just to save a few bucks!”

Suddenly, the conversation stops and four pairs of eyes stare my way, three primate, one canine. Observed. The coyote emerges from his lair. Little Jimmy is caught, dead busted, standing on third base by the truant officer with no place to run! Damn, third time this month and his parents are not going to be happy campers. But I am, although it is all starting to smell a bit fishy by now. Fishy in the middle of a desert. Out of the ordinary. Different! Deviant! “Okay, what are you doing?” I say. The coyote is looking over his shoulder with sneaky eyes. You know the look. “If I think you can’t see me, you can’t see me.” All things are relative. Little Jimmy is eyeing the brush past left field, thinking about a run. I am just standing here. “Nice fish, Pat,” replies Gun. “Come on over, buddy, I got something I want to show you.” I walk towards Guns, an old guy from Iowa everyone just calls Frank, and then there is this long tall blonde appearing to be holding up the wall of that tent cabin where Guns hangs his hat, and she is smoking what looks like a cigarette and drinking some coffee. She exhales. Guns offers to take the fish and puts them in a bucket of cold water for the time being. “They’ll make a great lunch for us, with pepper and lemon and water with lime or perhaps a jug wine,” he says. There is time for this later. There is always time for this later when you live true desert fashion in the desert. Just ask any turtle, my friends. “Right now, check this out...” “Looks like monkeys made it,” says Frank, which is countered by an abrupt, gruff, however playful, “Shut up, Frank,” from Guns. The blonde looks on, silent. “What I do here, Pat, is build a water cistern out of mud and sticks!” “Bellisima!” I say, and really, is it not so? This is like the rock and mud cisterns used to catch rainwater on the islands off the eastern coast of Italy or the Canary Islands of Spain. I’m as excited as a puppy. “But yours uses no rock?” “Not a one! Instead I use a base of sticks set in a circle as a sort of form. Check it out, man. You put a stick in the middle of where you want to build the thing. Then, tie a string to that stick half as long

as you want the width of your circle to be. Tie another stick to that free end, and trace a circle in the ground. Yeah, Frank, I know you think it is a lot of work but why make it look like monkeys made it? Anyways, Pat, then you start driving down sticks into the ground about five or six inches. Gotta use good sticks, those Athols do real well once they are dried out. See, they’re good for more than just shade! I wish some of the people in the desert were really this useful! Well then, you wire the tops together and start another circle inside or out, it doesn’t really matter, and wire that one up too. Then, you make a sort of ‘grill’ out of smaller ones and place it in the bottom. The one over near my garden is made of sand stake fencing stuck into the ground, but I don’t have any more so I am using sticks. “See here, you alternate them so there is always a stick filling a void. This way, the mud will have something to bond with and it gives the whole thing strength as well. If I had some chicken wire or something like that, I would add some of that as well. Since I don’t, I won’t.” “It’s because he’s cheap,”says Frank. “Yeah, and if a bullfrog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his butt a hoppin! Like I was saying Pat, this gives the mud something to bond with. And the mud has to be good and sticky, like this.” Guns holds a lump of wet mud in his right and rolls it into a small ball. He can throw it upwards, just a small bit, mind you, like a nervous pitcher with a three-two count on a warm spring day. “If it holds a shape like this, you know it’s good enough. Mix some dry desert grass into the stuff when you do the batch. You can use straw, too, if you got some around, but make sure it is cut so the insects won’t breed in the tubes. Anyways, you then just do this...” Grabbing a handful of the mud in his right hand, sans glove, he begins on the floor of the cistern and starts packing the material between the wattles, as he calls them. Then he starts the same going around the base of the wall all the way up to the top. When he has finished this, Guns will start the outside as well. “When I finish this rough work, I’ll make a fine finish plaster. This I will screen sift with my dry screen I use for pros-

Ride with Shawn Mafia down the unlit back roads of the

Dark Desert

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36 The Sun Runner – June/July 2009

