Friday, December 24, 2010

Deathbed conversations: tell me about the plants

Photo of Solorsano, by J. P. Harrington.
Dramatic deathbed scenes are all too rare in news stories. So I'm happy that my story in today's Santa Cruz Sentinel and the San Jose Mercury News has one.

Ascencion Solorsano de Cervantes was the last member of the Amah Mutsun tribe versed in the traditional ways of medicine. People from hundreds of miles away sought her care.

In the summer of 1929 at age 83, Solorsano, the last fluent speaker of the tribal language, and a longtime resident of Gilroy, felt death approaching. To prepare, she moved to her daughter's Monterey home, bought a new black silk dress for burial and called her family close to say goodbye. But life had more in store. John Peabody Harrington, a Smithsonian linguist who spent his life recording native languages and customs, heard of Solorsano's illness and rushed to her.
Read the rest.

In the UCSC Arboretum

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