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Native American storytellers visit Encinitas museum

ENCINITAS — The San Dieguito Heritage Museum hosted a Native American storytelling March 28. The crowd was treated to a performance by Native Talk, a group that travels to various venues to bring the lives of early tribes to life.
Cathleen Chilcote Wallace and her brother Chaz Chilcote, both members of the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians, gave an overview of the native people who populated Southern California. The information highlighted the history and culture of the Luiseno Indians.
Chilcote dressed as
the Coyote, while Chilcote Wallace’s son, Brandon Wallace, provided the music using a variety of native instruments including the flute.
“We were lucky to have my son there on Saturday,” Chilcote Wallace said. “It really sets the mood to have live music.”
The sibling duo has performed similar presentations for the past six years from San Diego County to Los Angeles. “We’ve always had very positive responses from all ages of people in every audience,” Chilcote Wallace said.
Participants ranged from toddlers to senior citizens at the event. “I like the authenticity of the storytelling,” Sara Pursell said. The Encinitas resident said she heard about the group from a previous assembly at her daughter’s school. “I didn’t want to miss it this time,” she said.
The event was part of the museum’s “Families Make History” program series. Director Shari Fortmueller said it was an effort to enhance the learning of other cultures that lived in the area and experience hands on activities related to different periods of history.
While the Native Talk presentation was steeped in an era long past, Chilcote Wallace said she hoped to make the lessons relevant to today’s society. “One of the main goals is simply to promote awareness of different cultures from an historical point of view but also to show the modern preservation efforts of culture and language of native people,” she said.
As important is the lesson of the story that is acted out by Chilcote Wallace and her brother. “Each story has a message and each person takes from that message what is meant for them,” she said.
For instance, in the “War Between the Beasts and the Birds,” a bat splits his time between the animals and the birds depending on who is winning the battle. “In the end, when the war is finally over, the punishment for the bat is that he must fly alone and only at night,” Chilcote Wallace revealed. “It’s about loyalty.”
Participants were treated to props made in the ancient ways of the Luiseno Indians, including a so-called “rabbit stick” used for hunting and a willowbark skirt. “I think it’s important for people to see how things were made from the resources that were available at the time,” Chilcote Wallace said.