pecting. I’ll use a rotating motion,” which he demonstrates, “working it all in real good and smooth. After it all dries, I’ll put six to eight coats of limewash over it to seal it all up. The great thing about all this is that you can build walls, little cabins, bancos or benches, walkways, all sorts of stuff just out of earth and clay and water. And hell, man, we got earth and clay everywhere. The water can be a bit tricky at times, but we make do. That’s what’s so good about American Desert Rats, Pat. We make do!” Guns stares out into the desert, past Frank and Margo and the tent cabin, through the Tamarisk trees and past the birds and towards the haze surrounding the sun. We are all briefly quiet. Finally, as if to break the silence, the blonde finishes that smoke and walks over towards us. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot,” says Guns, breaking his trance and turning to me with a big toothy smile, Pancho Villa mustachio elongated and facial expressions animated. “Pat, this is my friend from over Thermal way. Call her Margo. Margo, this is my friend Pat, or Pasquali.” “Pasquali?” she replies. “You are real? I thought you were just a figment of David’s imagination.” “There’s nothing imagined about this guy,” replies Guns. “Anyways, Pat, Margo here lives a simple life as well. She has a job she likes and makes enough to get by and also have a good time. Riding horses, drinking coffee, eating Thai food and such creature comforts as that. A good dog. By the way, Margo, how is Charlie B Barkin doing? Sure, her car is old and her house is small, but what else does one need. Gave up the hectic life of debt and too much work and too little time. Let me tell you, buddy, this is one woman nearly always in a good mood! It’s cause she lives simple and on the cheap, just like me!” “Yeah, you got the cheap part right,” says Frank. “I call it Margoism,” replies the blonde. Guns calls it peace and so do I. Until next time, my friends, let your days be filled with joy and inspiration and simple pleasure! Peace!  –Pasquali

DeRanger Steve, continued from page 26 phones. In June 1998BC (before cell phones) with a blown engine about 20 miles north of Desert Center, in temps around 108F, a Ham radio in the car helped my wife and me to get home instead of spending the night in the desert. By relaying the radio signal through a repeater and into a remote controlled Ham radio base station, I was able to call for help to a friend in Rancho Mirage, who rescued us 4 hours later. Ham radios operate on every frequency band available in all radio modes, have their own communications satellites, and can be worked from your car with a typical dual band handheld radio hooked to a high quality mobile antenna. To get the signal out means an antenna—anything from a short piece of wire to complicated directional antennas. It’s amazing what a correctly sized piece of wire will do. When cell phones and land lines go down, battery operated handheld and mobile two-way radios will save the day, except if the battery is dead. Murphy’s Law: “Batteries fail when you need them most.” ~Ja~ne. Email and visit us at or at

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760-365-1158 56840 29 Palms Hwy • Yucca Valley Mon-Sat 9am-6:30pm •

38 The Sun Runner – June/July 2009

Through June 20 – Memorial Photography Show for Jerry de Guzman. Tumbleweed Art Gallery, 57490 29 Palms Hwy., Yucca Valley. (760)3650661. Through June 30 – Ric & Tim Vigallon Art. 3-D metal art sculptures. California Welcome Center, 56711 29 Palms Hwy., Yucca Valley. (760)3655464. Through June 30 – Photography by Jennifer Ruggiero. Twentynine Palms City Hall, 6136 Adobe Rd., 29 Palms. Through July 1 – Spirits of the Desert. Art by Muriel Mayah Martin & Marlana Moench. Crossroads Cafe, 61715 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. Through July 8 – Miles of Wonder Photography Exhibit. Work by David McChesney. Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center, 6554 Park Blvd., Joshua Tree. (760)367-5500. Through July 11 – Cheryl Kandel & Judy Wishart Art. Kandel’s colorful embroidered art mandalas, original acrylic paintings & giclees inspired by Joshua Tree National Park & Wishart’s colorful animal art. 29 Palms Inn, 73950 Inn Ave., 29 Palms. (760)367-3505, Throuugh August 30 – Summer Show. Artwork by members of the 29 Palms Artists Guild. 29 Palms Art Gallery, 74055 Cottonwood Dr., 29 Palms. (760)367-7819, June 5 – Twentynine Palms Street Fair & Car Show. 6-10 p.m. Classic cars, vendors, food, more. 29 Palms Hwy., downtown 29 Palms. (760)3673445, June 6 – High Desert Natural Health Fair. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Live healing music, organic/natural food & drink, guest speakers, mini-therapy sessions. Free. Town Center Mall, 29 Palms Hwy., Yucca Valley. June 6 – Pioneertown Posse Old West Re-enactments. 2:30 p.m. Old West entertainment Saturdays through October on Mane St. in front of Pioneertown Bowl, Pioneertown. June 6 – Art Reception for Young at Art. 4-7 p.m. Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council student art reception at 4 galleries in Joshua Tree: Art Queen, True World, Red Arrow, & Mt. Fuji. (760)366-2226, June 6 – Third Annual Cabot’s Birthday BBQ Bash. 6-10 p.m. $100. Benefits museum, honors Richard M. Milanovich and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, 67616 E. Desert View Ave., Desert Hot Springs. (760)329-7610, June 6 – Neil Derry Sings Sinatra. 5:30 p.m. San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry croons Frank Sinatra tunes at this benefit dinner for the Joshua Tree Chamber Beautification Project. Joshua Tree Retreat & Event Center, 59700 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)365-8371, June 6 – Ghost Tours. 8:30 p.m. Tours of actively haunted locations in the Barstow area on 4X4 Ghostly Educational Adventures. Benefits Desert Discovery Center. Tours also run June 13, 27. (760)881-9132, June 6 & 7 – Little Petroglyph Canyon Petroglyph Tours. Visit one of California’s premiere petroglyph sites. Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave., Ridgecrest. (760)375-6900, June 6 & 7 – Joshua Tree Arts Open Air Art Fair. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends. Lobbie Lou’s & Joshua Tree Arts, 61871 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)366-9820. June 7 – Art Reception: Jim Steinhoff, Penelope Krebs & David McChesney. 5-8 p.m. Show runs through July 31. Purple Agave Art Gallery at The Cactus Mart, 49889 29 Palms Hwy., Morongo Valley. (760)3636076, June 7 – Outdoor Show: Eagles of Death Metal. 8 p.m. Happy birthday Dave Catching! Pappy & Harriet’s, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)365-5956, June 8 – Outdoor show: Peaches with Drums of Death & Evil Beaver. 7 p.m. $20. Pappy & Harriet’s, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)365-5956, June 11 – Global Lens Film Series: Getting Home. 6 p.m. Free. Foreign

