This August Victoria Canby, Interim Museum Director, and intern Parker Canby began videoing a series of interviews with some of Marin’s most respected and knowledgeable Native elders. Victoria believes their stories will help keep traditions alive, educate the general public about what it means to be an American Indian, and inspire young people such as her 8 year-old son Avi to understand and respect their ancestors.
The first elder interviewed was JoAnn Dillon, the best friend of Victoria’s mom. Ms. Dillon, now in her late 70s, is of mixed-race, her father being Choctow from the U.S. Southeast, and her mother being white. She was born in Oklahoma, one of seven children. Her father died when she was 2, and her mother, disowned by her own family for her choice in marrying a Native American, moved her children to California. In Marin she met other Indigenous people and joined in ceremonies and traditions. JoAnn feels the oral history project will be a great educational tool, and says, “The more there is out there for people to think about, the more children are able to get the truth.” Watch the video here.
Another interviewee in the series is Sacheen Littlefeather, who has worked for many years to protest racist Hollywood portrayals of Native Americans. Her father was Apache, and her mother was also white. Her parents had to move from Arizona, where, in the 1940s, their interracial marriage was illegal. Sacheen is proud to join Marin elders in the video series, as she says, as “the keepers of the old traditions,” since “we’ve climbed to the tops of the mountain, to the peaks that others have not traveled.” Look for this video soon on our YouTube channel.