California State Indian Museum

In the shadow of Sutter’s Fort sits the small but lovely California State Indian Museum.  The museum was created in 1940 and tells the story of many of the Indian tribes of California.  It highlights more than 60 indigenous groups who lived in our great state long before Mr. Sutter brought his Fort to the area and long before the Gold Rush encouraged waves of people to come out West.

Highlights of the museum are an impressive grouping of baskets, an 18 foot Yurok Redwood Canoe, a large number of beautiful photographs of Indigenous peoples in native outfits during dances or traditional activities, and detailed handmade clothing.

The relationship between California and the local Indian tribes has been a complicated one over time.  Disease brought by Europeans, forced movement, slaughter, and destruction of the local environment have changed the face of indigenous people forever.  This museum tells the story of California Indian heritage through physical items, clothing, photographs, landscaping, local events, and music and dance. It is a lovely reminder of the pride and history of the first Californians.  I only wish the museum were bigger and housed even more beautiful artifacts because I know there is much more to see.

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Rattlesnake!

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Take note of the feathers weaved in to the spectacular smaller baskets.

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This thing is HUGE and must weigh an enormous amount.

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Not sure what these berries are. I can’t say I ever remember seeing them in the area but they were beautiful.

Sutter’s Fort – Sacramento, California

The little one and I got out of the house recently and visited the Sacramento landmark of Sutter’s Fort.  This adobe fort was built in 1840, early in Sacramento’s history, for the purposes of trade by John Sutter with the coerced permission of the local Nisenan Indians and randomly with the help of Hawaiian laborers.  Sutter was granted Mexican citizenship in 1840 and the Land Grant for the area in exchange for keeping local Indian tribes “in order.” It was closed shortly after gold was discovered in Coloma sparking the 49r Gold Rush.

The fort has been lovingly restored and the California State Parks service does a great job displaying the period with detailed rooms depicting each of the trades and functions of the fort; Carpenter shop, Millstone, Gunsmith, Blacksmith, Guard Room, Kitchen, Bakery, and Weaving Rooms. The Fort sits on a beautifully maintained garden neighboring the California State Indian Museum.

It has always amazed me that my fellow Sacramentans restored, saved, and preserved this special spot because it is surrounded by period houses, hospital high rises, vibrant bars, all in the heart of downtown Sacramento. It is prime real estate as they say.

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Local Girl Scout Groups dress up in period costume for their visit. (I remember doing that not so many years ago!)