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By Miriam Raftery

January 16, 2016 (Borrego Springs) - The non-profit Anza-Borrego Desert History Association (ABDNHA) in Borrego Springs announces a special two day program entitled “California Dreamin’: The Immigration and Migration History of California” to be held in Borrego Springs on January 29 and 30. This two day event will bring together a best-selling author, an anthropologist, a historian, and a genetic anthropologist to tell the full story of movement over time into what is now known as the Golden State.

The program begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 29 with “An Evening with Victor Villaseñor”, author of the bestselling book “Rain of Gold” as well as eight other novels, and more than 60 short stories.  Victor will tell the personal story of his family over several generations as they moved from Mexico into the United States.  This program will be conducted at the Borrego Springs Performing Arts Center, 590 Palm Canyon Drive.  All seats are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.  There is no charge for ABDNHA members, all others are $10 at the door.

Programs on Saturday January 30 will be held in the ABDNHA library, 652 Palm Canyon Drive and space is limited. The day begins with “Californians: The First Humans” by anthropologist and Professor Manfred Knaak, telling the story of the people who moved into and through California before the Spanish arrived.   History professor Mary Jo Moore will then speak about the immigration history of California from the days of the Spanish to the present day. The program concludes with an evening presentation by genetic anthropologist Amy Non, who will speak about genetic research and how it is uncovering the story of early human migration.  Preregistration is required for these programs and space is limited.  Register online or call 760-767-3098.

Additional information about this program is available online: , or by contacting Mike McElhatton, Program Director, The Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, 760-767-3052, P O BOX 310, Borrego Springs, CA 92004.

Victor Villaseñor is a best-selling author, San Diego native, and North County resident. He has produced 65 short stories and 9 novels, including highly-recognized national bestsellers, Rain of Gold and Burro Genius. His books are used in schools and college-level classes, and his children’s books teach life lessons for people of all ages. Victor Villaseñor is an engaging speaker who focuses on universal themes. In his program tonight he tells the personal story of his family as the opening segment of ABDNHA's special California History session "The Californians: Where did we all come from?  The history of immigration and migration from prehistoric time to the present."

Villaseñor’s acclaimed written works, as well as his inspiring lectures, have earned him numerous awards and endorsements, including the Founding John Steinbeck Chair appointment. A gifted and accomplished speaker, Victor Villaseñor, in his candid and heartfelt manner, brings a fresh perspective to a number of universal themes, including pride in cultural heritage, the strength of family, dedication to education and personal achievement, the power of the written word, world harmony and peace.

*Important Note:  Space is limited and available on a first come first serve basis for Villaseñor’s lecture.

The lecture is free to ABDNHA members, $10 all others, paid at door only. 

Registration for the Saturday programs does not register you for a seat at the Friday night lecture. 


Program 1

Jan. 30, Sat., 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. 

California: The First Humans  

Presenter: Manfred Knaak

ABDNHA Library






Program 2 Jan. 30, Sat., 10:4

5 a.m. - 1:45 p.m. 

(with break for lunch)

Migration and Immigration: The History of California

Presenter: Mary Jo Wainwright

ABDNHA Library

Join California History Professor Mary Jo Wainwright as she tells the story of California's history in terms of immigration and migration.  Over the years, the California Dream has taken many different forms

.  For many, the dream has been the land itself, for farming, vineyards, dairy, and ranching.  For others it was gold; and then it was oil.  With America's westward expansion and the first continental railroad it was the promise of jobs that pulled people to California. For others it was the opportunities of expanded trade and commerce that the railroad brought with it.  Hollywood and the movie industry then carried the vision of the California lifestyle to millions around the world and before long, California came to represent sunshine, a free spirit, and an open road to the future, the very essence of America itself.  It was natural that then new technologies of Silicon Valley were born in California.

California's residents come from within the United States and from throughout the world.  Los Angeles is considered to be the most ethnically diverse city in America, with San Diego and San Francisco making it into the top ten.  Although immigration from Mexico gets much of the news coverage, more than 50% of new arrivals have come from Asia in some recent years. 

Program 3

Jan. 30, Sat., 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. 

Genetic Research and the Story of Early Human Migration

Presenter: Amy Non, Ph.D.

ABDNHA Library


Dr. Non is a molecular anthropologist with a wide background of research, scientific writing, and teaching, at Vanderbelt University and now UCSD, where she is a professor of Anthropology. 

For this final program in our series, we go far back in time, hundreds of thousands of years before the first human ever stepped into the place we know as California.  It is a fascinating story that reveals how humans have been on the move since the earliest days of our existence.   Migration is truly in our genes. Dr. Non will explain how genetic research is helping us to track the pathways of very early human migration.  

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