Whole Life Magazine

December / January 2015

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city of angels By Abigail Lewis WALKING FOR THE NATIVE AMERICAN ANCESTORS California's indigenous tribes have not forgotten Photos left: courtesy Walking for the Ancestors W hen Pope Francis canonized Father Junipero Serra this past September, many were appalled. Although the Franciscan friar's intentions may have been no- ble, rampant mission abuse of the indigenous people has been well documented. In response to the Pope's conferring of sainthood on their tribal nemesis, Caro- line Ward Holland and her son, Kagen Hol- land, decided to walk the 16 miles her Tat- aviam grandparents had walked into slav- ery from their home in Cascade Junction to the San Fernando Mis- sion. The actual Tataviam village site is now the Magic Moun- tain parking lot. Ultimately the Hollands' walk grew into a 60-day foot pil- grimage to each of the 21 California mis- sions, from Sonoma to San Diego, to honor the ancestors who suf- fered and died in the mission system. With some crowdfunding help along the way, more than 30 intertrib- al Native American Indians were able to participate in various aspects of the 780-mile Walk for the Ancestors 2015. Angeleno Patricia Huff joined the group Oct. 27 near the San Gabriel Mission, and although descended from white im- migrants, was welcomed warmly. Huff was particularly moved by Holland's words, and those of each person who joined them in a ceremonial circle. One spoke of his g r e a t - g r a n d m o t h e r who'd attended a mis- sion school where white children sat up front in chairs, Mexican children sat in the back, and Indi- an children were made to sit on the fl oor. His ancestor also said that although she had escaped attempted rape by a mission priest, others caught try- ing to run away were tied to a tree and wrapped in wet animal skin that suffocated them as it dried. Each person had a heartbreaking story to tell, and every per- son who spoke also wept. As a result of the walk, Holland and other tribal representa- tives have formed a consortium to bring about changes in the way their history is presented at California missions. As P.J. (descended from the Pechanga tribe) noted, "In the stories they have at the different missions, they're talking like [we Native Americans] are in the past. As we all know, we're still here. And we're not going nowhere." 12 wholelifetimes.com

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