Aug 192013

Exploring Maidu Culture - Sunshine Kids California Blog Hop -

© Justin Smith / Wikimedia Commons, CC-By-SA-3.0

This post is part of the Sunshine Kids California Blog Hop.  See below for details and more kid-friendly California posts!

When most people think of Native Americans, their image is of the Plains peoples depicted in Western art and movies.  Yet the indigenous peoples of North America are quite diverse, from the farming communities of the East Coast and the buffalo hunters of the Great Plains to the small bands in the West and all the variations in between.

The Monkeys and I recently visited the Maidu Museum and Historic Site in Roseville, California, with MuM, our local multicultural moms group.  I was eager for my two California babies to begin to appreciate the culture and history of the indigenous peoples in our area.

The Maidu Museum and Historic Site opened in 2010 to share the culture and history of the Maidu people, who inhabited a large area in Northern California stretching from the Sacramento Valley into the Sierra foothills.

It is an elegant little museum, built next to an ancient Nisenan Maidu village.  Visitors can see the village site as well as petroglyphs and other cultural features along the easy half-mile trail outside the museum.

Exploring Maidu Culture - Sunshine Kids California Blog Hop -

Maidu hut recreation – Maidu Interpretive Center. © Justin Smith / Wikimedia Commons, CC-By-SA-3.0

The museum offers a wealth of well-designed displays, including many hands-on features good for little ones.  Monkey and his friends had fun making pencil rubbings of recreated petroglyphs and putting together a puzzle of a village scene.  There was even a simulated campfire, where you can listen to a recording of a Maidu storyteller.  (The museum also hosts real campfires in their outdoor amphitheater where you can sit under the stars and listen to stories from a local Elder!)

My favorite museum display was a panel where you could hear different words spoken in several of the Maidu languages.

Exploring Maidu Culture - Sunshine Kids California Blog Hop -

Calif Maiduan Languages map, Wikimedia Commons

I also appreciated the emphasis not only on Maidu heritage but also on the Maidu people today.  Too often Native Americans are treated as part of the past, instead of modern people living in today’s society.  This museum, however, includes displays on present Maidu culture, including two galleries of contemporary art.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, today there are an estimated 4,000 people of Maidu descent.  While a number of the Maidu tribes are federally recognized, many are not; several of these are now fighting to protect their heritage, including battling against threats to historic sites.

Resources on Maidu Culture

Below are resources you can use to explore Maidu culture with your family.  Most of these are geared towards school age children or older:

The Maidu are included in several general works on native peoples of California, such as California Indians by C. L. Keyworth.  They are also part of a wonderful series of books on the tribes of California put together by a former teacher, Mary Null Boulé, to fill the gap she saw in well-researched material for elementary school children.

I was especially pleased to find the book Ooti: A Child of the Nisenan at our local library.  This gem of a book is a local publication, put out by the American River Natural History Association.  It includes a story, games, and crafts for children.

The Maidu Museum also has a wonderful resources page.  In addition, you can find information on the homepages of the Maidu tribes, such as this one from the Konkow Valley Band of Maidu.

For information specifically related to Maidu language, I recommend this page from the Linguistics Department at the University of California at Berkeley.

What cultures have you explored with your children lately?

Sunshine Kids California Blog Hop

Sunshine Kids California Blog HopThe Sunshine Kids California Blog Hop celebrates all that is wonderful about raising kids in the Golden State.

Link up your kid-centered posts about California: places to visit, books to read, crafts to create, recipes to try, and so on.

The blog hop will run from August 19 to September 2.

Thanks to Akane of Juggling With Kids for the beautiful photo!

You can also check out even more California posts on our collaborative Kid Friendly California Pinterest board!

Be sure to check out our upcoming project, Exploring the California Missions!






Participating Blogs:

All Done Monkey - Raising little global citizens.
Kids Yoga Stories The Silly Pearl
The Art Pantry 2KuriousKids
A Mom With a Lesson Plan
Adventure Bee
Juggling With Kids
Little Hiccups
Slow Family The Good Long Road Adventures in Wunderland

Link up your kid-centered California posts below!


  12 Responses to “Native California: Exploring Maidu Culture {Sunshine Kids California Blog Hop}”

  1. What a great outing – I hope you can go back for the story-telling under the stars. That sounds incredible!

    • Yes, I am really looking forward to it! I think we missed the last one of the season, but I am marking my calendar for when they start up again in the spring!

  2. It’s so awesome when the book ties so well with the museum visit. We haven’t really looked into the history of California native people yet, I’ll keep this museum in mind!

    • Yes, I was really excited to find that book, since as you can imagine there aren’t many story books about the Maidu out there!

  3. Great post! It sounds like a fantastic experience.

  4. My family loves exploring Native American life and culture. I did not know about the Maidu Museum and site. Thanks so much for the great photos and resources.

  5. Next time we are in Northern California we will have to do some Maidu learning activities! I also have to say that I am completely jealous that you have a MUM group!! Brainstorming on how I might be able to start one…

    • Yes, I feel so lucky to have the MUM group! They are a big source of support, plus just a lot of fun! One mom had the idea to start it, and she told several of us that she already knew from another mom’s group. Then we each told our friends, who told their friends, etc. And having it on meetup helps a lot, so you can find interested people who are also looking for this kind of group.

  6. […] with kids!  Be sure to link up your family-friendly California posts below, and visit my post on Native California from last year’s blog […]

  7. […] Nisenan Maidu village – “Visitors can see the village site as well as petroglyphs and other cultural features along the easy half-mile trail outside the museum.” […]

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