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Karen Newell Young
Nisenan tribe to kick off WorldFest
20th annual festival to focus on the local and global
Although the Global Village has long been a part of California WorldFest, the local Nisenan tribe had not been a focus of the music festival. Until now.

For the first time, the Nisenan, Nevada County’s own indigenous tribe, will open the festival and host the Global Indigenous People’s Village with its own stage, featuring music, dance and workshops.

“We met with everyone who was part of the festival in past years and what we learned was ‘being authentic and global was part of our intention,’ and that led us to the Nisenan tribe’s Shelly Covert,” said Julie Baker, executive director of the Center for the Arts, which has sponsored WorldFest for the past three years.

Covert, tribal spokesperson for the Nevada City Rancheria, advised that incorporating the Nisenan people was critical to the festival, Baker added.

So for the first time, the Nisenan people will be featured in the Welcome Center of the 21st Annual California WorldFest at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley from July 13-16.

They will open the event with a spotlight on this local native culture.
The Nisenan are known for a variety of educational and preservation projects in Nevada County, the most prominent being its annual Heritage Day held at various locations throughout the county. It brings together Native American artisans, educators, dancers and others involved in Nisenan culture.

“We are bringing the Nisenan Heritage Day to WorldFest so we can bring our voice to this audience,” Covert said. “I’m really pleased that our presence there will lend authenticity to the festival. We’re raising awareness through public education and this is another way to glimpse culture from around the world.”

“To be respectful we have to start with home,” Baker said. “To honor the people who were here before us.”

WorldFest, 20 years old this summer, brings people and cultures together to celebrate music and art, honoring native peoples and celebrating indigenous history and lifestyles.

Michael Franti, known for his global conscious lyrics, has been at the forefront of lyrical activism, using his music as a positive force for change.

“We are thrilled that Michael Franti and Spearhead will be closing 2017’s festival on Sunday night, said Baker. “His message of love, unity and tolerance is perfectly in line with the Festival’s vision.”

Also on the bill is Seun Kuti, the youngest son of legendary Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. He performed with his father and his band Egypt 80 until his father’s death in 1997. He has since continued to lead the band and followed the political and social ethos of his father –adding his own twist to the music, digging deep into various African traditions to reflect the continent’s struggles and cultures.

The festival also features Peter Yarrow (of the former Peter, Paul & Mary), known for his messages of humanity and love.

“Earth Guardians” Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 16 years old, and his brother Itzcuauhtli Martinez, indigenous environmental activists, hip-hop artists and public speakers from Boulder, Colorado, and Ukrainian “ethno chaos” band DakhaBrakha, which combines Indian, Arabic and African in a trans-national sound rooted in Ukrainian culture are also featured.

“We look forward to WorldFest patrons leaving with a smile on their faces and hope in their hearts,” Baker said. “Music truly connects us all.”

A two-for-one ticket price for local residents will be featured on Thursday, the first day of the festival. For a complete list of performers and more information on the festival, visit worldfest.net.
Courtesy Photo
Shelly Covert, tribal spokesperson for the Nevada City Rancheria, speaks at a Nisenan Heritage Day event in 2013. She will be on hand at the welcome center at this year’s WorldFest.