Photo by Kris Hohag, Instructor.

California

Indigenous Sovereignty in the Sacred Valley of Payahuunadü

A 12 Day Program for Dragons & Nüümü (Paiute) Students

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Duration
12 Days
Description

Explore the sacred valley of Payahuunadu, home of the Nüümü people, a Native American Nation also known as Paiute. Dragons students and local Nüümü youth learn together about Indigenous work to regain sovereignty over food, land, and water, while connecting with local traditions, mountains, and deserts.

Dates

Jul 30 - Aug 10, 2020


Suggested Ages

18-24

Number of Participants

12


Availability

Open

Begins In

17 Weeks

Land Cost

$3,500


Estimated Flight Cost

N/A

Bishop, California

Program Overview

We greet the sun coming over the far rim of the valley


…What the Nüümü call “the place of flowing water,” or Payahuunadü, the eastern slope of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. Dragons students and leaders gather with Nüümü leaders, elders and youth to deepen our care for Mother Earth, which Nüümü elders teach us is our human responsibility. We explore contemporary topics related to Indigenous sovereignty over land, water, and food, ongoing struggles, and the impacts of climate change. Together, we learn to listen to the stories of Indigenous people in North America.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gain a set of tools for solidarity, allyship, and mutual aid by engaging with history and culture. Build your capacities as an advocate or ally for the earth and for Indigenous rights.
  • Experience how Indigenous lives and stories are entwined with the rivers, valleys, deserts, and mountains of California’s eastern Sierra.
  • Deepen your understanding of settler colonialism as a political…

…What the Nüümü call “the place of flowing water,” or Payahuunadü, the eastern slope of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. Dragons students and leaders gather with Nüümü leaders, elders and youth to deepen our care for Mother Earth, which Nüümü elders teach us is our human responsibility. We explore contemporary topics related to Indigenous sovereignty over land, water, and food, ongoing struggles, and the impacts of climate change. Together, we learn to listen to the stories of Indigenous people in North America.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gain a set of tools for solidarity, allyship, and mutual aid by engaging with history and culture. Build your capacities as an advocate or ally for the earth and for Indigenous rights.
  • Experience how Indigenous lives and stories are entwined with the rivers, valleys, deserts, and mountains of California’s eastern Sierra.
  • Deepen your understanding of settler colonialism as a political reality, and learn about contemporary Indigenous struggles around land, water, and food sovereignty.

We begin our journey at Dragons’ favorite campground, where staff and instructors train every June for our summer programs. In this place, Nüümü communities have lived and gathered tuba, piñon pine nuts, for thousands of years. We begin building our group culture as a collection of Dragons students, instructors, and Nüümü youth, introducing ourselves to the land, and to the Nüümü leaders who join us for our orientation. We share meals, build relationships, and stargaze around the campfire in the evenings. We learn basic Nüümü Yodaha, the local Indigenous language, and learn how to be in good relationship with place and people in the context of Nüümü life. We consider broad themes related to Indigenous sovereignty and social justice on this continent–called Turtle Island by many Indigenous Nations–and learn about ongoing community initiatives.

Joining the Bishop Paiute Youth Council, we travel to greet Nüümü community members who will be completing a ceremonial walk through Yosemite Valley, also called Ahwahnee. Following our time on the land in Yosemite, we transition to connect with Nüümü communities and projects on the Bishop Paiute Reservation in Bishop, California. At camp and on the reservation, we listen deeply to Nüümü elders’ stories about their lives, walking the land to learn with our bodies. We engage with the work of the Bishop Paiute Food Sovereignty Program, as well as learning from the Owens Valley Water Commission and the Tribal Environmental Department about Indigenous stewardship, water and land management in Payahuunadü. We gather daily for continued language instruction, and participants are paired with families for small group lunches. We learn traditional craft methods, and offer volunteer support at the Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center. Our learning service project focuses on a collaborative community art project guided by the Youth Council.

We wrap up our time together with a long day hike in Nevada’s White Mountains, making space for reflection on our experiences. With a celebratory dinner, we’ll prepare for transitions to home spaces, both in Payahuunadü for Nüümü youth and elsewhere for others, creating possibilities for how to carry forward the connections we’ve built.

This is a non-profit engagement. All proceeds will directly support Nüümü youth gaining access to a WTBD global education.

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Meet your Educators

Kris Hohag

Kris Hohag is an educator, artist and native of the Owens Valley. Raised in Bishop as a citizen of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, Kris received his Bachelors degree in Sociology from the University of California, Irvine and his Master’s in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Washington. His work has focused on language revitalization, youth leadership development, outdoor education and building bridges between diverse cultures to unite over our common love of water and land.

A University and Rez-educated scholar and organizer, he initially built a solid reputation by working as a teacher in local schools and mentoring at-risk youth in Southern California, the Pacific Northwest and the Eastern Sierra. Over time and by example, he has proven to be an influential community voice while honing his chops as an entrepreneur and artist.

