November 2011
Pocahontas and John Smith
Tortoise Tales: Newsletter of the Hi-Desert
Nature Museum 

Agate Sphere Black

 Museum Donation 

The museum received a generous donation of geologic spheres from the Estate of Joseph Peter Henz, from 29 Palms.  Joseph Henz and his wife, Maggie, were long-time supporters of the museum.  Joseph collected the rocks, and then cut and polished them in his workshop, making the spheres a lifetime hobby and labor of love.  We would like to thank Al and Susan Kinzinger for their assistance with this donation.

Winter Lecture Series

"Ice Age Fossils from Las Vegas" Mammoth

During the Pleistocene Epoch, North America was populated by an amazing variety of large mammals including mammoths, ground sloths, giant lions, horses, camels, and bison.  Here in the southwest, fossils of these animals are well known - and one of the richest sites in the region is located practically in our Las Vegas, Nevada!  The deserts around Las Vegas have long been explored for ancient fossil remains, but recent studies by the San Bernardino County Museum are changing how we view the Ice Age in this region.  What animals once lived and died here?  Do we know why these ancient behemoths went extinct?  Did early humans co-exist with these great beasts?  Eric Scott, Curator of Paleontology at the San Bernardino County Museum, will address these and many other fascinating questions.  (Rescheduled from July)
Thursday, November 17, starting at Noon
FREE to the public, and coffee will be served
Yucca Valley 20th Anniversary Celebration! Town Anniversary Logo
Yucca Valley will celebrate 20 years as an incorporated municipality with an Open House at Town offices.  The public is welcome and encouraged to drop in and learn more about the work of local government.
* Meet Town Staff
* Tour Town Offices & Facilities
* General Plan Update Sessions
* "How Well Do you Know Yucca Valley" Game
* Light Refreshments
* Anniversary Souvenirs
* Reception at Town Council Meeting (6:00 pm)
Tuesday, November 15
Town Hall, Community Services, Hi-Desert Nature Museum,
Community Development/Public Works, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
YV Animal Shelter, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Paradise Park, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Click here to view a full schedule of events and tour map
Science Saturdays 
Join us for days of discovery during Science Saturdays.  These programs will ignite your children's curiosity by presenting information and performing experiments relating to biological and physical sciences.  All programs will be facilitated by our Museum Educator.  It is recommended that children be of school age for this program.
11:00 - 11:30 a.m.
FREE! No pre-registration required
November 5: Harmful and Helpful Bacteria
November 19: Physics
December 10: Topic to be Announced
Holiday Craft Programs Christmas Craft Girl
Adult Craft Program
Monday, December 5, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Take some time out of your hectic holiday schedule and enjoy an afternoon at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum making crafts for friends and family while you sip a relaxing cup of tea.
Kids Craft Program
Saturday, December 17, 11:00 a.m. - Noon
Join us for craft fun!  Make a holiday-themed craft to keep or to give as a gift. 
FREE, and materials provided, but space is limited.
Pre-registration required for both craft programs.
Please call (760) 369-7212 to reserve your space or register online
Season of Light Holiday Exhibition Season of Light
December is a time when people all over the world celebrate holidays.  Learn about the different customs of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Bodhi Day.  Discover the history and origins of the different holidays.  Visit this exhibition to help celebrate and enjoy the season! 
On Display November 12 - December 22
Pocahontas and John Smith John Smith
Captain John Smith (1580-1631) was an English soldier, explorer and author.  He is remembered for his role in establishing the first permanent English settlement in North America at Jamestown, Virginia.  He was leader of the Virginia colony 1608-1609, and led an exploration along the rivers of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay.  Smith's books and maps encouraged more Englishmen to colonize the New World, including the pilgrims who came over on the Mayflower.  Pocahontas, daughter of a Powhatan chief, is famously linked to John Smith.  In December 1607, while seeking food along the Chickahominy River, Smith was captured and taken to meet the Powhatan chief.  Although he feared for his life, Smith was eventually released without harm and later attributed this to Pocahontas, who according to Smith, threw herself across his body (1870 depiction shown at top of newsletter).  Scholars have questioned Smith's version of events, but the story has passed into legend.  Pocahontas converted to Christianity and married English settler John Rolfe, changing her name to Rebecca Rolfe.  In 1616, she traveled with John Rolfe to England as a symbol of the tamed New World "savage."  John Smith wrote to Queen Anne, urging her to treat Pocahontas with respect, and she was presented throughout England as a princess.  In 1617, Rolfe and Pocahontas boarded a ship to return to Virginia, but Pocahontas became gravely ill and was taken ashore where she died in John Rolfe's arms at the age of 22.  It is unknown what caused her death, but theories include smallpox, pneumonia and tuberculosis.  She had one son with John Rolfe, Thomas Rolfe, and through him many descendants of Pocahontas live today.
Did You Know?
* Colonists in Jamestown used special candles made of uniform width and marked with equal bands to tell time.  As the flame melted the wax, each melted band indicated that an hour had passed.
* A dress in colonial times contained up to 18 yards of fabric, and could be as valuable as a mini-van is today.
* Up until the age of six, young boys had long hair and wore dresses.
* Colonists only bathed a couple of times a year.
* Before 1775 there was no postal service, so letters were simply passed hand-to-hand as people traveled about the colonies, until they reached the recipient.
Follow Us on Twitter!
Twitter Logo
The museum is now on Twitter!  Follow us @HiDesertMuseum to get up to the minute information on programs and exhibits, and receive fun facts
related to science, history, art and culture.
 the Museum
Museum Logo

The museum has launched two fundraising campaigns to enable us to continue providing quality educational programs and exhibitions for residents and visitors.  Help preserve our local history, art, culture, and natural science by becoming a museum member, or buy a brick in the entry way of the museum with your personalized engraved inscription.  Information on these programs is available at the museum's reception desk or on our web site.
The Hi-Desert Rockhounds of Morongo Valley became Business Level Members this month.  Visit their site and learn more about their programs and activities. 
Gecko Gift Shop
Mad Gabs

If you are looking for unique gift items come to the Gecko Gift Shop at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum.  We carry a variety of desert-themed novelties, books, apparel, and souvenirs.  The gift shop also offers a selection of educational toys and games and beautiful jewelry and art created by local artists.
We recently received a stock of Mad Gab's products.  Stop by and check it out!
Remember...Museum Members get a 10% discount

Tis the Season

of Giving 

Mara Cantelo TLC
Mara Cantelo, TLC

As Thanksgiving approaches, please take a moment to say thank you to the many non-profit organizations in the Morongo Basin working to make our community a better place to live.  From Tender Loving Christmas (TLC) to the Boys and Girls Club, and from Morongo Basin Mental Health Services to Family Services Association, we are fortunate to have so many agencies working tirelessly on our behalf.  This holiday season please support their work with a donation or volunteer your time to help a worthy cause.  And remember, if you have a hard-to-shop-for person on your list, a donation in their name to a favorite charity is a wonderful way to say "Happy Holidays."

Visit the Museum
The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is located in the Yucca Valley Community Center Complex at 57116 Twentynine Palms Highway.  The museum is open Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Admission is free; donations support the educational mission of the museum.  The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is operated by the Town of Yucca Valley. 

For more information on our programs and events contact the Hi-Desert Nature Museum at (760) 369-7212 or see our web site at 


To view a full schedule of Yucca Valley events, sports programs, and recreation classes visit the Town's web site at