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California Historical Society envisions series focused on California Indian Nations and Peoples

California Historical Society envisions series focused on California Indian Nations and Peoples

In the wake of the canonization of Father Junipero Serra, a November meeting resulted in an agreement to honestly portray impacts the Mission system, Mexican period, and early American period had on the Indigenous nations and peoples in California.

As part of the agreement between the Romero Institute, Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the California Historical Society, the historical society is slated to host a speaking series that specifically addresses Native perspectives when discussing early California history.

The CHS planned to sponsor a program featuring Catholic writers discussing Serra’s positive role in the Mission system earlier this year, but cancelled it when letters of protest came from the above parties and others. Protests and press conferences persisted throughout the country in September urging Pope Francis to not canonize Serra because of the slavery, beatings, rapes, and deaths of hundreds of Indians in his Mission system.

“We have to tell the truth about what has been done to our people in all the eras,” said Val Lopez, Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band.

Lopez says the effects of the Mission system’s dominance and trauma continue to this day.

“The worst of it is that the humanity of our ancestors has never been acknowledged by the dominant society. Our families, our children, our identity and our pride in our identity have been ignored by the State of California,” said Lopez. “The path toward healing begins with the truth, and the CHS can play a very important role in this regard.”

Romero Institute executive director Sara Nelson says the willingness of the CHS to incorporate the California Indian perspective means reconciliation is possible.

“The true California Indian story should be present in all California history, and the marginalization of the Indian peoples will morph into acknowledgment, respect and appreciation for their wisdom and knowledge from thousands of years of sustainable living,” said Nelson.

The CHS says they are in the process of developing the program series.

The meeting included CHS Executive Director Anthea Hartig, Public Event Director Tarea Smith, Program Manager Kathy Young, and Program Coordinator Patty Phorte. Valentin Lopez, Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, Daniel Sheehan and Sara Nelson from the Romero Institute (representing the Indian Canyon Nation and other concerned parties). Malcolm Margolin from Heyday Books Publishing Company also attended the meeting.

Contact Matthew, Press Director at 831-459-6135 for more information. 

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