Special programing at Menlo Park Library for Native American Heritage Month

by Contributed Content on November 4, 2023

In observance of this year’s Native American Heritage Month during November, the Menlo Park Library is sharing a wide variety of experiences including a photography exhibition, author events, storytelling, live music, hands-on art, and even a virtual cooking lesson.

The traveling exhibition now on display at the Main Library through December 3 is She Sang Me a Good Luck Song: The California Indian Photographs of Dugan Aguilar. Aguilar (Mountain Maidu/Pit River/Walker River Paiute), a documentary photographer, portrayed California Native people and cultures for over 40 years, capturing contemporary Native life in all of its richness and vibrancy. The exhibition is a partnership with Exhibit Envoy, Heyday Books, and the Native Fund, curator Theresa Harlan, and artist Dugan Aguilar.

A pair of live virtual events with middle grade author Christine Day (Upper Skagit) on November 6 are timed so that local schools may tune in to meet the writer. An event held in partnership with Menlo Park’s fellow Peninsula Library System libraries across San Mateo County in honor of United Against Hate Week, Day’s appearance focuses on her book We Still Belong, about a young protagonist who feels she is “not Native enough.”

The November 8 performance by Tina Henson (Spirit Lake Dakota & Lakota from Rosebud) is also a part of the library’s 8th Annual Storytelling Festival. Henson, who will be sharing Native American Stories and Legends, is the Program Coordinator for the Tri-Valley Native American Center, providing support to about 250 Native American students attending kindergarten through high school in Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton, and Castro Valley.

The will be blues with a Native beat November 18 at the Belle Haven Branch Library, as Twice As Good – 2XG, “The Son & Father, Native American, Ultimate Blues Duo,” return to Menlo Park. The duo comprises Paul and Rich Steward, both born on the Pomo Indian lands of the Elem Indian Colony reservation in Lake County, who have toured internationally and recorded multiple award-winning albums.

Library visitors will be able to go home with their own corn husk dolls on November  21, following a crafting workshop with teaching artist Alica Mary Retes (part Mayo and Yaqui), the former education director for the Museum of the American Indian in Novato. Retes, also a professional storyteller, will share information and a folktale about Native companion planting techniques.

A presentation on Native American Cultural Impact on the United States will be given on November 29 by Robert Keith Collins, Ph.D., a four-field trained anthropologist and Associate Professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University. Colllins, who is of African-Choctaw descent, will talk about the Native American impacts on the language, lifeways and subsistence strategies practiced in the U.S.

The final program in this series will be a hands-on cooking program on November 30 that participants will be able to enjoy from their own home kitchens. Bay Area food writer and editor Sara Calvosa Olson (Karuk) is author of the new cookbook Chími Nu’am: Native California Foodways for the Contemporary Kitchen, and she will teach viewers about California’s Indigenous cuisines as she guides them in the preparation of a salad inspired by Native planting strategies.

The entire program series is free to the public, and received partial funding support from the Friends of the Menlo Park Library.  Times, locations, and details are available at this website.

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