August 03, 2017

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NISENAN: A Cultural Music Project

A collaborative cultural project with members of the Nisenan Native American Tribe that seeks to preserve and support their indigenous music.

We are ghosts in our own homelands.

Shelly Covert, Spokesperson, Nisenan Tribe


In April, Vox Musica will be collaborating with members of the Nisenan Native American Tribe of Nevada City Rancheria for a cultural concert project that seeks to preserve and support the history, tradition, and spirit of a strong and beautiful group of indigenous people to the State of California. NISENAN: A Cultural Music Project, a rare opportunity to share and document the tribe’s rich tradition of culture and music. Vox Musica will transcribe into modern notation their tribal music, will create a documentary of the cultural process and exchange, and will commission composers to create modern arrangements of their music. Contributing to this project is the commissioned works of international composers including Latvian Composer Raimonds Tiguls and the documentarian work of Rob Fatal from F-Cinema Productions. The culmination of this project will be a music and media presentation on April 14 (Nevada City) and April 15 (Sacramento).

April 14, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Location: The Foothills Event Center (400 Idaho Maryland Rd, Grass Valley, CA 95945)

April 15, 2018 @ 5:00 pm

Location: Beatnik Studios (723 S Street, Sacramento, CA, 95811)


$20.00 (pre-sale)

(Scroll down to purchase tickets)


The Nisenan Story


The Nisenan Indians are the indigenous people who lived at the geographic and financial heart of the 1849 Gold Rush in California. Our Tribal populations were devastated and cultural ways nearly extinguished during this time of great taking and greed. In 1851, just a few years after the onset of the Gold Rush, 18 California Indian Treaties were created but never ratified by Congress leaving the Tribal people with no land upon which to live. No compensation was ever received for the involuntary loss of homelands. The Nisenan suffered while California grew and became an official state. More than 50 years later, with the help of the local Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West, especially a strong suffragette named Belle Douglas, Nevada City Rancheria gained federal recognition in 1913. We were recognized by an Executive Order made by President Woodrow Wilson when he took office and therefore restored our Tribal Sovereignty and ability to self-govern. The Federal Government took 76 acres of our ancestral Chief’s lands into “trust” and created our reservation in the foothills just outside of Nevada City, California.

The reservation served as home to many of the Tribal families until its “Illegal Termination” in 1965. The land was sold at auction and the Tribe lost all access to federal programs and services.  The Tribe was part of the class action lawsuit called Tillie Hardwick in the 1970’s but never received judgement nor was it dismissed. Fast forward to 2008, through a series of random events the Tribal Council learned this fact and began its legal action to seek restoration. After nearly 8 years in federal court, the Nevada City Rancheria became the first California Rancheria to be denied restoration of Federal Recognition. The Nevada City Rancheria was also the first to have the 6 year statute of limitations used against them. Strangely, the other 41 Tribal groups who were restored were also outside the 6 year statute.

So, what’s next for the Tribe? As a terminated Rancheria our only recourse is Congress. Other Tribes have been restored through Congress but its an hard road. Our biggest hurdle is the lack of resources to support the Tribe through its journey into the political world. Conversations have begun, but we are in need of educated and experienced mentors or guides to assist. As in the past, we have had protectors such as Belle Douglas come to our aid. Maybe another will come for our last attempt; final stand; last Hurrah!! We will learn what we can and start down the path and hope those who might help will join us on our journey.

– Shelly Covert – Spokesperson for the Nevada City Rancheria and Executive Director of the California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project (C.H.I.R.P.)

For More Information about the Nisenan Tribe Visit:

Collaborating Artists

Rob Fatal

Rob Fatal is a video and performance artist concerned with the Queer archive and exploring decolonial aesthetics. Fatal has been awarded grants by the Berkeley Film Foundation, Queer Cultural Center and SOMArts Cultural Center. Their work has been screened internationally at Fringe! Queer Film & Art Festival in London, POPA Art Gallery in Buenos Aries, Frameline SF LGBTQ Film Festival, Galeria de la Raza San Francisco, Toronto Queer Film Festival, Geneva LGBT Film Festival and First Nations Film Festival in Chicago. Fatal is an assistant professor of Theatre Arts & Film at Sacramento City College. Their films are distributed by Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Center.

For More Information about Rob Fatal Visit:

Featured Composers


Raimonds Tiguls /1972/ is Latvian composer, musician, author and producer of many cd’s released worldwide. He became known in 1999 as a representative of ambient and electronic music. The International attention he has gained for his albums “Moonlight Sound Design” and “De Angelis”, released by the Latvian label UPE, and rereleased by the German record label ZYX Music, and, from 2000 to 2007, music from the albums was featured on more than 20 music collections in Germany, Switzerland and Benelux countries. In 2011, he released the project “Islands” together with singers from Iceland and Gotland.

For More Information Raimonds Tiegels Visit:

Purchase Tickets

APRIL 14 – The Foothills Event Center (Grass Valley)

APRIL 15 – Beatnik Studios (Sacramento)

DONATION (2017-18)

Your gift to Vox Musica enables us to fulfill our mission of making music worth sharing, our priceless gift to our community. Living performances of sterling quality, local and world premieres of exciting new works, community-based music education, and original collaborative works between local artists, composers, musicians, and students are only made possible by your generosity.