Essie Parrish, Kashaya Pomo Doctor

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Parrish was the last Kashaya Pomo doctor. A dreamer and healer, she also assisted anthropologists with cultural studies. She was a remarkable woman.

Marin Museum of the American Indian presents

The Final Fall Lecture Series

Essie Parrish: Kashaya Pomo Doctor

Wednesday Nov. 13, 7:00 p. m.

Marin Art and Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Ross

$5 Donation

The Marin Museum of the American Indian will sponsor a lecture on Essie Parrish: Kashaya Pomo Doctor and Cultural Preservationalist 7 p.m., Nov. 13 at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross.

The talk will be presented by Ottis Parrish Family and a Native American Grave Repatriation Act respresentative from the Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

Parrish is the last of four spiritual leaders believed sent to guide the Pomos, Born Essie Pinola, she was 6 years old when her people, the Kashaya Pomo who live at Stewart's Point in northwestern Sonoma County, acknowledged her as their ''dreamer.'' The term can best be translated to mean ''visionary'' but also includes ''doctor'' or ''healer,'' as well as ''priest'' and ''prophet.''

She raised 13 children, managed an apple cannery, was an accomplished basket weaver and, for 70 years, provided spiritual focus for her people. She was the religious, political and cultural leader of her tribe.

The Pomos lived there until 1920, when the federal government bought the 42-acre Nobles Ranch, five miles west on Skaggs Springs Road, and established the Kashaya Reservation.

Throughout her life, Parrish used her powers to unify her people. She was the acknowledged center of the community, recognized as the last of four promised leaders sent by the spirits to guide the Kashaya Pomo.

It became her mission to educate the Kashaya children in the Indian language, culture and laws. She not only taught in the reservation school, but compiled a Kashaya Pomo dictionary, working with Robert Oswalt, a Berkeley scholar well-known in the field of Indian linguistics.

Her spiritual gifts, particularly the ability to prophesy and interpret dreams, drew scholars to her. Parrish was ''discovered'' by the most noted anthropologists of the time, including the University of California's Alfred Kroeber and Samuel Barrett.

The museum’s goal is to promote an awareness and understanding of Native American history and culture. It is the only museum in the San Francisco Bay Area devoted exclusively to Native Americans from all regions and offers a range of programs that include “Camp Coyote” for children, “Tales Around the Campfire” as well as an ongoing exhibit of rare indigenous toys, artifacts and tools and a special exhibition of kachina dolls.

Cost is a $5 donation. For more information, call 415-897-4064 or visit

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Karen Pierce Gonzalez