Dorothy Morehead Hill and her associate Robert Rathbun began a series of professional collaborations interviewing a group of Native American Elders and documenting the culture, language and life of Northeastern California's Native American tribes and families in the early 1960s. They proceeded, both separately and together, for the next 35 years adding to their work using tape recorders, video and still cameras and documenting what they called “California Native oral traditions” throughout parts of Mendocino, Lake, Yolo, Sonoma, El Dorado, Placer, Amador, Mariposa, Nevada, Sierra, Yuba, Plumas, Butte, Sutter, Colusa, Glenn, Trinity, Tehama, Humboldt, Shasta, Lassen, Siskiyou, and Modoc counties. Ultimately, they collected and produced mountains of data.
These collections contain substantial information about the social life, religion, family relationships, cultural elements, stories, geographic place names and Northern Northeastern California regional Native American life experiences. One concern of Ms. Hill was that Native American culture, language and social history not be lost when the Elders passed away. She felt that language was especially important and she found the few living native speakers for some languages. She also wanted to preserve Native American culture so that the traditions could be passed on to future generations. Lastly, she intended to create a unique collection to be used for education about and research into this dimension of the history of Northeastern California. The collection is organized by people, places, tribes, titles, subject and research files and field notes. Her original donation included additional materials not related to Native Americans which are not part of this collection.
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