Su Nu Nu Shinal Dancers Perform in Moscow, Krasnoyarsk, and
The regional government of Krasnoyarsk, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, invited the Su Nu Nu Shinal dancers from the Kashia group at Fort Ross to perform at the 4th Annual Krasnoyarsk International Music Festival of the Asia-Pacific Region, “a cultural conversation of the people of Asian-Pacific region [establishing] bridges of friendship, mutual understanding and creative cooperation between representatives from different countries.” The festiva hosted performers from 26 different countries!
Su Nu Nu Shinal Performances
- Moscow: June 23rd and 24th: Lecture and performance at the Jewish Museum of Tolerance; visit the Russian Academy of Sciences.
- Krasnoyarsk: June 26th through July 3rd: Perform at the music festival, visit Krasnoyarsk’s cultural sites, meet with other native people participating in the festival, and pay our respect at the grave of Nikolai Rezanov.
- St Petersburg: July 4th: Private visit of the Kashia artifacts housed in the Kunstkamera (Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography); Evening lecture at the Lermontov Library.
- St Petersburg: July 5th: Perform inside the Peter and Paul Fortress, with support from the US Consulate.
The Russian Federation covered all expenses for the thirteen adults and six youth performers in Su Nu Nu Shinal for the entire leg (airfare, lodging, and per diem) from Moscow to Krasnoyarsk and their return to St Petersburg. The Renova Foundation and the Renova Fort Ross Foundation sponsored their international airfare and designed and sponsored a series of events and a special exhibit at the recently-opened Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow to highlight the dance group. Breck Parkman, Senior State Archaeologist with California State Parks, joined the performers in Moscow.
It is remarkable that at this time of increased tension between our two countries, it is the Kashia’s Su Nu Nu Shinal who provided a diplomatic bridge between the Russian Federation and the United States.
Su Nu Nu Shinal Kashia Performers
The Su Nu Nu Shinal performers truly enjoyed this trip. As Billyrene Pinola describes it, they are especially invested because the have a strong bond with Russian America, on lands where it’s possible their ancestors once lived:</P
“We are Kashia Pomo and Coast Miwok, and we have been a group since the late 60’s. Our performers are 7 to 62 years old, and some of us have been performing our traditional dances and songs for over 40 years. We have our artifacts in St. Petersburg that we hold dear to us. We would like to dance for the Kunstkamera to show them how we still use the regalia today that have been looked at by so many tourists across the years. We have a beautiful story with our Russian brothers and sisters. We do have DNA somewhere in Russia and we’d like to find it, and to dance on the lands where our people might have lived.”
The Kashia first met the Russians 200 years ago when they allowed the Russian colonists to settle on Kashia land. The Russians and Kashia signed a treaty outlining their agreement, perhaps the only treaty between Euroamericans and California Indians that was honored, and this treaty made the Russian presence quite unique during this era. For almost thirty years these people worked together in relative peace and stability, forming unions, trading expertise, and sharing language. To have the Russian Federation invite the Kashia to perform at a site historically tied to Russian America brings Russians, Americans, and the native Kashia together again full circle.
This image shows a peace medallion given to the Kashia by the Russians in 1812.
We thank all the sponsors who have made this trip possible. We also thank the good folks at Russian Connections for helping us with the hotel and airline logistics. We send our warmest thoughts to the Su Nu Nu Shinal as they bring a little of Northern California to the heartland of Russia. Safe travels!
Partners and Sponsors
- The Russian Federation
- The Regional Government of Krasnoyarsk, Siberia
- Renova Group
- Renova Fort Ross Foundation
- Fort Ross Conservancy
- The US Consulate General in St. Petersburg, Russia
- Kunstkamera – Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Science
- Lermontov Public Library
- St. Petersburg History Museum, Peter and Paul Fortress
Banner image, Indian Camp Near Fort Ross, 1886, painting by Henry Raschen, courtesy of California Historical Society.