California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project Presents 5th Annual Visibility Through Art Exhibition in New Gallery, Opened Today


Visibility Through Art is a community art initiative produced annually as part of CHIRP’s Arts and Culture program. Visibility Through Art is an intentional and enlightened collaboration between local artists and members of the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan tribe. Each project year explores a theme or topic of importance to the tribe, culminating in an annual exhibit. This year, artists were asked to focus on Destruction of the Land | Destruction of the people. We are invited to consider: the impact of humans on the environment and the long-term impacts of the Gold Rush on the Nisenan people. Art paves the way for meaningful conversations around topics that are not always easy to tackle and can sometimes reveal solutions that might otherwise go unseen.

‘UBA SEO – Nisenan Arts and Culture is CHIRP’s new gallery space in downtown Nevada City. “UBA SEO is a new channel to bring visibility to the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe while fulfilling CHIRP’s non-profit mission: to preserve, protect and perpetuate the Nisenan culture. Excitement continues to build over this brick and mortar space in downtown Nevada City. It is an accessible, highly visible place, a place where we can finally be seen. “UBA SEO will be a destination for the authentic: Native American art, Native retail, community themed art collaborations, educational workshops, art exhibitions, and more.

“The UBA SEO identity will be malleable, reshaping as needed to best meet the mission of CHIRP and increase the visibility of Nisenan. ‘UBA SEO – Nisenan Arts and Culture is another incredible step towards increasing the visibility of the Nevada City Rancheria and their continued efforts to restore federal recognition.


This artistic event was created to engage our community in a conversation about this land and the Nisenan people. It also serves to increase the visibility of the Tribe. Shelly Covert, a member of the Nisenan Tribe who sits on the Nevada City Rancheria Tribal Council, is the spokesperson for her tribe, and the Executive Director of CHIRP said, “The goal is to create conscientious works of art that inspire dialogue about Nisenan’s history and culture. We were looking for a way to tell our collective story and it seems to be working. Art is an incredible platform to engage in difficult dialogue. And collaborating with local artists has not only been a pleasure, but it helps us achieve our goals. Our deepest hope is to raise awareness of local historical and current issues through art. The unique pieces created each year during this project have become the main body of CHIRP’s expanding art collection. This year, most of the artwork will be on sale as part of CHIRP’s fundraising efforts to support our amazing programs.


The Nisenan are the indigenous people who were here thousands of years before the Gold Rush. Despite the destruction of their homeland, the breaking of treaties and forced assimilation, today they remain here in their homeland and strive to have their identity reflected in the fabric of the community.

Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order in 1913 which granted federal recognition to the Nisenan, and the Nevada City Rancheria preserved 76 acres of land in trust as an Indian reservation. In 1964, the Nevada City Rancheria was one of forty-four California Rancherias erroneously “terminated” by Congress and is today one of three California Rancherias awaiting restoration. The true and correct knowledge of the Nisenan and their ancient existence on this land, until very recently, had been completely erased from history and the tribe was almost forgotten. The need for visibility as the tribe struggles to restore federal recognition and sovereignty has begun to turn the tide of historic amnesia.

Until recently, most of this education and change had to be taken care of by the tribe itself. Thus, the California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project, aka CHIRP, was created to assist the tribe in the areas of federal recognition, education, art, protection of cultural resources, return to the land. , education and community communications, media, fundraising, etc. CHIRP’s mission responds to the needs of the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe, guides and informs good relations with Indigenous communities, stabilizes the Nisenan culture and community, while bringing education and connection to the public through its charitable purposes. CHIRP’s 501v3 status provides opportunities that as a completed tribe the Nevada City Rancheria does not.

Local artist Jennifer Rugge, right, and Shelly Covert collaborate on pieces for this year’s show.
Photo provided
Visibility Through Art is an intentional and enlightened collaboration between local artists and members of the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan tribe.
Photo provided

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