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INDIAN CENTER FACES CLOSURE, CAN'T PAY RENT.

Byline: CHARLES F. BOSTWICK Staff Writer

TEHACHAPI -- A state parks Indian cultural center, which hosts visitors for Tomo-Kahni State Park as well as classes for continuing the Kawaiisu language, is in danger of closing for financial reasons.

The center -- in a downtown Tehachapi storefront -- gets its rent money from gift shop proceeds at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, which had few visitors last spring because of the poor wildflower season.

``It's unique in that the facility is not in the state park,'' state parks staffer Jean Scott said of the Tomo-Kahni Resource Center. ``The park is remote and is not open to the public except by tours. The facility is downtown, so it's accessible to the public.''

A fundraiser to boost rent funds is scheduled for 5to 9p.m. Saturday at the poppy reserve. A silent auction, entertainment and hors d'oeuvres will be offered in the poppy reserve's Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center.

Hosted by the Poppy Reserve/Mojave Desert Interpretive Association, the event will offer for sale clothing, posters, books and other items from the poppy reserve and Tomo Kahni.

Auction items include two tickets to tour Hearst Castle at San Simeon State Park, camping and day-use passes for state parks, a winery tour and wine from Antelope Valley Winery, and a photograph by wildlife photographer Frank Walkinstein.

Fundraiser guests can take a night hike with a ranger, watch the Geminid meteor shower, look at stars through telescopes set up in the parking lot and enjoy a cup of Mexican hot chocolate, Scott said.

Fundraiser admission and parking are free. The poppy reserve is west of Lancaster on Lancaster Road. Visitors take AvenueI from the Antelope Valley Freeway and go west 14 miles.

The nonprofit interpretive association, a group of volunteers who fund local state park education programs and events, pays for the four-year-old Tomo-Kahni Resource Center's rent because the center is not on state property and the parks department budget does not cover it.

Last spring, income from sales of books, calendars, T-shirts and other items at the poppy reserve gift shop was only 20percent of the year before because so few visitors came to see the wildflowers. Their bloom is heavily dependent on weather.

Meanwhile, the center's rent is going up in January from $600 to $630 a month, and money to pay it is likely to run out early next year, Scott said.

The Indian center is open to the public noonto 4p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at 112 East F St., Suite A, Tehachapi.

Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park visitors meet there with their guide before driving about 12 miles to the park, whose name means ``winter home.'' The park contains rock art and the remains of a village occupied until the early 20th century by the Kawaiisu, or Nuwa, people, of whom fewer than three dozen are left.

For information, call (661) 727-9899.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 10, 2006
Words:479
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