Two books by Heyday Press paired together make compelling bookends for the native experience in California’s Sierra. “Deep Hanging Out: Wanderings and Wonderment in Native California” just published and “Deeper Than Gold: A Guide to Indian Life in the Sierra Foothills” from 2005 combine to provide images, first person accounts and a sly coyote’s commentary from within the trusted circle of native friends.
Malcolm Margolin has been a rule breaker from way back. No wonder this remarkably cheerful and curious individual resettled from the East Coast to Berkeley in the 1960’s. His early work researching California’s native culture led him to found an unconventional publishing company, Heyday Books, which today exists as a non-profit organization and describes itself as “an independent, nonprofit publisher and a diverse community of writers and readers.”
Over the years, landmark texts have come into existence because of Margolin’s sensitivity, persistence and passion for storytelling. The preservation of California’s native heritage today includes an awe-inspiring collection of titles published by Heyday Books. These books have the power to preserve, inform—and if we are wise enough to allow—reshape our sense of place.
“Deep Hanging Out: Wanderings and Wonderment in Native California”, Margolin’s new book, delivers on the promise to share with him, through collected writings, his experiences hanging out with California tribal members over some thirty-odd years. Collected essays and introductions to other in-depth works are collected here to give a rare real-world view of a different mindset and way of thinking.
The term ‘deep hanging out’ originated in 1998 by anthropologist Clifford Geertz 1998, This term describes the anthropological research method of immersing oneself in a cultural, group or social experience on an informal level. I suppose we can most likely find examples of people who practice this, only to find that they themselves adapt to the very cultures they study.
Around 2005 or so I first heard Margolin speak at a conservation conference. At the time, I did not attribute his elfin cheerfulness, unconventional perspective or out of the box thinking to his years spent engaged in documenting California’s Native cultures, but today, I do. To some extent, perhaps, Malcolm Margolin has gone native and I mean this in the very best way.
These collected essays show that Margolin listens and quietly, without putting himself in the middle of the conversation, presents a bird’s eye view of California Indians—both southern and northern tribes—with a genuine humor and sensitivity that is so often lacking in text book accounts.
“Deep Hanging Out” gives us a record, a guidebook and most importantly, a frame of mind from which to view tribal traditions. Without saying as much, this book also gives non-native people the opportunity to come to some sort of reckoning by helping to preserve these traditions and keep them alive, with a first step of reading this informal anthropological record.
Also, by Heyday Books is, “Deeper Than Gold: A Guide to Indian Life in the Sierra Foothills”. Brian Bibby brings us a rich cultural record of life and times in the Sierra Foothills from the native perspective. Released in 2005, Bibby partners with photographer Dugan Aguilar to record many first-hand stories as told by elders along with maps, historical photos and photos by Aguilar. These accounts provide a historical reference for many landscapes now fully developed. Without sidestepping, Bibby also gives us a glimpse into a time of intense racial division.
Through Bibby’s accounts, we gain a new way of looking at the gold rush and the many foothill settlements that displaced tribal grounds and customs. This work guides the reader through each foothill region with specific traditions of Nisenan, Maidu, Konkow, Miwuk and Chukchansi tribes.
Bibby provides maps, some driving directions and thorough resource references. Stories shared by elders provide a sense of a rare way of life in Yosemite, Coloma and beyond. This is an excellent moment to re-frame the manner in which modern culture has become habituated to seeing places as entitlements and resources from which to extract at whim for profit. Today, we are exhausting the wild places with our love of tourism, scraping from the surface bits of history and traces of another era. Bibby gives us a chance to dive deeper and gain a sense of place and spiritual context that is perhaps hanging on by the slim thread of story-telling.
“Deep Hanging Out: Wanderings and Wonderment in Native California” and “Deeper Than Gold: A Guide to Indian Life in the Sierra Foothills” provide a unique opportunity to understand the true nature of California’s real gold and wealth—one that existed prior to newcomers and the epic changes that fell upon the landscape. Spend a bit of time with Earthmaker and Coyote. Discover why homes that last a generation ensure continuity of tradition. Take in the native presence through words and stunning photographs all while remembering brilliant landscapes that remain as a treasure to conserve.
For those wanting a visual reference to tribal sense of place, check out the art exhibit set to open July 10 and run through August 29 at the California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project’s (CHIRP) new location at 225 Broad St, Nevada City, CA. Facebook event page here.
About Deep Hanging Out: Wanderings and Wonderment in Native California
“Deep Hanging Out is a vibrant testament to one man’s commitment to nurturing community and dancing with change.”—Terry Tempest Williams
“Filled with insight and affection, as well as some of the most gorgeous writing, Deep Hanging Out will appeal both to newcomers and to those whose roots and hearts reside in the state’s Indian country.” from the publisher
“Malcolm Margolin is an American treasure. His publications and community service have uplifted the citizens of California, especially the cultural contributions of the Indigenous peoples of California.” —Joy Harjo (Mvskoke), United States poet laureate, author of An American Sunrise
About “Deeper Than Gold: A Guide to Indian Life in the Sierra Foothills”.
“Deeper Than Gold” is a marvel of a book about the history and cultures of the many Indian peoples who make their homes even today in California’s Sierra Nevada.” —Orin Starn, author of Ishi’s Brain: In Search of America’s “Wild” Indian
“This gorgeously designed book offers an intimate view of the remarkable and persistent people of Gold Country whose culture continues to evolve and thrive in the area around Highway 49.”—from the publisher
About Pamela Biery
Pamela Biery is a public relations professional and writer who lives in Northern California. Pamela Biery contributes to a number of magazines and online news journals. Often outdoors in the Sierra Nevada, her poetry is focused on the Yuba River Watershed, near her home in Northern California. Additional writing can be found at: www.PamelaB.com. Her iBook ‘Swimming Into Sunsets’ is on iTunes.