First workshop on Native American plant uses is Sept. 29

We “cannot learn the properties of every plant in a lifetime,” said Daniel McCarthy, archaeologist, former Tribal Relations Program manager for the San Bernardino National Forest, and director of the Cultural Resources Management Department, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. “Native peoples passed plant knowledge down from generation to generation.”

But he and Barbara Drake, Craig Torres, Leslie Mouriquand, Abe Sanchez and Cadie McCarthy are expert teachers, as well as experts in Native American plant uses. They will convey their knowledge of native plants for the Idyllwild Arts Palms to Pines

Seasonal Plants Workshop Series, beginning Saturday, Sept. 29.

The Sept. 29 caravan along the Palms to Pines highway to explore its plants will be followed by four more hands-on workshops that deepen the investigation on Oct.

20 and 21, Jan. 12 and 13, April 20 and 21, and June 29 and 30.

These workshops for adults and families (ages 10 and older) are available individually or (for a substantial discount) together. The workshop names suggest the ambitions of the expert teachers: “Introduction to Our Cultural Landscapes: Plant Seasonality and Uses”; “Wild Baked Goods from Native Plants”; “Soaps & Spa: The Potential of the Pinyon Pine”; “Yucca Processing & Agave Roasting”; and “Focus on Foods: Gather, Process, Feast!”

The knowledge of agave, yucca, pinyon pine, acorn, buckwheat, mesquite and ribbonwood to be shared by the experts can’t be learned in a lifetime because native peoples like the Cahuilla Indians of the Palms to Pines region have incorporated that knowledge into every aspect of their lives. So, the uses of native plants are as rich as the story of a life.

As Tongva educator Drake observes, plants have traditionally supplied “everything we needed,” including “our food, our medicine, our clothes, our soap, our tools, our basketry … everything.”

However, the Workshop Series experts will give special attention to the plants’ nutritional, medicinal and therapeutic uses. Workshop attendees will take part in gathering and processing plants, and some of the workshops involve making foods as well as items that Native Americans have used, and continue using, for their health in other ways.

Above all, the Workshop Series will respect the communal and celebratory character of Native American life in the Palms to Pines region. Anybody taking the workshops will have a chance to celebrate — and good reason to.

For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org/summer or call 951-468-7265. To register, visit www.idyllwildarts.org/register.

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