Grandmother Lizzie Brannan

Grandmother Lizzie Brannan
Beautiful Traditions

People of the Pacific Northwest


The Little River is the border between the homelands of the
Wiyot and Yurok peoples. Other Tribes remaining today are the Karuk, Hupa, and Tolowa Tribes. While sharing a cultural framework, each of these Tribes had a wholly distinct language. In California, the Tolowa lived along the extreme northern coast, from the southwestern corner of Oregon to approximately fifteen miles south of Crescent City. The Yurok lived along the coast, from this point south to just below Trinidad Bay, and up the Klamath River, extending about 45 miles and somewhat past the junction with the Trinity River as well as a short distance south along the Trinity. The Wiyot lived south along the coast from Trinidad past Eureka to Ferndale, encompassing Arcata and Humboldt Bays, the lower Mad River, and the lower Eel River. The Karuk lived on Klamath above Yurok territory further up river to beyond Happy Camp, and along the Salmon River; the Hupa inhabited the Trinity Just before the junction with the Klamath, predominantly through the long north-south section called Hoopa Valley and south to Grouse Creek. The Chilula and Whilkut were smaller groups that inhabited interior valleys associated with Redwood Creek and the Mad River.

The natural environment, the rivers, mountains and oceans forged the cultural backbone of these people. Living on the abundance of foods, such as acorns,
salmon, deer meat and berries life here was remarkably untouched by contact with western society until the discovery of gold in 1849. The quest for gold did not last long and these peoples live in one of the few areas that remain culturally intact and for the most part were separated from the influence of America until the early 1900’s. These Tribes have a connection to their homelands, language and ceremonies that, unfortunately, is not the norm for a majority of Native peoples.


The religion of the local people was based on individual effort through ritual cleanliness and ceremonies including the entire tribe. The Tribes of this region practice the annual World Renewal Ceremonies, such as the Karuk Pikyavish, the Tolowa Nee-dash, the Hupa and Yurok White Deerskin Dance
and most Tribes perform the Sacred Jump Dance.

The purpose of the rituals is to renew the world or "firm the earth", as one tribe described it. This ceremony includes songs and dances that have been preserved for countless generations. Most of these rituals are considered to have connection with medicine. Medicine included not only that which was administered to cure sickness, but anything; root, herb, stick, or bark that is used to promote both physical and spiritual health. The Brush Dance is a both a social event and a healing ceremony in which the People of the local Tribes dance, sing, make medicine and pray to bless a particular sick child or infant. The dance takes place in the Brush Dance pit, and it involves men, boys and young girls. The herbal healing ceremony includes singing, chanting, rhythmic movement and jumping center. The spectators, seated on benches around the pit, also pray and help in the spiritual treatment of the child.


Indian people from this region excelled in basketry. Weaving and use of
baskets has always been a main element of the cultures of California
tribes. Our baskets are of the twined, woven type and are tight enough
that they could hold water for cooking. These tribes make a wide variety of
baskets from daily use such as Baby baskets, collecting vessels, food
bowls, cooking items, ceremonial items and we also made
basket caps, which
were worn by both women and also men if open weave .


Gambling was the most popular recreational activity for Local Native
people. Men would gamble each evening in the sweathouse, which served as
their lodgings (men and women slept separately). In the most popular game,
players would hide sticks, one specially marked, behind their backs. The
opponents would attempt to guess which hand held the marked stick.
Gambling, like many activities, was spiritually based and being "lucky" was
more a reflection of the quality of your character than an association with
random chance. Our peoples also played an endurance and strength game in
which men used sticks to try to throw a "tossel" (two wooden blocks
attached by a cord) across opposing goal lines despite the very
physical interference of the other team.

This paper presented by André Cramblit, Karuk Tribe. For more in-depth
information please see

Tribal Float with Dancers

Tribal Float with Dancers

Klamath River

Klamath River

basket hat

basket hat

Trinidad Bay

Trinidad Bay
Beautiful Pacific

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta

Below the ruptured mountain top
Lies a strange and battered landscape.

