Walks and Workshops

Join the Museum for Nature Connections that bring us closer to our surroundings. Learn new skills, visit new places, or discover familiar places in a whole new way!

Upcoming Events:

Indigenous Land Stewardship at Quiroste Valley, Then and Now

July 28 | 10 AM – 12:30 PM

Pre-registration Required – Click HERE to Register
e: $15 Adult | $5 Off Museum Members
Space limited to 20 participants
Location:  Quiroste Valley Cultural Preserve

About the Walk:

The Quiroste Valley Cultural Preserve, located near Año Nuevo, was created to protect cultural resources, to restore native vegetation, and to re-implement “traditional resource and environmental management.” Explore indigenous land stewardship at Quiroste—both historical and contemporary—with the Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, Valentine Lopez, and the Program Coordinator for the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, Jay Scherf. 

On this hike, we will take a look over the Quiroste Valley, imagining what the landscape looked like in the past and learning why it looks the way it does now. On this short walk into the valley floor, we will visit what remains of a large Quiroste village (most likely the village of Metenne) and discuss the Quiroste people, how they managed the landscape and natural resources in the area, and what happened to the Quiroste during colonization. A few hundred yards away, at a large stand of coastal tarweed we will discuss how the Amah Mutsun—the descendants of the Quiroste—returned to the valley, and the research and conservation efforts the Tribe and the Amah Mutsun Land Trust is involved in now.

The group will meet at a parking lot near the entrance to Quiroste Valley Cultural Preserve and carpool into the reserve due to limited parking. This walk will be no more than one mile on established trails. Please wear layers and comfortable shoes for walking on uneven surfaces. Sun protection, water, and snacks recommended. More details will be provided upon registration..

About the Walk Leaders:

Valentin Lopez is the Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, one of three historic tribes that are recognized as Ohlone. The Amah Mutsun are comprised of the indigenous descendants forcibly taken to Missions San Juan Bautista and Santa Cruz. Chairman Lopez is also the President of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust which was established in 2012. He is a Native American Advisor to the University of California, Office of the President on issues related to repatriation. He is also a Native American Advisor to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology. The Amah Mutsun are currently working to restore their traditional indigenous knowledge regarding land stewardship so they can return to the path of their ancestors. Consequently, the Amah Mutsun are very active in conservation and protection efforts within their traditional tribal territory. Chairman Lopez is working to restore the Mutsun Language and is a traditional Mutsun singer and dancer. (photo credit: Richard Morgenstein)

Jay Scherf is the Program Coordinator of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust and has been with AMLT since 2014. He coordinates the AMLT’s flagship Native Stewardship Corps, a program that hires Amah Mutsun Tribal members to participate in environmental stewardship and cultural relearning in the tribal territory. Originally from Sonoma County, Jay holds a BA in Society and Environment from UC Berkeley.


Baskets: Then and Now

September 22 | 9:30 AM – 1:30 PM

Pre-registration Required – Click HERE to Register
e: $20 General | $5 Off Museum Members
Space limited to 15 participants
Location:  Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

About the Workshop:

Explore the history and art of basketry in California by taking a behind-the-scenes look at the Museum’s Collections, touring the Museum’s native plant garden, and learning about local botanical resources and how to steward them—all while creating your own basket!

During this hands-on workshop led by Museum staff (not of Native descent), participants will be offered a unique look into the Museum’s extensive basketry collections led by Collections Specialist Kathleen Aston, after which Museum Education Coordinator Marisa Gomez will guide participants in the construction of their own pine needle baskets. Everyone will go home with their completed basket and a tapestry needle to start their next project.

Not recommended for children under 12.

About the Workshop Leaders:

Marisa Gomez is the Museum’s Education Coordinator, responsible for creating and leading educational programs for the public and youth groups, with special emphasis on connecting people with the culture and land management practices of the Amah Mutsun. Marisa is a Certified California Naturalist with a B.A. in Creative Writing from San Jose State University and began working for the Museum in October of 2015. In her art, she enjoys using foraged materials to create natural dyes, tapestries, and baskets, with an emphasis on utilizing invasive materials and repurposing items such as kitchen waste.

Kathleen Aston has worked as the Museum’s Collections Specialist since January of 2017. Her responsibilities include the day-to-day oversight, documentation, and conservation of the Museum Collections. She has a B.A. in Linguistics from Reed College and a Master’s of Library and Information Science from the University of Washington.  Kathleen is fascinated by the informational life of objects and how they anchor people to an understanding of the natural world.

Native Crafts: Cultural Teachings of the Amah Mutsun

November 17 | 9:30 AM – 12 PM

Pre-registration Required – Click HERE to Register
e: $15 Adult | $10 Children | $5 Off Museum Members
Space limited
Location:  Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

About the Workshop:

People have utilized natural materials gathered from the California coast for hundreds of years for food, tools, and cultural traditions. Learn traditional skills and cultural teachings of our local Amah Mutsun tribal band. Create beautiful jewelry and crafts using traditional materials under the guidance of Amah Mutsun artisans. Adult participants will make beaded jewelry while younger participants practice using tule to create twine and toys, and learn about other important cultural relationships with plants and animals.

This workshop will take place in the Museum’s native plant garden and amphitheater (weather dependent) or inside the Museum’s workspace. Please dress for cool weather.

About the Workshop Leaders:

Eleanor Castro is an Elder of the Amah Mutsun tribal band from San Juan Bautista, descendent of the Ohlone Coastanoan people.  Her great- great-grandmother spoke Mutsun and also Awaswas, which was the tribe taken to build Mission Santa Cruz. She learned her cultural and artisanal knowledge from other native people and by studying notes from J.P. Harrington and other tribal members.  With this knowledge she has become a Cultural teacher and mentor Elder to the stewards of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust. She has worked out in the fields as cook, prayer, leader, mentor, and much more.  She also teaches her craft of beading at the Fresno American Indian Health Project in Fresno, CA and at an annual Native youth camp.

Eleanor sits on the Board of Directors of the AMLT and the tribal non-profit The Humunya Foundation, and volunteers at FAIHP. She assisted the Berkeley School of Archaeology as Elder giving advice and observing places that her people lived their way of life. About this experience, Eleanor reflects: “I was truly blessed to be among my ancestors and hear them talk to me. They said `Welcome back we’ve been waiting for you.’”

Nathaniel James Verdugo is Eleanor’s grandson, and a member of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band of San Juan Bautista and a descendent of the Awawas people of Misssion Santa Cruz. Nathaniel has been a Steward with the Amah Mutsun Land Trust for a couple of years and through this experience has learned Mutsun ways and ancestral knowledge of plants.  The stewards go out in the field on the lands of their people and work hard to clear non-native plants and learn about their native plants. Nathaniel has lead demonstrations at Chitactac Park with the County Parks Native Days with his grandmother for many years. He enjoys going back every year to teach local children the  ways of his people. Nathaniel’s goal is to help his people to come back to their origins and to gain their tribal ways and knowledge.

The 2018 Amah Mutsun: Then and Now program series is supported by California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.

Walks and Workshops are sponsored by:

Do you have an idea for a future walk or workshop?  Let us know at education@santacruzmuseum.org.