Maidu Museum welcomes spring, with celebration

Also hosts classes, kids camps, exhibits, campfire during April
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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For the Maidu, sustainability was not a social mindset but a way of life.

These native people didn’t take all the fish in the stream, leaving the healthiest ones to reproduce. They burned grass to encourage growth, which left more food for female deer to increase this animal’s population.

“They took a little from the land and lived off it the rest of their lives,” said Rick Adams, a Nisenan tribal elder and cultural heritage specialist for the Maidu Museum and Historic Site in Roseville.

Some American Indians continue to celebrate spring’s arrival and corresponding leafing out of oak trees and blossoming flowers. They perform dances to honor the earth.

The Maidu Museum hosts its 10th annual Yomen: A Spring Celebration Sunday, April 17. Yomen represents the month of flowers. The free event features native dancers, cultural-skills demonstrations, basket making, crafts fair, trail tours, ethnobotany and medical plant walks, storytelling, children’s activities, art and food.

More than 2,800 people attended last year’s event.

“We have so many people here and to share what (the museum) has with demonstrations and crafts — it’s the best day of the year,” said cultural heritage specialist Chuck Kritzon.

April is a busy month for the museum, which also hosts classes, spring break camps for kids, a 3rd Saturday art walk and other special events.

On Friday, April 15, attendees can enjoy an evening of native stories, songs and roasted marshmallows under the stars during the monthly campfire, which runs through October.

The museum’s current special exhibit, “Our Precious Legacy: Mountain Maidu Baskets from the Meadows-Baker Families,” showcases three generations of weavers, their baskets, their lives and artistry of their creations. The show runs through July 31.

People interested in exploring Maidu culture can attend one of the museum’s classes, which address how tribes used animal, plant and other natural resources to create tools, clothing, food, medicine, baskets and weapons.

Kritzon said theses classes have generated increased interest lately, which he attributes to people wanting to learn more about self-sufficiency, eco-friendly practices and cultures here before the arrival of white colonizers.

Kritzon has been involved with the material culture of Native Californians for the past 20 years. He has mastered such skills as making tools from bones and flint-knapping.

“It gives me an understanding and respect for how natives did things in the past,” he said.

During classes and outreach programs at area schools, Kritzon offers the nuts and bolts of the Maidu culture, while Adams provides the oral history.

“It’s the same message but in a different way,” Kritzon said. “We both love what we do.”

Adams began telling stories when he was 7 years old. He grew up immersed in Maidu culture and the language was part of his daily life. Growing up, he experienced an outside society that regarded American Indians and their history in a derogatory and disrespectful way, he said.

But a change has since occurred. Children and adults nowadays seem eager for an accurate and respectful portrayal of Native American history through native eyes, Adams said.

“They see that how history paints people is not necessarily the way it is,” he said.

Through events such as Yomen: A Spring Celebration, the Maidu Museum hopes to paint an authentic picture that recognizes the traditions and achievements of native people.

Sena Christian can be reached at


Maidu Museum & Historic Site

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 6-9 p.m. on 3rd Saturday art walk. Guided tours of historic site 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturdays

Where: 1970 Johnson Ranch Dr. in Roseville

Cost: $4.50 adult, $4 child or senior, $16 for family of four. Weekday discount from 2-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, $2 per person. Free for art walk

Info: Call (916) 774-5934 or visit


Special event
Yomen: A Spring Celebration
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 17
Cost: Free

Family activity
Fabulous Campfires
7:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, April 15
Cost: $5 per person or $16 for family of four
Info: Enjoy an evening with family and friends around a campfire. Listen to native stories and songs under the stars and roast marshmallows. No reservations required. Children 10 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Adult activity
Night Out at the Museum
6:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16
Cost: Free
Info: Enjoy an evening at the museum with cultural heritage exhibits and contemporary art gallery as part of Roseville’s 3rd Saturday art walk. Sierra Native Alliance and the museum presents a Native Youth Art Show. See the alliance’s youth group mural and sculpture installation projects, artist performances and presentations.

Kids camps
Become a CSI: Critter Scene Investigator
9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday, April 18 to Friday, April 22
Cost: $119 or $109 for Roseville residents
Info: Do you love solving mysteries? Learn how to find clues to help you discover which animals live in our area and what they’re up to. Intended for kids ages 7 to 9. Pre-registration required. Call (916) 774-5934.

Archery Camp
1-3 p.m. Monday, April 18 to Friday, April 22
Cost: $119 or $109 for Roseville residents
Info: Learn archery basics — how to aim, focus and shoot — and play archery games, by learning this skill utilized by Native Americans. All equipment provided. Taught by certified archers on indoor archery range. Intended for kids ages 9 to 16. Pre-registration required. Call (916) 774-5934.

Gifts From the Animal People
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 9
Cost: $28, plus $5 material fee due at class
Info: Learn how Maidu people used and traded animal resources to create a rich and abundant culture. Using stone tools, you will create your own bone whistle the last hour of class. For ages 16 and older.

Gifts From the Plant People
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 16
Cost: $28, plus $5 material fee due at class
Info: Learn how the Maidu made use of and increased local plant resources for food, medicine, basketry, hunting and more. Make a double cane dance whistle at the end of class. For ages 16 and older.

Gifts From the Stone People
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 30
Cost: $28, plus $5 material fee due at class
Info: Learn how the Maidu people created tools, weapons, art and ceremonial items from mineral wealth. A demo of arrowhead knapping is included. The last hour participants will create soapstone beads and pendants using stone tools. For ages 16 and older.