Gathering of Hokan Speakers and Singers:

For thousands of years the first people of southern California gathered and sang and told their stories. The songs are still alive today among the Hokan-speaking people of southern California, USA, and northern Baja, California, Mexico. This project proposes to bring together at a gathering at Ft. Yuma Indian Reservation as many of these singers as possible. The purpose of this gathering is to exchange ideas, to enjoy each other’s music, to discuss significance of the songs, and to video-record this historical gathering for present and future viewing. We hope to invite an audience of people to listen and dance to this ancient music. Copies of these tapes will be made available to museums and other interested educational institutions.

The original Pipa songs are very old. They are the oldest in southern California. All modern Hokan songs have elements of Pipa songs. Pipa songs were the music of the ancestors of present-day Kumeyaaya, Kamia, Tipai, Paipai, Walapai, Havasupai, Quechan, Cocopah, and Mohave people. The songs have evolved into different forms such as Wildcat songs, Birdsongs, and others. These will be part of the topics under discussion at this gathering.

The Foundation will collaborate with Hokan Media Productions to produce a documentary film showing the various singers of Pipa music as they share their songs. To coincide with the film documentary, the Foundation will produce a CD of the music for public distribution, and publish a manuscript about this event and the topic of Hokan music. This publication will be in collaboration with the IVC Desert Museum Society and anthropologist, Rick Heller. This project is important because there are few singers alive who know the songs and speak the language. Since these songs carry tribal knowledge, it is imperative that the songs be preserved and important to support the few singers who are still trying to keep this knowledge intact.

Horsehair and the Frog (working title):

Preston’s latest play is set on the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation just before the turn of the 20th Century. Horsehair, a traditional chief among the Quechan, is disfavored by the U.S. Calvary and U.S. government representatives, who instead prop up a new political figure, Chief Palma. The play examines how this interference deeply affected the governance of the Quechan---effects still felt today.