(Blog updated on a regular basis)
By: Donna Haro
Traditional Tribal Headwoman
* Creator God Watches over His Children of the Oaks *
Since I have never written for a website-blog, there will probably be changes to the format as we go along. My goal here is to provide educational information and stories for all ages. I receive many requests to speak to children of all grade levels; and, I have done that for several years. Now, however, I am not able to do that anymore, so we thought it would be a good thing to provide interesting information-stories for everyone who would like to learn more about the history of Xolon Salinan People. I hope you enjoy it.
I am sharing information about something that happened to some of my People many years ago. Two professionals who are on our team – Karen Fontanetta, our Tribal Cultural Resources Consultant, and Dr. Craig Goralski, Professor of Anthropology at Cypress College in Orange County, have been doing further research, and discovering more fascinating things related to this “Case.” I call it a “Case” because there is a horrific murder of several of our precious People in about 1877, and it needs investigation, to try to find out exactly what happened!
Reinstedt, Randall A. – 1977 The first recorded History of Monterey’s Mother Lode (Formerly Gold in the Santa Lucias) There are also other newspaper articles and other writings about this terrible massacre, which we will be adding into our Petition for Federal Recognition.
For many years, our People have told this story - about a violent event that had taken place many years ago. Over 30 of our Xolon men murdered and their bodies tossed into a cave. We never knew the exact timing of this event, but that it happened a long time ago – estimated in this book as happening approximately in 1877.
The details in this book by Reinstedt and our own oral histories about the horrible event are very close. We were told, that it happened in a cave near Arroyo Seco,* and that there was another body in that cave, belonging to a European. We were also told that there was a shirt or jacket button found lying near this body, and that it could not have belonged to one of the Natives, since it was a military button. Our families had identified this button as belonging to an American Calvary Soldier. Mr. Reinstdt states the belief that it belonged to a Spanish Soldier. If this event did happen in around 1877, it could not have been a Spanish Soldier, because they were not in charge of the territory at that time. This was during the time of the Gold Rush.
There are many theories in the book, regarding who the lone non-Indian might have been; but there was no solid identification, since American and Spanish Soldiers were mostly Europeans. I have not included all of the theories about what might have happened, but if you are interested, perhaps you can find the book and try to find out what you think.
I received this information about 30 years ago, from individuals who worked for the Los Padres Division of the National Forest Service; I was not given the entire book, but only the portion that pertained to gold mining in our territory – and that of the Santa Lucias. Santa Lucia Peak, known to our ancient People as where the beginning of the world, as we knew it, took place. Our Creation Story begins there.
Our People obviously did not call it Santa Lucia Peak, nor Serra Peak; we had a name for it in our own language. Soon we will be revealing that name, and at that time, we will file a Petition to rename it in our aboriginal Xolon language.
This information will also be included in our Petition for Federal Recognition. The very hard work on this Document is almost complete. It is a very strong Petition, and our Tribal Rolls are completely accurate with the method that we are using to establish each Tribal Member – which has been approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Every person who is on our Roll can be documented back to the 1928/1852 California Indian Roll requirements. Some of the People can connect to the founding of the San Antonio Mission in 1771, others can connect to the Mission San Miguel in 1792…and others, like my own family and myself can connect to both of the Missions.
After we receive our Federal Recognition, we will begin our journey to find out more about this Cave Massacre, and what happened to the remains of our People. Were they left there, and the cave sealed up once again? Were they taken to a museum somewhere…or…as has happened many times throughout the decades, were the bones gathered up and dumped into a hole in the earth somewhere, and covered up with soil… never to be found again? We will not rest until these innocent family member’s remains are found, and respectfully returned to the earth near other family members. Only then will they be at peace.
*Human Remains have also been discovered in caves at Arroyo Seco, and some have been stolen from their place of rest – where they were buried. This a story for another time.