SJB Library receives collection of Native American books



Laynee Reyna donates over 300 books and 70 field records for public use.

The Carl M. Luck Memorial Library in San Juan Bautista recently acquired a collection of over 300 books and brochures, as well as over 70 albums of field recordings, all on the subject of Native Americans, as part of a generous donation from the founder and author from Indian Market, Laynee Reyna.

“Laynee called me a month ago and asked if I was interested in the collection,” said Rochelle Eagan, chief library technician. “I almost fell with excitement and said ‘yes please as soon as we can do it here.'”

Reyna is well known in San Juan Bautista as the Founder of the Indian Market, an event hosted by her nonprofit “One Earth One People Peace Vision” that lasted 35 years before ending in 2019. Her donation to the local library is the result of years of bookstore research with her ex-husband Sonne Reyna.

“In my youth, I started collecting Indian craft books,” Reyna said. “But Sonne and I really started collecting after we met and married in 1984. Every time we went to a bookstore we would ask to see their books on or by Native Americans. It was important for us to have the point of view of the indigenous peoples.

Originally, Reyna loaned the books herself from her home. About five years ago, with the help of librarian Leanne Oliveira, she formalized the lending process and put the catalog online for anyone interested in borrowing a title.

From now on, the titles will be kept in the order of the shelves that Reyna has established in her own lending library. The original catalog of the collection, as compiled by Oliveira, is also available for reference.

The more than 300 books will be part of a non-circulating collection, available only at the library.

Eagan reserved dedicated shelves for the collection alongside other books on local and California history, as well as a full set of George Bancroft’s historic 1878 publication “The History of the United States of America,” from the discovery of the American continent ”.

Eagan described Reyna’s gift as a “diverse and unique” curated collection.

“It’s not just books you’ll find at Barnes and Noble or something you’ll get from Time-Life,” Eagan said. “I have never been in a library with so many titles like this. Usually they only have a few token books and we have so many other books here that you never see.

When asked to identify a book that was particularly important to her, Reyna named “Lakota Woman”, a bestseller and winner of the American Book Award 1991. These are the memoirs of Mary Brave Bird, who grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota and remained a Native American activist until her death in 2013.

“She would come and stay in the cabin behind our house,” Reyna said. “She would call us and say ‘Elaine, I have to go out’ and I would take her and her three kids for a month at a time with us. We were adopted by his family and we danced in the sun and went to the ceremony together for six years.

The collection includes two books by Reyna herself, “Longest Night Moon Wolf Dreamer” and “Full moon over Grizzly Bear Island. “

In his review of “Full Moon”, Jim Ostdick, local author of 2017’s “Palomino Nation: My Crazy Walk 2016 Across America, describes the book as “an exciting, imaginative and moving parable of compassionate and measured justice leading to a humble and life-giving redemption”.

Of particular interest are the vinyl recordings that are part of the donation. They include 23 of the 26 albums released by the Indian registers label, and are taken from field recordings Oscar Humphreys made in the 1960s and 1970s. Several albums in the collection are out of print.

Humphreys traveled to reservations to record native singers and musicians there for the powwow. The library has a record player and headphones available for anyone interested in listening, and Eagan has been in discussions with copyright holders to possibly digitize the titles.

The Reyna family also donated several works of art which will be exhibited near the collection. There are two giclées, “Patchwork Pony” by Sonne and “Spirit Walker” by Lanyee. There is also a piece called “Aztec Offrande” given to the Reynas by the Xipe Totec Aztec Dance Group. The group, under the direction of Gerardo Salinas, was a mainstay of the Indian market, performing Aztec dances on traditional drums while wearing “trajes”, feathered outfits and elaborate headdresses.

While the library is still closed to patrons until the fourth stage of the state’s reopening plan, there are plans to hold a dedication ceremony in honor of Reyna and the collection when the state reopens. library. Eagan plans to perform songs and vocals from the records at the event.

“I hope people would come in and find out about the California Indians in particular,” Reyna said. “This world is moving so fast, I would like people to slow down and take the time to learn the stories and histories of indigenous peoples.”

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