Amah Mutsun Tribe to hold Prayer Ceremony and Protest against Junipero Serra

Amhan MutsunPrayer ceremony & protest set for Saturday at San Juan Bautista Mission

SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, CALIFORNIA— On Saturday, July 11, 2015, the Amah Mutsun Tribal Nation will hold a prayer ceremony and protest against the canonization of Juniero Serra at the San Juan Bautista Mission in San Juan Bautista, California.

The event begins at 9:00 am and ends at 5:00pm. The prayer ceremony and rally takes place in front of the Mission, and those who attend are advised to be prepared for the heat. Bring sunscreen, hats, lawn chairs (the grass is dry and hard due to the drought) and water. Lunch will be provided by the tribe and water will be available throughout the day.

Serra - Saint or Monster?

Serra – Saint or Monster?

The program will begin with a welcome and blessing by Mutsun Tribal Chairman Valentin Lopez and Vice Chairman, Paul Mondragon. Traditional Mutsun dancers and singers are scheduled to perform as well as traditional Miwok dancers.  Mutsun Muwis Mak (women singers) will offer songs toward the end of the day’s events. Louise Ramirez, Tribal Chairwoman of the Ohlone Costanoan-Esselen Nation is scheduled to speak, as well as Mutsun Chairman Valentin Lopez. Noted writer Elias Castillo, author of “A Cross of Thorns” will deliver his thoughts about the history of Serra and the proposed sainthood by the current Pope. Former Catholic priest, Mathew Fox, author and educator will speak about his experiences and his opinions regarding sainthood. Dr. Donna Shindler, Mutsun Tribal psychiatrist and expert on historic trauma is also scheduled to speak. She has been working with the Mutsun tribe for two years, and has fifteen years experience in the area of historic trauma. Dr. Shindler has developed deep insight into its effect generationally. Dr. Lisbeth Haas, author of several books about the Chumash Tribe and a professor of History at UC Santa Cruz is also scheduled to present.

“This issue is extremely important to all California Indian Tribes. Most non-natives don’t know that the only place we had to live for many decades was on the several ranches where the owner’s were sympathetic to our plight. They let us stay on their property seasonally and when we needed a place to go,” said Valentin Lopez, tribal chairman.

“The San Juan Bautista Mission had the highest death rate of any mission in the system. 19, 421 Indians died at the San Juan Bautista Mission alone. Mission life was brutal and violent, and the true history of the impact of California missions on indigenous people has never been told truthfully. The last padre of the Mission system, Presidente Mariano Panyeras actually wrote that, ” All we have done is baptize and bury the Indians. We will be judged by this,” explained Chairman Lopez.

“Nothing has ever been said about the deaths, enslavements, beatings, rapes, and torture. The public has never been told the truth. It is unacceptable to our tribe that Serra be considered a Saint”.

The Amhan Mutsun endured two generations of the Mission system, beginning in 1797-1833. They then went through the period when Mexican nationals were given large land grants by the Mexican government, from 1823-1848. Because they had no one to work their ranches, the California tribes were once again rounded up and forced to work as laborers for these landowners. The next period was the American era, statehood, and the California gold rush, beginning in 1848. Executive orders legalizing kidnapping of youth and young adults (both women and men), selling them as slaves, paying for scalps taken, murder and genocidal policies became the norm for California’s native tribes. “We have endured five to six generations of trauma. This means that parents, grandparents and more could not pass on to their children tribal information, language, dances, songs, what it means to be a Mutsun”, said Chairman Lopez. “We would like the truth to be known regarding our history. That is important for healing not only us, but the entire state of California. When this doesn’t happen, the state and the people of California collude with perpetrators by continuing the lies,” said Chairman Lopez.

For more information and directions to San Juan Bautista Mission go to

Nanette Bradley Deetz is of Dakota, Cherokee and German descent. She is a poet, writer, educator and sometimes musician whose poetry appears in several anthologies. The most current is “Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down,” published by Scarlett Tanager Press; “Turtle Island to Abya Yala, A Love Anthology of Art and Poetry by Native American and Latina Women,” Malinalli Press, and “Alameda Island Theme Poems, 2004,2005 & 2006.” She combines poetry and music in her band, Redbird Giving which performs at many Bay Area native and non-native venues. She is a correspondent for the Alameda Journal and Native News Online.


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