May 2021 First Wednesday Talk – Indigenous Peoples of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, with David Stuart
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Join the Mill Valley Historical Society for a night of illumination as anthropologist and museum director David Stuart provides an overview of California’s unique Delta region and the lifeways and history of the many Native nations that lived there for thousands of years. The heart of the Delta was not populated because it was underwater twice daily at high tide and the west edge of the Delta was sparsely inhabited by California Indians because it was in the dry rain shadow of the Coastal Range. The east periphery, on the other hand, had not only the state’s two largest rivers—the Sacramento from the north and the San Joaquin from the south—but also several rivers flowing directly from the Sierra Nevada; it had the highest prehistoric population density in North America, except Central Mexico. Rich cultures developed in this region from modern Sacramento to Modesto and it was important in the early history of California.
David Stuart began his career at Caswell State Park on the lower Stanislaus River. He attended Fresno State and graduate school at the University of Colorado, majoring in anthropology. Dave worked in the Colorado History Museum and as an archaeologist and planner for the National Park Service. Returning to California, he managed three history museums for the City of Ventura. More recently, he was director of the Sacramento Science Center (now Museum of Science and Curiosity) and the Sacramento History Museum in Old Sacramento.
In 2006, Dave was excited to return to his home county and lead the San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum. He retired from that position in 2017 and served briefly as interim manager of the Sacramento History Museum.
He is now doing research for a book and many articles, assisting with the development of a Delta Welcome Center and educational facility in Clarksburg, and serving on the Advisory Committee for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Center.