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Orange County Focus

COUNTYWIDE : Children Get a Glimpse of Native Life

August 12, 1993|TERRY SPENCER

There was a time when American Indians roamed what is now called the Anaheim Hills, looking for food, water and shelter.

And throughout the summer, Kathy Nicholas and her Indian Summer crew at the Oak Hills Nature Center in Anaheim try to give Orange County youngsters an idea what those days were like.

One of their most popular programs is the Indian OAKS, an acronym for Outdoor Awareness Knowledge and Skills, which gives children enrolled in day camps throughout the area a one-day taste of American Indian life.

The children, ages 4 through 12, are brought to the center for four hours of folklore, crafts, games and hiking. Up to 150 children a day take part.

"We try to show the children a little about the relationship Native Americans had with the natural habitat of Southern California," Nicholas, the program's coordinator, said. "We tell them that Native Americans had to be conscious of their surroundings because they couldn't go to the grocery store for their food or Mervyn's for their clothing."

Some of the crafts the children participate in include sand painting, pottery making and face painting.

"We discuss with the children what the significance of face painting was within the Native American culture, but we tell them this is all for fun," Nicholas said. "We aren't trying to convert them into warriors."

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