Musical instruments, storage, jewelry: Celebrating the use of gourds in Native American art, culture

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Friday, November 11, 2022
Exploring Native American culture through art
'Everything we have comes from Mother Earth.' Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center celebrates arts by various uses of gourds

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (KABC) -- From tiny gourds to much larger ones, the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center teaches art classes to visitors from all over Southern California.

"Part of our history... all indigenous people all over the planet... is to leave things better than we found them," said Nadiya Littlewarrior.

Littlewarrior teaches the workshop and explains how gourds are an integral part of Native American history. They are often used for musical instruments, storage, jewelry and ceremony pieces. Some tribes used them in the past as small refrigerators in freezing cold rivers.

She says there is a famous line used by Southwestern tribes: "Walk in beauty."

"A simple statement, but it carries the responsibility of taking care of Mother Earth because everything we have comes from Mother Earth," said Littlewarrior

Visitor Mark Fergus likes that his kids are able to learn a bit of history.

"Spiritual things and about all the things that have sort of been forgotten with technology, so I really love going the opposite direction and having them in nature," said Fergus.

But Littlewarrior adds, decorating the hard-shelled gourd has never been about ownership - but stewardship.

"We didn't own anything, we didn't feel we had the right to claim ownership of Mother Earth but we did know we had to care for it," said Littlewarrior.

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