The Maidu Tree of Life
Gift of the Aeschliman-McGreal Collection

CALIFORNIA BLEND: Tradition and Change; Millard Sheets Gallery, Pomona, CA, September 9-26, 1999

Memory and Imagination: The Legacy of Maidu Indian Artist Frank Day', by Rebecca J. Dobkins with Carey T. Caldwell and Frank R. LaPena, 1997. pp. 86 & 103) "The Maidu Tree of Life (1979) portrays a scene from the Nisenan Maidu creation myth....In the Nisenan myth, Earthmaker (`Akatim') planted the first acorn, which grew into a giant oak tree. Here, Earthmaker rests with Turtle (`Awan') and Spirit Man (`Kakinim Maidyk') at the base of the Tree of Life after creating the world and all its creatures. Turtle helped in the creation by diving under the waters to bring up the mud Earthmaker needed to make the first bit of earth, while Spirit Man played the role of helper and prompter to Earthmaker.... This version of the Nisenan Maidu creation myth is that of Betty Castro, Dal Castro's wife, whose stories were the inspiration for many of the artist's paintings. The myth is recorded by McGreal (McGreal, Patricia. 1994. Dalbert Castro: Nisenan Painter. Unpublished manuscript in the collection of the Oakland Museum of California.)."/ Patricia Aeschliman McGreal, 1993: "The oak tree, particularly the black oak, was almost literally the "tree of life" for all northern California valley, foothill and mountain Indians. In this painting, Akatim, the World-maker, rests with Awan, the Turtle, and Kakinim Maidyk, Spirit Man, at the base of the "Tree of Life" after creating the world."
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