(Victor Valley)– More than 1,500 school-age children are expected to visit Cal State San Bernardino and learn first-hand about California’s Native American culture, history and customs as part of the week-long California Cultural Awareness Conference to be held on campus from Sept. 23-27.
The conference, which will be led by Native American leaders and representatives from several tribes, is a prelude to the 15th Annual California Native American Day on Friday, Sept. 27, at CSUSB.
California Native American Day will feature traditional Northern California brush dancers, Southern California bird singers, a traditional Native American theater company performance featuring all-ages dance groups from Central and Northern California, food and demonstrations of traditional life ways and knowledge.
The celebration, which is hosted by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and Cal State San Bernardino, along with the university’s Cross Cultural Center, is free and open to the public. Free parking will be available in Lot D.
Conference sessions will take place in the university’s Santos Manuel Student Union 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. during the week. The conference is sponsored by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and organized by the tribe’s Tribal Unity and Cultural Awareness Program.
Since 1999, nearly 46,500 students and teachers from schools in San Bernardino and Riverside counties have participated in the weeklong conference, which offers a variety of educational activities about Native Americans indigenous to California, through workshops, educational resources and informative discussions by tribal members and academics.
Partners in the event include the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, San Manuel Education Department, the San Bernardino City Unified School District, the city of San Bernardino and the California State Department of Education.
This intertribal collaboration involves Native American presenters who take time out from teaching at reservation schools, such as Noli Indian School on the Soboba Indian Reservation, as well as the San Manuel Education Department, to participate in this educational outreach program.
Gov. Ronald Reagan officially acknowledged the contributions of California’s Native Americans in 1968, when he signed a resolution proclaiming the fourth Friday of September as American Indian Day. In 1998, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1953, written by then-Assemblyman Joe Baca, establishing Native American Day as an official state holiday.
For more information on California Native American Day or the California Indian Cultural Awareness Conference, call (909) 537-7204 or visit the California Native American Day website at www.nativeamericanday.com.