We support the celebration of Indigenous Peoples Days at the Sycamore Ranch park east of Marysville, and encourage area citizens to visit and learn – we’re assured by organizers that it is one of their goals.

We’ve always felt wary about attending powwows and Native American ceremonies. We’re aware of how much we’ve taken from indigenous people; we don’t want to be guilty, in the end, of appropriating what they’re left with: their culture.

Still ... we want to understand. And we live for stories. So we attended last year’s gathering, and sat to the side during the descendants’ circle and listened to amazing stories. There are many stories at Indigenous Peoples Days. Some tales are tragic. Some make us feel ashamed for what happened. But some of them are wonderful and make us see things we hadn’t noticed and in ways we’ve never thought of.

And those who organize the days, say that the whole idea is to bridge gaps, educate people, get everyone together. 

“We’re perpetuating a native culture in a 21st century community, so community involvement is key,” said Grayson Coney, cultural director with the Tsi Akim Maidu at opening ceremonies Thursday.

“Without non-native people, this event wouldn’t happen, because everybody is native to somewhere, and that’s how we’ve been running this event,” Tribal Chairman Don Ryberg said in a story earlier this week. “I believe that they have come together for people to heal.”

So if you’ve been interested in what’s happening out there at Sycamore, but you weren’t sure whether you should go, or whether you’d be welcome, you should pay them a visit and watch and listen.

Listening is good.

(Today started out with a sunrise ceremony and the “calling back the salmon” ceremony.” There is  a spirit run, community feast, music, dancing, storytelling, arts and drumming. Tomorrow, Sunday, there are a women’s talking circle, the descendants’ talking circle, a veterans circle, and more.

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Thumbs Down doesn’t even begin to signal our horror over the mass shooting last Sunday night in Las Vegas. 

We just want to thank everyone we’ve spoken to and heard from this past week who took at least a little bit to acknowledge the tragedy. Everyone says it was terrible. Most shake their heads and wonder what is becoming of this world. Our greatest hope is that this sort of thing never becomes normalized to the point that we give it little thought, aren’t surprised, or shocked, or much saddened.

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Thumbs Down: It’s pretty unsettling to find that more than half of the students in Sutter and Yuba counties failed to meet English and Mathematics standards in a standardized test given last spring.

This was the third year of the computer-based California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress tests. Results: 57 percent of Sutter County students and 61 percent of Yuba County students didn’t meet the standard for English language arts and literacy; for mathematics, nearly 72 percent of both counties did not meet the standard.

Students are rated for reading, writing, listening, research and inquiry for English; concepts and procedures, problem solving/modeling and analysis for mathematics.

What do local officials say? The new tests are harder than those given before; and it’s just one snapshot in time; and the state trend is about as bad... They may be right, but we’d like to be hearing about plans for raising scores.

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Thumbs Up: Boy, we liked reading the story about Stephanie Townsend’s bone marrow donation. The local woman helped save the life of a boy she’d never met. 

In 2012, she was watching a show about a man whose life was saved, thanks to a bone marrow transplant; it motivated her to register with an organization that helps match donors with those in need. As it happens, it was found that she was a match and was flown to Stanford in March 2014, put under anesthesia, and doctors removed marrow from her hip bone. 

Later, she learned that the recipient was a young boy and was now healthy. She just got to visit the family in person earlier this summer.

This area woman helped a family she’d never met, on the other side of the country, keep their son alive. 

There are all kinds of heroes.

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Ugh: A couple notes from one of our bowling alley buddies, Dwayne:

– “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said. But I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant!”

– “The secret of managing life is to keep the folks who can’t stand you away from the folks who are undecided.”

– “The short fortune-teller, who escaped from prison, was a small medium at large.”

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