Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tomo-Kahni ~ A Hidden Gem In Our Canyon

became a State Registered Historical Landmark on August 1, 2014 and a ceremony, revealing the plaque below, was held in the square of our town this past Saturday. 

Tomo-Kahni is an ancient site in our canyon, where members of the Kawaiisu Indian tribe would come together to spend the winter. Several of my friends in the canyon serve as volunteers in support of this historic site. I haven't visited Tomo-Kahni myself. You have to hike in with a group led by trained docents. Maybe some day, if I get in shape. Some cool day......

The Kawaiisu, also called the Nuwa or Nuooah people are believed to have lived in the Tehachapi area for 1500 years. Petroglyphs, probably pre-dating the Kawaiisu, as well as Kawaiisu art, can be found at the Tomo-Kahni site. 

The People, as they called themselves, were hunter/gatherers, using some 250 plants for food, medicine, structures, and so on.  Today, they are celebrated for their beautiful baskets. A woman in my knitting group recently published a book called The Butterfly Basket, a children's book that takes place in our canyon. I understand that it's a book for any age and I plan to read it soon. A stunningly beautiful butterfly basket actually exists and was recently pictured with the author in our local paper.  

I bought a booklet, published by California State Parks, where I learned more about the Kawaiisu. 

They were closely connected to nature with Bear and Rattlesnake protecting their caves. A few of their stories, as I'm now imagining them being told around camp fires, are shared in the booklet:  

Mountain Lion and Coyote were prominent figures in their lives and stories. Unlike other Indian stories of Coyote as the trickster-hero, he is more human in the stories told by the Kawaiisu. Unfortunately, Coyote's ideas are often ineffective, whereas Mountain Lion always gets it right. I'm sure these stories were based on observations in nature, where I imagine Mountain Lion would be the one to get it right.

The booth for our district. 

A close-up of some of the items on display in the booth. The little white knitted or crocheted rabbit was made by a woman in our knitting group and the book: The Butterfly Basket, by C. A. Waldman, is also on display. 

After a nice chat with this young man, I asked if I could take his picture. He said yes and posed for me, but since I didn't tell him I intended to post it on my blog, I'm leaving him small. Too bad, those uniforms are really cool.  Of course, you can always click on him, to see it better.

I left the event as heavenly smells began to rise from the various barbecue pits around the square. I'm sure everyone there enjoyed the food, the day, and took pride in the dedication of Tomo-Kahni as State Registered Historical Landmark, No. 1054. 

On my way back to the Jeep, I passed this mural of a Kawaiisu village. I thought about these people, so different from us who live here now. I thought about their respect for nature, for the wild animals that shared it with them, their knowledge of plants, their beautiful baskets. How they would come back to our, well, their canyon, as winter approached to build their Tomo (winter) Kahni (house). 


  1. Looks like a great way to spend a day! I love learning about the history of where I live, no history of Kawaiisu where I'm from though, just lots of old fishermen and sailors! Enjoy the rest of your day!

  2. what a beautiful mural! i'm glad their way of life is being remembered.

  3. How very interesting. Thank you for sharing!

  4. That's lovely, Inger. I would like to go there, but I'm no hiker. Walking around the neighborhood park with Franklin is enough for me.


  5. It so nice that the Kawaiisu are being remembered and honoured in this way. I bet they had a better way of respecting Mother Nature than we do.

    Thanks for sharing some of your Canyon native stories with us.

    The mural is beautiful.


  6. This is something I would have attended myself. That is a gorgeous mural!

  7. I love the mural--I wish I could have gone with you!!

  8. You saw historical happening( I am translating this from Hindi) so don't mind my expression. that is day well spent. How wonderful. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

  9. I've been reading about the Anasazi for years, and have visited a lot of their sites in New Mexico. I hadn't heard about this tribe, though. That park looks like a fun place to visit.

  10. How great to have such a historical site close by. I like to have culture to investigate. Those baskets must be so special.

  11. How lovely to see history being honoured!

  12. Hi Inger - what a great post and I'm so pleased you were able to get down to town to see the Opening and Celebration of all things Kawaiisu.

    I bet those Petroglyphs are really special to look at ... I saw some in Namibia ... but I couldn't hike now.

    I'd love to see the Butterfly Basket - while the book sounds amazing - introducing youngsters and us to the different cultures and how they each adapt and learn.

    Cheers and thanks for showing us so many photos .. while their use of plants and love of their land ... we really should emulate today .. Great post with some insightful thoughts - Hilary

  13. Oh how interesting Inger - I've never heard of the Kawaiisu tribe ... I've always been fascinated by the stories of the Native Americans and someday I'd love to visit a site such as this. They had such a wonderful respect for the land.
    The mural is wonderful- thanks for sharing.

  14. that last shot shows just how a winter village looked and why it was called that. very interesting and if i were able to hike i would love it.

  15. They truly were 'one with nature'. How we have lost our way.
    This was very interesting and informative, Inger. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Just amazing post, Inger, with great pictures!
    Thanks for sharing this interesting information of Kawaiisu Indian tribe.
    The mural is beautiful too.
    And the book "The Butterfly Basket" sounds very interesting.

  17. How wonderful that part of their culture is being preserved. I would love to see the Petroglyphs. I get goosebumps around things even just a few hundred years old.
    Sometimes I think I was born way too late.

  18. I really enjoyed reading this post and looking at your great pictures. I did not know about this ancient people and am pleased to have learnt about them. I love the mural too.

  19. Interesting post, Inger. Ah... if I were 20 years younger, I would love to take that hike! Maybe with that good looking young man. (haha)
    They really did that day up neat - you didn't stay for BBQ? Hmm... guess I am hungry.

  20. Hibbs wishes he could have gone with you, though he is not keen on rattlesnakes!

    You live is such a fascinating area. Stay well, Roland

  21. This is such wonderful news, Inger. I am surprised I didn't know a little something about it because I am a member of The Native Sons of the Golden West, and I see that this organization had a hand in the designation. I hope sometime I can visit this special place. Very exciting!


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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