Our Sacramento valley sits upon some fascinating history. From the days of the Gold Rush to the history of the California Railroad, to Sutter’s Fort and the Indian tribes that surrounded us, we have the opportunity to explore and teach our children some of the most amazing historical facts of our region. Recently, we visited the Maidu Indian Museum in Roseville and I was pleasantly surprised by this “hidden” discovery and the history that is among this area.
“The Maidu Indian Center was built on the edge of an ancient village site in which Nisenan Maidu families thrived for over 3,000 years. Our historic site was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 because of its importance as a unique cultural resource due to the hundreds of bedrock mortar holes and the numerous petroglyphs carved into the sandstone boulders strewn across the north end of the site. In addition, a vast midden area is telling evidence of thousands of years of occupation.”
The two-story museum has interactive exhibits explaining the life of the Niesenan Maidu families and how they lived during this time. Along with the exhibits, they also have a beautiful trail (a little under a mile long) that takes you passed petroglyphs, bedrock mortars, towering oaks and a year-round stream. This trail is easily accessible for wheelchairs, strollers and those of us who just like to take a leisurely stroll.
My kids’ short attention spans were kept engaged in the museum by the exhibit drawers that pulled out and learning about the toys the Maidu children would play with. They also enjoyed doing their own petroglyph rubbings, puzzles and especially enjoyed the trails outside. When we visited, we had perfect weather for our stroll and had the opportunity to chase butterflies, search for coyotes (luckily we didn’t see any) and exploring the ancient bedrock mortar holes and boulders that are along the trail.
This is a great place for any and all children (or adults) to learn about the Maidu Indians who resided in this area and how they lived. The center is open Monday-Friday 9am-4pm and Saturday 9am-1pm. Admission into the center is $5 for adults, $4 for children and seniors or $16 for a family of four.
This Friday, April 15, the Storytelling Campfires are back! Storytelling has been an important part of Native American culture for thousands of years. Your family can enjoy roasting marshmallows and hearing native stories of the Maidu Indians under the night sky at the outdoor amphitheater. This event takes place every third Friday from mid-April until the end of October. Please call in advance if you will have groups of 10 or more. Museum doors will open at 7pm and the program begins at 7:30pm.
The Maidu Museum and Historic Site is located at 1970 Johnson Ranch Drive in Roseville.
By Heather Crivellone