film series Thursday nights in Annenberg Theater. June 18: I Am From Tito Veles, June 25: Mutum. Museum admission also free on Thursday evenings during VillageFest. Palm SpringsArt Museum, 101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs. (760)322-4800, June 12 – Scorpions Exhibit Opening Reception. 4:30-6 p.m. Live scorpions on display, dark room illuminates how scorpions fluoresce under a black light, more. Exhibit runs through Aug. 12. Hi-Desert Nature Museum, 57090 29 Palms Hwy., Yucca Valley. (760)369-7212, June 12 – General Patton & the Desert. 7 p.m. $5. Lecture. Old Schoolhouse Museum, 6760 National Park Dr., 29 Palms. (760)367-5535. June 13 – Stop the Towers Hootenanny II. 4-8 p.m. Benefit for California Desert Coalition. Buffet dinner, silent auction, update on battle vs. Green Path North project. Pappy & Harriet’s, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. June 13 – Gemini Show: The Sibleys, Allison Stargazer, The Haflers. 8 p.m. Free. The Palms, 83131 Amboy Rd., Wonder Valley. (760)361-2180. June 19 & 20 – Jonas Nordwall in Concert at Scotty’s Castle. $30. Jonas Nordwall from the Oregon Symphony plays the famous Welte pipe organ at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley National Park. Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 5:30 & 7 p.m. Limited seating. Death Valley Natural History Assoc. (760)786-2146 x10 for reservations. For info on Scotty’s Castle: (760)786-2392, June 19-21 – Julian Gold Rush Days. Gold panning, living history demonstrations, gold mine tours, book signings, old fashioned games, historic skits, face painting, many family activities. June 20 – Kristina Quigley Benefit. 5 p.m. $20. The Princess of Pi-Town, Kristina Quigley-Ban, has been diagnosed with a rare medical condition. Benefit includes dinner, silent auction, live music, & more. Tickets available at Glen Realty, Windermere Real Estate, & Z-107 FM. For more info, Cynthia Kraemer: (760)365-1988, or Ann McErlane: (760)365-3328. Pappy & Harriet’s, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown. (760)365-5956, June 20 – Staged Reading of Swift Fox—The Conflicting Stories of Willie Boy. 7 p.m. Writer/director Ron House hosts reading of his play which will run this fall. Music by Jarrod Radnich & Craig Knudsen, art by Shirley James. Hi-Desert Cultural Center & Blak Box Theatre, 61231 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. (760)366-3777, June 20-Sept. 6 – Impressionist & Modern Masters: Nature & Light Exhibit. Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs. (760)325-7186, June 23-29 – 15th Annual Palm Springs International Short Film Festival & Film Market. 320+ films from 40+ countries, receptions, seminars, master classes, industry meetings, & more. Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Rd., Palm Springs. (760)322-2930, June 27 & 28 – National Amateur Radio Field Day in Joshua Tree. Noon. Morongo Basin Amateur Radio Club hosts displays & demonstrations. Joshua Tree Memorial Park, 60121 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree. JULY July 3 – Yucca Valley Poets Open Mic. 6 p.m. Barnes & Noble Westfield Center, 72840 Hwy. 111, Palm Desert. For July 3 & 4 Celebrations & Desert Fireworks, please visit the CDVA online calendar at

For the most comprehensive events listings for the California deserts, please visit the California Deserts Visitors Association Calendar, produced by The Sun Runner Magazine, at June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 39

Circle C Lodge

Private oasis offers 12 spacious guest rooms nestled in a lush garden courtyard with heated pool, spa, BBQ pit. Full kitchen, A/C, HBO, phones, continental breakfast. AAA, extended stay available. 6340 El Rey Ave., 29 Palms, CA (760)367-7615 • 800-545-9696

