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).