Long ago, Cathleen and Chaz Chilcote looked forward to every Saturday. That was the day that Grandma and Uncle Andy came to San Diego from Oceanside to visit. The siblings and their mother would climb into Uncle Andy’s car and he would take everyone on the Saturday errands. While Mom and Grandma bought groceries, Cathleen and Chaz sat in the car with Uncle Andy. They rolled down the windows, climbed into the front seat with him and waited. Then, in his low voice he would say, “So, do you want to hear a story?” And they did. Uncle Andy told delightful, detailed stories. The characters were always animals; animals that lived like humans in the big, wide world where good always triumphed over evil. The time in the car always passed quickly.
After a big lunch, Grandma would sip her coffee, and say, “We are Indians. Our people are from San Luis Rey.” Then she would start a story. She told rich, colorful stories about her adventures growing up in the San Luis Rey Valley, the family ranch, healers, ghosts, and superstitions. Her stories woven with Spanish words took the listener back in time. She always ended the storytelling session by looking at Cathleen and Chaz, shaking her finger and saying, “Never forget you are Indian.”
Today Cathleen Chilcote Wallace is a storyteller, writer, and bilingual elementary school teacher. Through her NATIVE TALK storytelling presentations, she teaches native California history and promotes cultural awareness in schools and other venues. Her book, ” The Gift Basket” and its curriculum guide are used by teachers in San Diego classrooms. Cathleen is involved in teacher education, curriculum development, and finding alternatives to the fourth grade mission project.
Chaz Chilcote is an actor, musician, and storyteller. Currently he is living overseas and is only available for guest appearances with NATIVE TALK during his visits home.
Brandon Chilcote Wallace is the family’s fourth generation to carry on tradition. He plays native flutes and composes songs to accompany the storytelling. In addition to his work with NATIVE TALK, Brandon teaches and performs music on a variety of instruments and has studied numerous musical traditions from around the world with master performers. Brandon has a deep understanding and knowledge of native plants and is involved with independent research projects. He is a graduate of UCSB with a degree in biology. Brandon has also been known to tell a favorite story of his own once in a while.
Cathleen, Brandon, and Chaz are Luiseño and members of the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians. Through NATIVE TALK they have combined their talents to carry on the family tradition of storytelling. They are dedicated to the preservation of the Luiseño language and culture. They live in San Diego, California. NATIVE TALK was founded in 2002.