Making the Mosaic is a thought-provoking series that explores the great American diversity by engaging with community members to share what being an American means to them. It provides a virtual forum where you can join our special guests as they share stories and performances about their journeys to “Belonging” in America. Guests will include artists, activists, educators, leaders, organizers, researchers, and youth leaders.

Episode #2- Hummingbird Circle – Ohlone Voices

Join us for Making the Mosaic ‘Ohlone Voices’ as we conversate with present-day Ohlone community members and get a glimpse into the culture-documentation by photographer Ruth Morgan and writer-historian Janet Clinger. Moderated by Charlene Eigen-Vasquez and Priya Das.

Janet and Ruth documented the efforts of three generations of Native Americans in California committed to keeping their culture alive and thriving, in “Ohlone Elders and Youth Speak”. For fourteen thousand years the ancestors of contemporary Ohlone peoples served as caretakers of this beautiful region— from San Francisco to Pt. Sur – but there are only a few culture-bearers today that carefully maintain and propagate these traditions and practices.

The conversations will be between Ohlone elders, current culture-bearers, and moderators talking about their journeys, participation in the Ohlone Elders and Youth Speak project, passing on their traditions to their youth, and where all of this fits in with current life and times.


Panelists & Moderator

Ruth Morgan – Panelist

Ruth Morgan founder and Executive Director of Community Works created an organization that combines both her interest in working directly with people impacted by incarceration and her commitment to social justice. She has led the organization for two decades to create model programs and public art of the highest quality. Sometimes as an artist but most often she has commissioned artist work that illuminate issues that impact the work of the organization. She has used her own art for social change to give voice to marginalized communities. Early in her career she created a seminal body of photos, San Quentin: Maximum Security. These life size photos traveled the country and eventually were useful in winning a case against the prison conditions in San Quentin, a case that went to the Supreme Court. She has exhibited work in museums and galleries across the country and is in multiple private and museum collections that include the SFMOMA, Huston and San Diego Museums and the University Art Museum Berkeley. She has won numerous awards including the Creative Work Fund, San Francisco Art Commission, California Arts Council and California Council of Humanities Awards. Her recent projects with writer Janet Clinger, Ohlone Elders and Youth Speak and  Piqua Shawnee, Cultural Survival in the Homeland look at the struggle for Native Americans to keep their cultures alive as they navigate living in two worlds. These exhibits have traveled in the Bay Area and the Ohio Valley.

Janet Clinger – Panelist

Janet Clinger holds an MA degree in history. In 2005 Ms. Clinger and photographer, Ruth Morgan, created an oral history with accompanying photographs, Our Elders: Six Bay Area Life Stories. Ms. Clinger’s work was featured with Ms. Morgan’s photographs in the exhibit, Ohlone Elders and Youth Speak at the San Francisco Main Public Library in 2014. They created an e-book containing the photographs and complete interviews from this project. She and Ms. Morgan, in collaboration with the Piqua Shawnee Tribe, created an exhibit and book highlighting their cultural revitalization efforts. The exhibit opened at Berea College in Berea, KY in 2018. Her book of poetry, The Woman Who Lives in Trees, was published in 2007. Currently, she and Ms. Morgan are working on All My Relations, a book and exhibit featuring the relationship between humans and the other animals.

Charlene Eigen-Vasquez – Moderator

Charlene is an Ohlone descendant whose family has lived within this 50-mile radius of San Jose for hundreds of years. Charlene brings with her over 30 years of management experience and mediation. Some of the Native organizations that have benefited from her skills are: the TANF program managed by the Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada; the Maidu Family Story Project; Indian Dispute Resolution Service of Sacramento; Little Earth of Minneapolis; the Ohlone Wellness Project; and Con Carino, an international children’s support services organization. Finally, during her stay in Central Minnesota, she expanded her understanding of culture and tradition, while teaching as an adjunct Professor at St. Cloud State University and serving as a research and evaluation consultant on issues of program effectiveness and outcomes for Native programs serving Lakota and Ojibwa families. All of this experience makes Charlene an asset on the council of the Confederation of Ohlone People. She has an extensive academic background including a Business Administration from the College of Notre Dame (Belmont, CA); and a M.A. in Mexican-American Studies, from San Jose State University, with a capstone project looking at teaching practices that work for Native Americans. In addition, she holds a law degree from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

Episode #1- Making the Mosaic

Join us for our first episode of Making the Mosaic, as we partner with San Jose Jazz to explore the concepts of improvisation in Jazz and Classical Indian music, and discuss how these musical genres come together to help Make the Mosaic of our America.

Featured artists are saxophonist George Brooks and sitarist Arjun Verma!

Click here to check out their previous performance of Charukeshi to see (and hear) what you have to look forward to!