Stories from California: Connecting Past & Present

The fourth in an eight-part series from multimedia documentarian jesikah maria ross about the people, land, and stories of rural California’s Cache Creek.

There are still sacred sites along this creek, there are stories that go along with those village sites. —Marshall McKay, Tribal Chair

Close your eyes for a moment, and think back to grade school. All of us, no matter where in the U.S., had a unit or two on Native American history—can you remember what was in your schoolbooks?

If you are like me, you learned about a few of the larger tribes, like the Navajo (Diné), Sioux (Lakota), or Cherokee, and about some of the grim moments in our collective history, such as Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears. But what about the tribe in your hometown? Did you learn about them when you were growing up? Do you know how they are continuing their traditions and communities today?

These are questions Marshall McKay raised while speaking to me for Restore/Restory project. Marshall is the chairman of the Yoche Dehe Wintun Nation, the tribe in my county. He noted that most curricula don’t cover the Native people in the places we live. What’s more, this history is often taught as if Native Americans are something of the past, like dinosaurs. And the fact that many folks don’t have on-going opportunities to connect with local Native residents only reinforces this misperception and invisibility.

Maybe that’s why Marshall’s stories feel so illuminating. As we walked around the Cache Creek Nature Preserve, Marshall shared stories of not just genocide and survival, but also of family traditions, cultural practices, and the tribe’s on-going relationship with the landscape.

There are so many layers of history contained in a piece of land; here is one slice. Take a listen and share your thoughts. —jesikha maria ross

Go here to learn more about the Native American history of Cache Creek. To read and listen to other perspectives on the history of the area, visit


  1. That’s my kind of fishing, just wade in a grab the ones swimming by…

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