COLLECTIONS & HISTORY
1966 - The Mono Indians of North Fork felt that the culture of the Tribe would soon be lost if a place to preserve and protect their artifacts was not built. A group of dedicated visionaries created one of the first museums to be solely owned and operated by a Native American organization. The funds took six years to raise to complete the building that would house the permanent collections.
The Mono were slowly losing their traditional ways. Their language was forbidden in many of the Indian schools which the Mono children attended. Modern life replaced the old ways of gathering and hunting. Not longer could people hunt deer and other animals for food and hides, gather acorn and other traditional foods, or the materials to make baskets due to private land barriers
Inside the museum, located at the corner of Roads 228 & 225 in North Fork, California, are many artifacts and baskets on display donated and on loan by members of the Tribe. Other collections include weapons, traditional games, ceremonial items, tools, and beautiful beaded crafts. Also on display is the Tettleton Wildlife diorama collection - over 200 freestanding taxidermy animals from Northern America, Asia, and South America.
the Mono People were estimated at around 1,500 when the settlers first came to the area . The Mono came from "over the mountains" from Bishop, Lone Pine, Owens Valley, Mono Lake, Yosemite Valley, and the Kings River in Tulare County. There are many theories as to what the word "Mono" means: one theory is that the Mono were named after the grass from Owns Valley whose seeds they ate. The Mono are related to the Paiute tribe and share many language similarities. Mono Elders relate how they can understand the language of the Indians from "the other side of the mountain.".
Today, the museum has a workshop area where Elders make and instruct others in the art of Indian basketry and beadwork. Gathering practices are being taught to young students and weaving skills are being handed down. The museum also has a nature trail with signage indicating Native usage of indigenous plants.
The organization has seven Members of the Board serving two-year terms. Active Mono Members reserve the right to run for office and voting privileges. Each November, the Museum hosts a dinner for all members where traditional foods are offered.The Museum hosts Indian Fair Days & Pow Wow every first weekend of August. This event has been part of the Mountain Community for the past thirty-seven years and is open to the public.
Our Native American basket collection has a wide variety of styles from many tribes. the main focus is on Cradle Baskets [huup] made from Sourberry shoots, split winter redbud, split sedge roots, chaparral [buckbrush] shoots, yarn red earth pigments and leather. Cradle Baskets are still used today for a newborn up to two years old.
"I had a doll basket, my Hoochi - that's my father's mother - made one for me. When I stayed at the mission [school in North Fork] we used to get dolls for Christmas. I would bring it home and put it in my doll basket and play like I had a baby - Ruby Pomona, Western Mono
SIERRA MONO MUSEUM 33103 ROAD 228 NORTH FORK CALIFORNIA 93643 (559) 877-2115