Museum brings Maidu history to life

By: Megan Wood The Press Tribune
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Before steam engines and calls of ‘all aboard,’ Roseville was home to the Maidu Indians. For more than 4,000 years, the Maidu occupied Roseville and established a unique lifestyle that is on display at the newly re-opened Maidu Museum. The museum recently moved into a 7,200 square-foot roundhouse, a building modeled after the traditional Native American ceremonial meeting place. Inside, guests have the opportunity to envision day-to-day life for the Maidu people through interactive exhibits that share details of cooking, medicine and arts and crafts through Native American relics and artifacts. “The Maidu were a very well established and rich tribe,” said Rick Adams, a Nisenan Maidu Indian who trains the docents at the Maidu museum. “We were known for our elaborate basket weaving, and our powerful bows.” A large rock sculpture invites younger guests to make their own petroglyph rubbings and has carvings resembling actual petroglyphs that can be found on the surrounding tribal land that the museum sits on. The museum also shares the history of the Maidu Indians and their struggle to preserve their culture and way of life after white settlers invaded tribal land, forcing natives to relocate or assimilate to European culture. Videos and interactive maps show the Maidu’s disappearance from the Sacramento region and the hardships faced along the way. “Children were taken from their families and forced into boarding schools or the military,” Adams said. “It has been very difficult for the Maidu to recapture their culture, which is why it is so important to keep it alive and share it in the museum.” A new feature of the museum is a guided cell phone tour that, besides the use of minutes, is free for guests to use. “It’s a wonderful new feature that a lot of our guests have really enjoyed,” said Sara Ebi, a volunteer at the Maidu museum. Several of the exhibits feature a small placard with a phone number and exhibit number that, when entered, provide an in-depth look at the Maidu history and lifestyle. Jennifer Flores, troop leader for Girl Scout Troop No. 2077, thought the museum would be a great opportunity for her troop of Daisies to learn about Native American daily life. The troop is gearing up for a big family campout at Indian Grinding Stone State Historic Park this spring where they will camp in bark tents and explore the site’s extensive bedrock mortar collection. “I hope the girls got a glimpse of what living from nature and the land around them is like,” Flores said. “Everything the Maidu wore, ate and used is from this area that they live in. I hope they made that connection.” Maidu Docent Josephine Roscoe led the Daisies on a tour of the museum’s exhibits, teaching them the different roles of Native American men and women. The girls also learned how to make beaded Indian bracelets and how to play Stave, a favorite game of Native American children that is played with sticks and is similar to today’s Yahtzee. “It’s a beautiful museum that we are so lucky to have here in Roseville,” Flores said. “Anytime you are able to preserve and share your culture with others, like the Maidu are doing with the museum, it’s just one more thing that makes us all special and unique.” Megan Wood can be reached at