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California Native Plants: Contemporary & Traditional Medicinal Uses

Learn to preserve and utilize native plants from seasoned experts. Stroll through the campus meadow, next to ancient Cahuilla bedrock mortars, and learn about the plants surrounding you in an ethnobotany talk. Discover the secret lives of plants and seeds you usually look right past, including prickly pear cactus, white sage, elderberry, stinging nettle, pine sap, and rose hips. In this workshop, you will learn to use native plants to treat minor ailments, such as skin conditions, how to treat colds, and utilize teas and drinks for health and wellness. Most importantly, you will learn traditional and modern sustainable gathering practices that ensure the safety and sustainability of these sacred plants. You will get to make an elderberry tube to store teas, medicine, or offerings, make skin salves, herbal tea bags, and other items. On the evening of the first day of class, you have the option to participate in a field trip to local Cahuilla rock art sites in Idyllwild to learn their meaning and the importance of their preservation.

With deep gratitude, this workshop is dedicated to the founding instructors of the Native California Plants workshop, Katherine Siva Saubel, and cherished former colleagues and friends Barbara Drake and Daniel McCarthy.

Note: The content learned in this workshop is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation or an endorsement of any particular medical or health treatment. Please consult your medical care provider before using herbal medicine, particularly if you have a known medical condition or if you are pregnant or nursing.

  • Notebook
  • Pen/pencil
  • Dollar Store binder/folder for handouts
  • Cooking the Native Way Cookbook (Optional)
  • Comfortable closed-toed shoes for walking

Craig Torres (Tongva) is a member of the Traditional Council of Pimuu and involved with the Ti’aat Society, an organization focused on the revival of the traditional maritime culture of the Southern California coastal region and Southern Channel Islands. He is an artist, as well as a cultural educator, presenter and consultant to schools, culture and nature centers, museums, and city, state and government agencies acting as a consultant on the Tongva. He has also been involved with the organizations Preserving Our Heritage and Chia Café, which provide cooking demos and classes with California native plants. These activities also provide education on the importance of preserving native plants, habitats and landscapes for future generations.

Abe Sanchez is active in the revival and preservation of indigenous arts and foods, with specialties in Southern California Native American basketry and California and Southwest native foods. He has worked with traditional Native American gatherers to learn methods and practices. Abe believes that by teaching people about ancient natural foods and preparations, he can help them make a difference in their health and the environment.

Lorene Sisquoc (Mountain Cahuilla/Apache) was born in Riverside and serves as curator/culture traditions leader at Sherman Indian High School Museum, in Riverside, CA. She is an expert basket weaver and has extensive knowledge of native plants and their uses.

Teaching Assistants: Kateri Madrigal (Mountain Cahuilla) and Starla Madrigal (Mountain Cahuilla)

Native American & Inland Empire Teacher Scholarships 

Generous donors have made scholarships and fellowships for adult workshops available on a limited basis for these specific groups:

1) Native American Community Leaders, Artists, Members, and Teachers

2) Inland Empire Teachers, Professors, and Graduate Students

Scholarships include tuition, dorm housing, and all meals provided by the campus dining service.

Scholarship Details: 

1) Native American Community Members, Leaders, Artists, and Teachers

For adults 19 and older with current tribal affiliation, the scholarship brings community leaders, artists, members, and teachers to workshops at Idyllwild Arts to benefit both the scholarship recipients themselves and those in their schools or tribal communities. Applicants with financial needs may receive priority. We also offer scholarships for Native American Teens for both the Summer Program and the Academy.

2) Inland Empire Teachers, Professors, and Graduate Students

For teachers and graduate students from the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and the adjacent areas), this scholarship brings teachers and graduate students to Idyllwild Arts to attend Native American Arts workshops. The Native American Arts Workshops benefit both recipients and their students and communities, providing culturally appropriate instruction and professional development to teachers and graduate students. Applicants with financial needs may receive priority. These scholarships are made possible through the generous support of the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians.

Click here for more information about adult scholarships.

Age: 19 years and above

Dates: June 18-19, 2022

Tuition, room and board:  $660

Day student tuition:  $370

Lab Fee: $45, includes, materials, food, field trip 

Skill Level: All levels

Enrollment is limited to 12 students.

Faculty: Abe Sanchez, Craig Torres, Lorene Sisquoc, Kateri Madrigal, Starla Madrigal

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