Fall 2017 Newsletter
MY EXPERIENCE OF THE AMLT COASTAL STEWARDSHIP SUMMER CAMP
Text and graphics courtesy Alexis Moreno, 16, Amah Mutsun Tribal Band member and UwiSmak singer
The Amah Mutsun Land Trust implemented its first ever coastal stewardship summer camp for Native American youth in July, 2017. The camp brought tribal youth, and their families, to the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band’s coastal territory near Año Nuevo for two weeks of cultural learning, coastal stewardship, and lots of fun. The California State Coastal Conservancy Explore the Coast grant program supported this unique experience.
My experience at the AMLT Coastal Stewardship Summer Camp at Costanoa Lodge will be one to remember. I was fortunate to participate in such a fascinating experience that will always be with me in the future. It was a great opportunity to meet each and every one of my cousins that live throughout California individually. We learned about our ancestors, cultural activities, sacred places, sacred songs and ethnobotany. Some of the cultural activities we did included making medicine bags, pendant necklaces, and clapper sticks. We had talking circles at the end of every day, and those were the most important parts to me. All the activities we did, we did together, and it meant a lot to me to experience working with others in a team.
To me, making medicine bags is holding something that is important to you in your medicine bag and keeping it close to your heart. I learned that your first medicine bag and first pendant necklace is to be given away to someone who you care about dearly. I made my very first clapper stick at the youth camp, and it was a great experience to learn the meaning behind the clapper stick and why it’s a big part of our tribe. One sacred song that we learned was the “Lo Le” song. This song is a women’s dance song that only the women dance to. We learned about a lot of plants and their uses through the knowledge of our culture. All of the plants were native plants; three that I cherish are blue elderberry, California buckeye, and checker lily. Blue elderberry is used for clapper sticks, and usually clapper sticks are for the elders. However, I have a clapper stick because I am a member of UwiSmak, the Mutsun women and children’s traditional singing group.
I made the connection with cousins that sing in the UwiSmak singing group at summer camp, and became one myself. I’m becoming well-educated about our sacred songs and the background behind them. Being closer to my tribe and picking up knowledge is what is most important to me. We should be able to pass down our wisdom generation to generation. I learned a lot during the Youth Camp and I’ll certainly be there for next year. Our knowledge is the paramount of our tribe. Creator specifically preferred our people to visit these sacred places. Creator gave us the obligation to take care of Mother Earth and living things. I’ve learned that the youth are important because we are the next step that leads to success. I will always cherish learning these cultural ways, so my experience at the Amah Mutsun Youth Camp as a youth will always be one to remember.