Tour explores Maidu way of life

    Sierra Institute Center of Forestry invites residents and visitors to experience a Maidu way of life on a special tour Saturday, May 15. 

Farrell Cunningham, whose Mountain Maidu ancestors have lived in the valley for thousands of years, will guide the tour.

    He has a wealth of knowledge of both Maidu and Indian Valley history and is one of the few remaining speakers of the Maidu language.


    Cunningham also has a vast knowledge of native vegetation and is active in the promotion of traditional ecology, or Native stewardship of the land.

    He currently teaches Maidu language courses in Grass Valley.

    Marvin Cunningham, his father, occasionally joins the tour to share his expertise and knowledge. He was born and raised in the Genesee Valley and has lived here all his life.

    Both men are very knowledgeable about the family’s history and details surrounding Maidu culture in this area of Indian Valley.

    The tour will begin at 10 a.m., with refreshments and orientation at the Sierra Institute office on Main Street in Taylorsville.

     Then it will be time to board the bus for a drive out to the historical Heart K Ranch in Genesee.

    Once there, participants will enjoy a casual one-mile hike on the ranch, stopping along the way to discuss Maidu history, culture and language, as well as native vegetation, food gathering and preparation, and forest management.

    Cunningham will lead participants in a meandering walk reminiscent of nomadic ways, while he tells stories and talks about vegetation and landscape features.

    Participants will visit an oak grove, where he will talk about the importance of acorns to the Maidu and discuss other food sources and preparation.

    Shortly after the walk, participants will stop at an old apple orchard for a picnic lunch and more stories.

    The Feather River Land Trust owns the Heart K Ranch, and trust president Betsy Kraemer manages the property.

    Kraemer will describe the role of the land trust and discuss the history and restoration of buildings on the ranch.     Participants will be back in Taylorsville no later than 4 p.m.

    Space on this tour is limited; call early and make reservations.

    Morning refreshments, lunch and bus transportation are provided as part of the tour,

    The cost is $50 per person or $95 per couple.

    For reservations, visit or call 284-1022.

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