Kris has worked with every tribal organization on his reservation serving Indian people across such central topics as education, economic development, language and culture, healthcare, and governance. He served a two year term on the Bishop Paiute Tribal Council, acting as Vice Chairman during 2014-2015. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the local clinic in his community, Toiyabe Indian Health Project, as well as a rep for the statewide California Rural Indian Health Board.

Several key projects he spearheaded or played a vital role in locally include the Bishop Tribal Youth Council; the Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Community Radio Station: KBPT 96.1 LPFM; the Eastern Sierra Writing Circle and Collective Language, a youth-oriented, monthly open mic and live show to build community and showcase local talent at the Wunut Novi Youth Media Arts Center.

He is a founding member of the Payahuunadu Alliance, a grassroots family of stewards comprised of diverse voices united around a great love for the lands east of the Sierras known as Payahuunadu.

 

Kinsinta Joseph

Kinsinta Joseph is the daughter of Patricia and Tom Joseph who met during the Klamath River Fish Wars of the late 1970’s. Her mother is Hupa (Na:tinixwe’) and Karuk from the Klamath and Trinity Rivers in Northern California. Her father is Nuumu and Newe from Pa’ha Gwae, the southern part of Payahuunadü (Owens Valley, CA). As a youth, she traveled across Native country with her parents and nine siblings, learning the importance of nation building. She grew up participating in social justice movements, spending much time at the state capitol trying to persuade the Governor’s office to restore the rivers, advocating humane policies towards our immigrant relatives and helping raise awareness of police brutality. Her family founded California Kitchen at Standing Rock, a movement to bring attention to the destruction that fossil fuels is admitting to the Earth. California Kitchen was organized to feed and house people through the cold winter. Kinsinta is the founder of PayaHupaWay, a Native Jewelry brand focusing on cultural activities such as gathering basket materials, reminding us of our connection to help restore the land. Payahupaway promotes a lifestyle grounded in songs and prayers that is reflective of her ancestral teachings. Kinsinta most importantly is a mother and a partner to a Nuumü man. They have been working on curriculum that prioritizes Nuumu Yadoha (Paiute Language) and Traditional Ecological Knowledge so that their daughter and future generations of Nuumü Youth have the opportunity to learn what is relevant to them, the community, and the Land. She is a founding member of the Payahuunadü Alliance, an indigenous-led grassroots team of stewards united around a great love for Payahuunadü.

Charis Boke

B.A. English, Mills College; M.A. Social Sciences, University of Chicago; Ph.D. Anthropology, Cornell University

Charis teaches with Dragons in Nepal and on Turtle Island (North America). In 2018, she completed her doctorate in cultural anthropology at Cornell University, where she studied, learned with, and wrote about herbalists, healers, and community organizers in the United States through an ethnographic lens. Her previous research as a student and Fulbright fellow in Nepal, between 2005 and 2009, focused on swayambhu or uTpati, self-arisen goddess worship sites. As an anthropologist, an herbalist, and a community organizer, Charis identifies as a scholar-practitioner, bringing these multiple perspectives on social justice and healing into her work as an educator. She draws on her background as an anthropologist of medicine, then environment, healing, and religion, and as a Buddhist practitioner whose attention to the world is shaped by the numinous and inexplicable. She seeks and makes magic alone and with groups, in the mountains and the deserts, always learning to listen better to what the earth has to say, a set of practices that she strives to share with others.

She is also informed, in teaching and in life, by her long-term commitment to building socially and environmentally just relations. In that mode, she teaches as an “act of radical love,” to borrow bell hooks’ excellent phrase, seeking to guide students toward their own truest life-path through intellectual engagement and direct experience together. The broad goal of her work in and out of learning spaces is to provide people not only with historical and cultural frameworks to understand situations or places, but also with the relevant tools, experiences, and relationships to engage more deeply with the world we live in and all its challenges. She has deep roots in community organizing and activism, and sees her work as a mode of discovery not just about what our world contains, but about how to make it better

Program Components

4/5
Comparative Religion

Grounding in Nüümü Indigenous worldview, relations among humans, and relations with the earth

3/5
Day Hiking

Day trips to Yosemite Valley; day hikes from high-altitude desert camp.

5/5
Development Studies

Impacts of historical and contemporary United States governance policies on California Indigenous communities; environmental justice studies on the ground; Indigenous power and sovereignty.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Indigenous sovereignty and cultural survival in the context of climate change and contemporary politics.

2/5
Homestay

Innovative “lunch-stays” connects participants with families each day.

3/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Opportunities to explore specific historical and contemporary issues around land rights, water sovereignty and privatization, food justice, environmental justice, medicinal plants, and traditional crafts.

3/5
Language Study

4 days of basic Nüümü Yodaha, with opportunities for continued practice.

4/5
Learning Service

Cook and offer a meal to Miwok and Paiute (Nüümü) walkers at the end of their Yosemite sovereignty walk; support the Bishop Paiute Cultural Center on needed projects; design and implement a community arts project with the Bishop Paiute Youth Council; engage deeply with the question of what it means to be “in service.”

2/5
Rugged Travel

Small van travel; desert camping.