American Indian Movement Chapter & Allies to Rally Serra Canonization on Easter Sunday

Graves of our ancestors at Carmel Mission

Graves of our ancestors at Carmel Mission

AIM Chapter chooses Carmel because it was Serra’s favorite mission & he is buried there

CARMEL, CALIFORNIA — This year Easter Sunday falls on April 5, and that is the date AIM-Southern California Chapter has appropriately chosen to hold a rally against the proposed canonization of Junipero Serra by the Roman Catholic Church. California Natives, Native organizations, native and non-native friends and supporters will gather at the Carmel Mission, Carmel, California at 1:00 p.m. for a prayer ceremony to denounce Pope Francis’s decision to canonize Serra. The prayer ceremony is intended to pay respects to those California natives buried in mass graves at each of the 21 missions.

Serra directed and founded the mission system in California that reaches from San Diego to Sonoma. These missions were religious and military outposts of Spain, established to colonize and Christianize Native California tribal peoples. The missions were basically prisons for natives where they were treated extremely brutally, with regular beatings, floggings, rapes of women and children. Atrocious crimes were committed against California’s indigenous nations.

Serra - Saint or Monster?

Serra – Saint or Monster?

“We chose Carmel because it was Serra’s favorite mission, and he is buried there. It was from Carmel that he directed and approved the torture and enslavement of natives throughout the rest of the mission system”, said Corine Fairbanks, executive director of AIM-Southern California. “In the late 1980’s, Pope John visited Carmel Mission and talks began about sainthood for Serra. The Catholic Church, nor the Pope, has ever taken the first step toward offering any kind of apology, asking for forgiveness or offered reparations for the past genocide of California Native people. This ceremony is to honor the ancestors. Our ancestors will not be forgotten,” said Fairbanks.

“The canonization of Serra is secondary to the prayer ceremony. There is so much historical trauma and anger already toward the Catholic Church and the mission system, and this decision to give Serra ‘sainthood’ makes those wounds even deeper. But this prayer ceremony is intended to help heal those deep wounds. We want everyone who attends to be mindful of the ceremonial nature, and ask that their behavior reflect this,” explained Ms. Fairbanks.

Unfortunately, the Pope’s decision to give Serra sainthood sends the world a clear statement that the genocide perpetrated upon California native people and the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere was done by “Divine Right” and therefore was justified. The root for this is the Papal Bull of 1493 that moved into the Doctrine of Discovery, which then became Manifest Destiny, the legal justification for taking all Native land in North America. Manifest Destiny was reinforced by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Johnson vs. McIntyre.

Mission at Carmel

Mission at Carmel

The day will begin with a prayer ceremony then a rally will be held denouncing Serra. Some of the speakers will include Marcus Lopez, Sr. (Barbarenos Chumash), Co-Chair of the Barbaraenos Chumash Council, Corrina Gould, (Karkin/Chochenyo Ohlone), Ann Marie Sayers (Coastanoan Ohlone), Pilulaw Khus (Chumash), and others to be determined. People are encouraged to initiate car sharing in your area.

“We have had very good responses, and many people are planning to attend. We have heard from groups of native people and supporters coming from San Diego, San Bernardino, Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Cruz, the Bay area, and even further into Northern California,” said Ms. Fairbanks. “We have planned a meet-up for folks in Thousand Oaks, in northern Los Angeles area. For those interested in meeting here, please contact the Southern California AIM office for the exact address and location”, said Ms. Fairbanks. “It is our hope that this will be just the beginning of events organized at different missions throughout the state by various native communities,” said Fairbanks.


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