May 7, 2014 — On this episode of "Calabasas: A Living History," host Laura Nickerson sits down with author Mary Louise Contini Gordon and former Calabasas Mayor Dennis Washburn
to discuss Gordon's book, "TIQ SLO'W: The Making of a Modern Day Chief," a biography of the late Tataviam/Chumash Chief Charlie Cooke (1935-2013).
Host/Writer: Laura Nickerson
Guests: Mary Louise Contini Gordon, Dennis Washburn
Executive Producer: Deborah Steller
Camera/Editor: Jason Mier
Camera Operators: Karlo Gorgin and Adam Hawley
©2014 The Calabasas Channel
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"TIQ SLO'W" is the ethnographic biography of a Native American Chief, Charlie Cooke, a man who by many counts could not exist. But here Charlie Cooke is: a cowboy, a ranch hand, a rodeo champ, a Korean War veteran, a regular husband and father, and a truck driver. This is a story of ironies, of a man whose ancestral lands were taken and, in some cases, ravaged, of a man whose culture was almost obliterated. It is the story of this very same man who worked tirelessly to preserve these ancestral lands for posterity, for Cooke's descendants and those of the very people who took lands from his forbearers.
TIQ SLO'W, the name by which many know Charlie Cooke, tells of leadership among other Native Americans, anthropologists, civic leaders, State Parks, and National Parks. The leadership and historic perspectives intertwine. Charlie Cooke's style was one of influence. With no positions of note or actual authority in many of the situations in which he found himself, Cooke was and is highly effective and much admired.
The story takes place along the mountainous Southern California coastline and the serene Channel Islands not too far off the coast. Today this area glitters with the wealthy, the movie stars, the tanned beach crowd, and the daring surfers slapping the world-renowned Malibu waves. They, too, enter the story.
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Dr. Mary Contini Gordon cross-walks between the analytical and the creative. Her background makes her a bona fide researcher and an engaging writer. Mary has written stories, plays, and poems since childhood usually for private audiences, but with Charlie Cooke's book, as she calls it, Mary has stepped out into the public sector.
Mary Louise Contini Gordon, Ed.D., holds advanced degrees in theater, TV production, and educational psychology. For a time she produced and developed educational media and hosted a local TV talk show in Thousand Oaks, California. Dr. Gordon encountered Charlie Cooke as a guest on one of her shows. Not long after, she became the executive director of the Hughes Institute for Professional Development, overseeing executive education. Around the same time, she volunteered at a National Park site where Charlie Cooke was a central figure. Mary Gordon observed him in action and was struck by his effective leadership style. She thought to herself then that she would write about him one day.
Dr. Gordon had managed large ethnographic research projects for major corporations, including a book on business anthropology. So she took in stride that Charlie Cooke's book required acquiring, managing, and analyzing massive amounts of narrative data, always with the goals of not losing the spirit that is TIQ SLO'W and immersing the reader in varied scenes across decades and causes. In addition to writing, Dr. Gordon enjoys nature trips with the families of her four children, Greg, Dan, Sara, and Rebecca, who beckon from their homes in different places across North America.
Archived on SCVHistory.com by permission of Dr. Mary Contini Gordon and Arvin Petros, Media Supervisor, City of Calabasas.