ACTA Site Visit: Digging Sedge at Fort Ord


Linda Yamane - Posted on 02 November 2010

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I know it's been a long time, but I'm back to catch you up on some of the things we’ve been doing since the last report. In late July, Carol and the girls came to Monterey so we could go out to Fort Ord BLM lands to gather more much-needed sedge for our baskets.

ACTA staff member, Sherwood Chen, made the long trip from San Francisco to join us for gathering of sedge roots, and I looked forward to him experiencing this beautiful oak woodland paradise. It was into the afternoon by the time everyone completed their journeys and rendezvoused at my house. We had a quick lunch, packed up the car, and headed for the backcountry. The day was clear and sunny. No fog! Hooray!

We arrived at Ishak Xuyxuyta, which means “big sedge place” in my Rumsien Ohlone language, carried out our digging tools and got right to work. The ground beneath the oaks was a bit dry, but still workable, and we spent a few hours gathering the precious sedge rhizomes used to weave our baskets.

When finished, we closed up the earth, sang our song of thanks, and posed for the next picture before carrying our buckets of tools and bags of roots back to the car. On the return trip home, through rolling, oak-studded hills, we passed other sedge beds and bracken fern, too. I vowed to come back soon to gather bracken fern rhizomes so I can extract the woody band used for basketry patterns.

We passed hundreds of manzanita bushes, recalling times we had stopped to gather the manzanita berries for making cider. But it was a bit late now, so I kept driving, that is, until I heard a shriek from the back seat. Between the screams, I heard the word "tick!” Then more screams. I quickly stopped the car, opened the door, and was just about to use a tissue to pluck the offending creature from one of the girls’ skin, when she (I won’t mention any names!) panicked and flung the tick onto the floor of my car. It took awhile for the adrenaline and screams to subside, while I spent the remainder of the ride home wondering how long it would take for the tick to find ME in the coming days. They discovered another couple of ticks before reaching my house, upon which we were treated to another round of screams.

Sherwood needed to hit the road, so we shared good-bye hugs all around and waved as he drove away. I suspect that by this time, he was ready for some much needed silence!

Carol and the girls spent the night, and the following day we focused on some weaving time together. Carol watched as I prepped my feathers for weaving and I showed her how to place the feathers in the stitches. She wasn’t ready for her feathers yet, but could start visualizing how it’s done. Arianna was our photographer, and Anissa (who had just turned 16 a couple of days earlier) was busy cuddling her new puppy “Miwok” in between trimming sedge.

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