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AGENCIES AID INDIAN SITES NEAR TEHACHAPI\State, volunteers, conservancy target 2 old villages in Sand Canyon.

Byline: Charles F. Bostwick Daily News Staff Writer

Activists and state park officials have launched two fund-raising efforts aimed at better preserving and explaining the remains of an Indian culture that flourished in Sand Canyon as long as 1,500 years ago.

State parks officials and volunteers are raising money to build a visitors center for 2-year-old Tomo-kahni State Park, which contains remains of an ancient village, while a private group is trying to acquire nearby land that contains another village site.

"This is the first state park that has been established as an archeological preserve," said Lynn Dunbar, western regional director of The Archaeological Conservancy, which helped the park department acquire Tomo-kahni and is now trying to buy another 160 acres a mile away.

"This is all a grand experiment that the Parks Department is doing."

Located in Sand Canyon between Mojave and Tehachapi, Tomo-kahni covers 240 acres of rolling, brush-covered hills purchased in January 1994 under a bill sponsored by former state Senator Phil Wyman of Tehachapi.

The park contains the remains of stone rings on which the Kawaiisu Indians built their brush-covered huts, along with burial grounds and more than 400 bedrock mortar holes, plus a pictograph-adorned rock shelter known as Creation Cave and sacred to the Kawaiisu.

Tours of the park, whose name means "winter home," are conducted in fall and spring, and are expected to resume in April.

State parks officials want to build a visitors center containing exhibits explaining the former settlement. It probably would be built about a mile north of Highway 58 on Sand Canyon Road, several miles outside the park boundary, because building on an archeological site is prohibited, said state parks spokeswoman Mary Lou MacKenzie.

No cost estimate has been established for the center, she said. Officials hope to have the fund raising finished in three years.

The Archaeological Conservancy, a nonprofit group that has established more than 100 archeological preserves nationwide, has an option to buy the additional 160 acres by July for $45,000, which Dunbar said is far below its actual value.

"Otherwise, it might be developed before the state parks can come in and acquire the property," Dunbar said.

The second village site is called "Ma'a'puts" - "old woman" in the language of the Kawaiisu - and is named for a legend of a mysterious old woman who appeared at the solitary boulder that rests at the entrance to its canyon.

Besides a central village - occupied from about 1,500 years ago to the early 1900s, roughly the same time as Tomo-kahni - the new property includes smaller archeological sites along two creek beds, extending over nearly half its 160 acres.

The Ma'a'puts sites include the remains of more stone house rings, a cave with a pictograph in a geometric design, ancient mortars ground into rock shelves and the boulder known as "Ma'a'puts."

The conservancy intends to seek grants from foundations and corporations to buy the land, as well as use fund-raising events and appeals to its 12,000 members.

Those interested in donating to the visitors center can mail tax-deductible donations to California State Parks, 1051 W. Ave. M, Suite 201, Lancaster 93534. Checks should be made out to California State Parks, Tomo-kahni Fund 202.

Those seeking information about the conservancy or its efforts can write to 1217 23rd St., Sacramento 95816-4917.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 21, 1996
Words:554
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