Special art section
When i was coming of age in my reservation community, it seemed like I had a lot to say but not many people who would listen.
In the summer of 2014, I traveled to eight of the twenty-one California missions established by Franciscan priests from Spain during what is now called the Mission Era, 1769–1823.
Much of life is a search for home; a desire to belong. For me, there is no better expression of home than the
foods of my childhood—tacos, burritos, enchiladas, tamales, empanadas, palillis, and the rest—all foods that got passed from the missions through the Indian generations to me.
A Special Supplement
Why do we need to write about the missions? Why do we need to tell stories of unspeak- able pain, suffering, loss, and grief? What good does it do? How does this help contem- porary California Indians embroiled in battles over water rights, mineral rights, right-of- way, unratified treaties, federal recognition, repatriation or honorable treatment of sacred remains, health care, language preservation? How can stories and art about the missions— closed down in 1834!—make this world a better place for our children, grandchildren? Doesn’t this kind of recitation of injustice simply tear off the scabs? Shouldn’t we focus on the future? How can writing and creating artwork about the missions change anything?
Recently, the ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation received a request from a sharp fourth-grader asking about the Native experience in California missions. Here is that letter and our response.
What Do Missions Represent for You?
My daughter entered the fourth grade four years ago. I remember feeling anxious about how her educators might present California mission history to her and her classmates. When the assignments began coming home, I soon realized that the angst I had felt was justified, as the materials hadn’t progressed much since I was in school.
My name is Jacque Tahuka Nunez. I am a ninth-generation descendent of the Rios family. My great-great- grandfather was Feliciano Rios, a leather-jacket soldier who came to California with Father Junipero Serra.
It is our obligation as educators that when visiting the California missions and teaching about California Indian cultures, we ensure that the experiences of Native students are not delegitimized and that the sometimes-painful history of the missions is portrayed with visibility, accuracy, and fairness. This is not solely an issue of teaching students the truth, but also an issue of social justice.
I stood there in an anguished fog of confusion, staring at the wall: how could this be? It was yet another evening with doubt and growing despair creeping into my awareness, on an evening of long ago, that humanity could be so cruel to each other.
When looking at a map of the federally recognized tribes in California, one immediately notices that fewer than five are located on lands once within the reach of the Spanish missions.
In 2009, UC Santa Cruz and the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band began hosting the twice-a-year Amah Mutsun Speaker Series (AMSS). The goal of this speaker series is to address issues that affect our Tribe as well as the native campus community and issues in the larger American Indian population.
Tattoo Traditions of Native North America: Ancient and Contemporary Expressions of Identity, by Lars Krutak.