Traditional Fall Festival at the Nuui Cunni

Photos by Daniel Riley / Kern Valley Sun
Darrel Garcia, a Tubatulabal Shoshone Piutes tribal descendant, performed a traditional story dance (above photo.) Artist of the month tribal art featured in photo below. Descendants of the original inhabitants of the Kern River Valley and larger Kern County area gather at Nuui Cunni Native American Cultural Center for their fall festival which included food, music, art, and stories.(below.)

By: Daniel Riley
Special to the Sun

Nuui Cunni Native American Cultural Center, just off of highway 155 between Keysville turnoff and Wofford Heights, celebrated with their 2019 annual fall gathering on Saturday, November 16 to express and celebrate the history of the native tribes in the Kern Valley area. Peoples from all over the Kern Valley/Isabella Lake area came to join in the festivities and to celebrate and learn of the historical tools, stories and knowledge passed down through the generations of our local native tribes.

Set on the hill top behind the cultural center were a number of stands filled with native style crafts and wares for sale. Many different artifacts and art pieces as well as a replica black powder rifle up for auction. One stand even had a tool that was brought by Spanish conquistadors and adopted by the natives called the Indian drill with instructions on how to use it, such a simple item came in handy for small building projects and some of the finer arts such as making jewelry or clothing.

A common food that is made by many native families is fry bread which can be used in many variations of dishes, such as sandwiches, tostadas, tacos and even eaten plain with some jelly or honey. One of the attractions was Indian tacos, topped with beans, ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, cilantro and onions. One could say it was quite the delectable event.

Food, clothes and jewelry weren’t the only things that caught the eye. There was even a story dance that was performed by Tubatulabal Shoshone Piutes tribal descendant Darrel Garcia. His dance told stories of his family and the battles they go through. Darrel also took the chance to perform a dance of protection and good bringings for and with his newborn son.

One underlying fact about the dances and story telling from native tribes is that they are similar to instructions for fighting styles used by their ancestors. Darrel was taught by his father Raymond Garcia, who was also participating in the performances and a native defense informative presentation. This presentation included the use of several different tools, objects and weapons along with bare handed techniques on how to defend oneself.

There was much to learn and the joy of the people was shared immensely in depth. One could feel the tradition in the air, the spirit of the wind and the warmth of the sun bringing the people together. An event one would definitely want to go to again year after year to support the Nuui Cunni Native American Cultural Center.