Malki Museum

A sign on the freeway for a Native American museum caught my eye, and Janice and I made a snap decision to check it out. I felt pulled – compelled – to stop, and I am forever thankful that we did. We found treasure there.

The Malki Museum sits on the Morongo Indian Reservation in Banning, California, west of Palm Springs, just off of I-10. We toured the small museum with Rich showing us around. (Thank you, Rich. Your knowledge and willingness to share it was very special to us and enhanced our experience!) Amongst the art and artifacts, he showed us a rack of books published by the Malki-Ballena Press, a publishing company founded by the Malki Museum in 1965. If you are interested in Native American history, you should check out their website: I was especially interested in the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology. What a great publication!

Rich then directed us to the Temalpakh Garden. Temalpakh means “from the earth” in the Cahuilla language. This peaceful garden has only those plants used by the Cahuilla people for food, medicine, clothing, housing, tools, and arts. It was in this garden that we found the greatest treasure of all: Aaron. Aaron is the grandson of one of the Malki Museum’s founders, Dr. Katherine Siva-Saubel, who was an amazing linguist and historian. She passed on her love of the elusive Cahuilla culture to her grandson. Aaron sang a wake song for us, and it touched me deeply. I couldn’t get his voice out of my mind for the remainder of our vacation.

On the way back from Arizona, I knew I had to stop to see Aaron again (it had nothing to do with the fact that he’s a handsome man – I swear it!). I was granted permission to record his singing the bird songs of days past. His singing transported me to a different time and place, and I could feel it reverberating throughout my being.  I separated the songs into four videos (the recordings plus pictures that we took at the museum, pictures from the Malki website, and others):

Every year the museum holds a special event on the Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend. I can’t wait for it! Please check out their website: http://www.MalkiMuseum.orgfor details.

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