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October 7 & 8, 2000
Hahamongna Watershed Park
Pasadena, California

        On October 7 and 8, 2000, NewTown, a consortium of Southern California-based artists, presented "Art InTents," a series of outdoor, site-specific installations by many of the region’s most fascinating visual, sonic, and conceptual artists. The two-day event took place at Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena, California, where the waters of the Arroyo Seco flow from the San Gabriel Mountains into the Los Angeles basin. The area was originally occupied by the Hahamongna village of the Tongva people, which the Spanish, and later American, invaders called the Gabrielino Indians.

Shrine to Louis Sockalexis, 1
Detail of shrine to Louis Sockalexis. (Click to view larger image.)


            In response to the Native American heritage of the area, the Baseball Reliquary created a shrine to Louis Sockalexis on the baseball field at Hahamongna Watershed Park. Born on October 24, 1871 on the Penobscot Indian reservation in Maine, Sockalexis played college and major league baseball just prior to the turn of the 20th century. His story is one of the great, yet typical, tragedies of America’s tarnished relationships with Native Americans. With much justification, author Harry Grayson, in his book They Played the Game: The Story of Baseball Greats (1944), called Sockalexis "the most tragic figure in baseball history."

        The Baseball Reliquary provided both the foundation for the shrine, a three-foot long by four-foot wide wooden pallet, as well as its centerpiece, a vintage photograph of Sockalexis suspended from an upright home plate. The Reliquary also provided materials such as native herbs, plants, animal parts, and feathers so that people visiting the shrine could create their own offering. In addition, the Reliquary encouraged individuals to bring their own related materials to add to the shrine.

Shrine to Louis Sockalexis,2
Centerpiece of shrine to Louis Sockalexis featured dream catcher with photo of the Native American baseball immortal suspended from upright home plate.   (Click to view larger image.)

Shrine to Louis Sockalexis, 3

Boulder used in place of second base, with red rocks and detritus representing southern direction of the Penobscot Nation. (Click to view larger image.)

         Eighty pounds of white and yellow corn meal went into making the medicine wheel that surrounded the shrine.  River boulders taken from the Hahamongna Watershed were used in place of home plate and the bases to represent the four cardinal directions of the Penobscot Nation: white for north, red for south, yellow for east, and blue for west. During the course of the shrine’s construction, several people went around Hahamongna Watershed Park and picked up rocks and detritus, which, based on their color, were added to the shrine’s four directions.

        At the conclusion of the two-day event, the shrine to Louis Sockalexis was carefully dismantled for future traveling exhibitions. The Baseball Reliquary is indebted to NewTown, sponsor of "Art InTents," and to Albert Kilchesty, Kevin Cloud Brechner, and Nancy Hotaling for their assistance and expertise in the conception and implementation of this project.

(Photos courtesy of Larry Goren and Nancy Hotaling.)

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