Large rounded mounds of heaved earth
Were laid bare by fire and ash 150 years ago

Pock marked with black rock, basalt bombs
Once rained down the west and north face.

A cinder cone near the freeway continues to crumble
Scarce of trees or any living thing, a testament

to the lack of viable soil. After a hundred years
Gold brought people to this land, and the soil

Once again supported some wild grasses
And a near by valley grew strawberries.

A lone coyote follows a cattle herd
Hungering for some late fall calves.

This mountain will erupt again someday
But now there is much more in it’s way.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

September Shorts

September Shorts

A litter of oak leaves
Skitter across the porch
Turn into cat toys
On the afternoon breeze.
Acorns ping the tin roof
clatter and roll down to the gutters.
Raucous Jays hunt and peck
tossing tree debris right and left
anxious for a meal.
Late September mornings come slower.
Cool nights raise river fog.
The slant of sun reveals
exhausted green, fading
magenta of dogwood.
Brisk gray mornings yield
to brilliant blue-sky afternoons.
Wood smoke climbs the evening air.
Leaf piles gather children’s giggles,
while school books wait tables.
With a great crack
a plum tree splits in half.
Every dog in the neighborhood growls.
The spindly plum is no match
for a bear escaping attacks
By climbing its little limp boughs.
September salmon
Smell the change in the river
the run has begun

Smoke houses primed
apple wood and cedar, smudge
deep pink flesh on strings

Salmon harvest begins
Feeds people time and again
A blessing for all

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

From on High

Fair weather clouds
chase their shadows
across tangents of flat farm land.

A crazy quilt of sturdy brown
freshly plowed rectangles intersect
squares and circles of new spring plantings.

Cattle ponds polka-dot the landscape.
Deep emerald alfalfa
completes the food chain for dairies.

From above I see clouds
in a scape only high fliers know.
Thunderheads pile up in turbulent majesty.

What was once a flat plain of white
deepens to gray, cloud cliffs
part to expose land far below.

Rain, in a high altitude waterfall,
forms verga, never reaching the ground.
We dip and tilt as we traverse the Rockies.

Home is all downhill from here.
Desert dry wrinkled skin of earth
is cross hatched with roads.

Everywhere are the markings of man,
carving out some sort of civilization
from the sometimes stingy land.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Alive and well in NY

NY Spring

I think the word is muggy
when clothes stick and showering
does little to relieve you.

The hills here are old and
round shouldered. Green nobs
roll in all directions.

Caterpillars creep up houses
drop from trees, and
squish under foot.

By the sluggish Allegany
weeds grow tall
and woodchucks burrow deep.

Lightning splits the night sky.
Thunder wakens the whole house
and the temperature barely cools.

Trees and flowers are all in bloom.
Sneezes blossom along with them,
and the air is almost too heavy to breathe.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

50 mile Tour de cure
Bob Brannan, Paul Standridge, Terry Tostie (diabetic)

Picture of the start that we missed because of foul up in registration,
first rest stop at 20 miles,
second rest stop at 35 miles, the fisish
and raise of salute to Terry and the reward for the effort and the good
deed. A special reward came later in liquid form at Bear Republic.
Twenty eight miles into head wind, a few hills for test, over three
hours getting saddle sore-but worth it. Thanks so much to all who cared
and donated to the cause.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Facing East

facing east

dark wet clouds
drag their bloated bellies
across the distant hills

bones of a tree lay
sucked down deep in the red clay
once a forest proud

burnt stumps dot the hill
like dozens of big black bears
squatting in the sun

now lost in old growth
moss skirted tree trunks
give no direction

below, river fog
swirls caress stately firs
gentles the sunrise

first published

Friday, April 30, 2010

Klamath River Meditation

There is a trail
down through tall cedar,
down to the River.

The Sun shines
in shafts of gold
creates patterns
on the red dirt.
Light-beams glisten
and dance on the water.

I sit on a boulder
flat and gray
that lies partway
Under the water.

I feel warmth
from this rock
from the Sun
from somewhere
deep inside.

I listen . . .
the Water's voice;
speaks to me.

I feel . . .
I am . . .

All I see is sacred.
I am . . .