Shut your eyes for a minute. Imagine you are traveling back through centuries - long before white man had the audacity to show up and begin shuffling around the New World.
You look at your hands - they are brown. They may be weathered; but perhaps not. In your right hand is a long conical stone pestle - unless you are a lefty. You are using this tool to grind acorns in mortars formed on a massive marbleized limestone rock outcropping with 1,185 mortar holes. There are others in your group performing similar activity. You know each other. Some of them are your kin. All of them are of your tribe. You are a member of the Miwok Native American people. And you are among the FIRST people of this land, which will later become known as California.
Meanwhile, back in today's world where reality can get into mischief, the 135 acre Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park exists as a testament to the original people of California, who lived in this area for many centuries, before being driven into less desirable land, by settlers, who arrived during the California Gold Rush.
Early today, my grandson, Baron and I spent time contemplating the existence of those early people of the land..
A reconstructed Miwok village provides present-day descendants of the Miwok with an opportunity to preserve their heritage and traditions. Several times during the year, local Native Americans hold ceremonies. In September, Indian families gather at the park for the annual acorn gathering ceremonies. Dancing, story-telling, and games are traditional activities. But, there is no fixed schedule of events.
The Northern Sierra Miwok established their villages alongside the rivers and streams of the Sierra Nevada - from the Cosumnes River on the north to the Mokelumne River on the south. Other Miwok groups lived to the west as far as Mount Diablo and as far south as Yosemite National Park.
The park is located near the town of Pine Grove, approximately 8 miles east of Jackson on highway 88 (headed toward Lake Tahoe). The distance is about 48 miles from Sacramento.
For more information about this fascinating place, you can visit the Indian Grinding Rock State Park website.
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