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites

Free Smart Start breakfast, free local calls, fast DSL Internet access, heated pool & spa, fitness center, business center. Andy Patel, General Manager. 71809 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)361-4009 • 1-800-HOLIDAY

29 Palms Inn

Fine food & lodging since 1928. Lunch, dinner, continental breakfast, Sunday brunch. Art-filled dining room, bar. Heated pool, poolside patio, adobe bungalows. “Oasis of Mara” and trails, near JT National Park headquarters and visitor center. Paul & Jane Smith, Innkeepers. 73950 Inn Ave., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3505

High Desert Motel

In the heart of Joshua Tree, a modern motel with spacious rooms, HBO/Cable TV, A/C, in-room phones, in-room coffee, laundry, swimming pool, picnic facilities, BBQ areas. Reasonable rates. Near west entrance to JT National Park and local rock climbing schools. Your host, Vijay Hira. 61310 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree, CA (760)366-1978 • Toll Free 888-367-3898


2 artist-owned cabins with boulder & panoramic desert views, minutes from Joshua Tree National Park, with all amenities, including wireless Internet. A favorite of musicians & artists, and dog friendly. 909-224-8626 or 760-366-1331

Find the best in desert lodging at and

40 The Sun Runner – June/July 2009

The best of the California deserts

Harmony Motel

Country Inn

Complimentary Continental Breakfast. Pillow top matresses. Business Center with fast DSL Internet Access, Data Port/Fast DSL Access in all rooms. FREE local calls. Outdoor pool, some Jacuzzi Rooms, Kitchenette Rooms. TV w/remote, iron, coffee maker, hair dryer, clock radio. Friendly, professional staff. 71829 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-0070 • (760)367-9806 Fax

Roughley Manor

Bed & Breakfast Inn. Gorgeous 1928 stone manor on 25-acre historic Campbell Ranch. Gardens, elegant guest rooms, fireplaces, grand piano in great room, fine linens, gourmet food, catered functions. 74744 Joe Davis Dr., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3238

EL RANCHO DOLORES MOTEL A respite for desert travelers since 1940, downtown 29 Palms. Swimming pool, courtyard, A/C, direct phones, satellite TV/HBO. Refrigerators/microwaves, kitchenettes available. Ken Patel, Manager. 73352 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3528

SUNNYVALE GARDEN SUITES Condo-like suites with a touch of the “old west.” Junior, 1 & 2 bedroom suites, full kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms, private patios w/barbecues, Cable TV, DVD, patio area, playground, spa and fitness center. Tony & Cora Naraval, owners. 73843 Sunnyvale Dr., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)361-3939

Pop legends U2 stayed at the Harmony, why not U too?

2005 newly remodeled rooms with TVs, kitchenettes, hot spas, swimming pool, break room, copier, fax and Internet service is free. Best value in town. 71161 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3351 •

Sunset Motel

At the foot of Joshua Tree National Park in downtown 29 Palms. Pool, direct phones, TV, HBO, refrigerators, complimentary coffee, full kitchens available. A/C. microwave oven. Friendly, European-style hospitality. Owner: Jan. 73842 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3484

96.3 FM June/July 2009 – The Sun Runner 41

Amargosa Opera House & Hotel

Historic Spanish Colonial style adobe hotel with Marta Becket murals, gift shop, AC. Reservations recommended. (760) 852-4441

Mark Speer Automotive 367-0222

Roy’s Tires

4082-B Adobe Rd. 29 Palms



55666 Yucca Trail, Yucca Valley


Your Local Lender Mary Jane Binge, Branch Manager

6528 Hillside Ave. 29 Palms, CA 92277

(760)367-3622 • FAX 367-2767 42 The Sun Runner – June/July 2009

Now you can reach 36,000 readers each issue with your ad in The Sun Runner Magazine (and reach even more online with our!)

Fine Food and Lodging at the Historic Oasis of Mara

Family Owned and Operated since 1928


(People have lived at this natural oasis for thousands of years.)

The Sun Runner

• Lunch, Dinner, Cocktails, Sunday Brunch • Charming Adobe Bungalows with Fireplaces • Heated Swimming Pool • Entertainment Friday and Saturday Nights • Available for Special Events • Tour our extensive fruit and vegetable garden and grape arbor. • See California Fan Palms, Oasis Lagoon, Barn Owls, Roadrunners, Gambel’s Quail, Bunnies and Jackrabbits and other delightful things!

73950 Inn Avenue, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 • 760-367-3505


PAID 29 Palms, CA 92277


June/July 2009 Issue of The Sun Runner Magazine  

June/July 2009 issue of The Sun Runner Magazine. Cover story: Are We Still Indians?

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