THROUGHOUT THE AGES
A Living Timeline of the Xolon Salinan People
By: Donna Haro
Coordinator: Petition for Federal Recognition
THROUGHOUT THE AGES is a living timeline that will change on a regular basis. There are so many years and events that should be shared, that it became impossible to chose the most important ones to share in our Tribal Timeline; therefore, I decided to add new time periods every couple of months. I will be featuring different authors, books, articles and reports in each segment. This time I am featuring the time “Before CONTACT” which is the year 1771 for the Xolon People, and the “Mission System,” in the following years.
The writings pertaining to this time period, by Fr. Leo Sprietsma O.F.M., 1988, at San Antonio Mission, will be used in this Timeline. Manuscript can be purchased at the Mission book store.
I think it only fair to also share, that although I am using Fr. Leo’s writings, our People did not have a good relationship with him. It will all be documented with personal stories, letters and newspaper articles in our Petition…but; briefly, he did not like Indian People, and didn’t think that we had a right to claim our Native heritage because we had been assimilated into the Mission system – therefore, there are no longer any “real” Indians at the location of this mission. The truth will be told in the Petition, but right alongside of our People coming against him on several occasions, his own people – the families who worshiped at the Mission Parish – also came against him for his ill will against the Indians of this mission, and petitioned the Monterey Archdiocese for his removal as the O.F.M. at San Antonio. The Archdiocese agreed immediately…and Leo was removed. Thank you to all of you and your own ancestors who have always supported the Xolon Indians. You might not know many of us personally today – but we always hear about your good will and good deeds, and your name spreads quickly amongst our People.
My comments will be italicized.
From 13,000 Years Ago:
Approximately 20 years ago I was working with an Archeological firm that was working for Ft. Hunter Liggett (FHL) preparing a Historical Preservation Plan. When discussing the time period of our People in this area, I was told that they had done carbon dating on a midden site at the Military Base, that came back as showing that our People had been in the area for at least 13,000 years. This seems to be consistent with other California Tribes as well. I have watched documentaries, and read books, that claimed the 13,000 years as well.
1769: Portola's Expedition
Portola expedition in summer of 1769. Twenty-seven were leather-jacket soldiers, and two padres, Fr. Juan Crespi and Fr. Francisco Gomez. Portola, and the Spanish Franciscans and Spanish soldiers, were searching for locations to build the Spanish Missions.
1771: San Antonio Mission (SAM)
Serra founded the San Antonio Mission – And while work was still beginning there, in early July of 1771 he took a mule-train under the protection of a corporal and six soldiers, with the Padres Sitjar and Pieras, three sailors, and two neophyte Indian families from Lower California, and sought out the “Valley of the Oaks” in the Eastern foothills of the Santa Lucias. If you’ve ever been through this Valley of the Oaks near Jolon, CA in July, you know that it is hot at that time of year…
San Antionio Mission is the main one for us, because it was the “Washington, D.C.” of our homeland. Throughout the ages, our ancestors would travel here for special events, or for long-term visits with their families. The entire area – that includes Milpitas – is a beloved place for us to visit.
Rancho Milpitas (Pastor) 43,000 acres Mexican land grant given in 1828, present day known as Jolon Lands
Native People never called themselves “tribes.” I’m not sure where that word came from – probably the government – but we always called ourselves “The People.” Example: My Uncle Gilbert (Boronda) Garcia, one time, when asked where his tribe was from, he said, “Oh…my people are from this area.” My Great Uncle Tim Boronda would also use those words.
Also of importance…we call ourselves “The People of the Oaks,” therefore; it is easy to understand why Fr. Serra would write about the beautiful “valley of the oaks.” Many in our tribal family today, who are on our tribal rolls, (including myself) are related to one of the first Spanish leather-jacket soldiers who came with Serra to our land.
Wikipedia, re “Rancho Los Laureles” confirms this in their statement: “The Boronda family patriarch, Manuel Boronda (1750-1826) accompanied Junipero Serra’s second expedition to Alta California.”
You can find documentation of several of the Boronda brothers at the Boronda Museum in Salinas. Several of the Boronda men married California Indian women – as did my own Great Grandmother, Loretta Robles Boronda. She married Don Jose de los Santos Boronda.
1771 – 1834: Mission Period - approx. 64 years at SAM
It is interesting to reflect that the “Mission Period” of San Antonio Mission (SAM) lasted but some 64 years. A child baptized by Padre Serra or the early Padres Sitjar or Pieras could well have lived through that whole time period and seen both the founding and the secularization of this mission. Many people who come to San Antonio sense that it is one of the ancient Indian power spots.
Those who sense it, though, prefer to keep the secret to themselves or share it with a few trusted friends. There are too many who are power parasites, draining energy which others build and contributing little to the process. Like Stonehenge, or Machu Picchu, or the Pyramids, power is generated in part of the natural forces and in part by the contribution of prayer and work and energy input of those who built the place and those who maintain the process. Mission San Antonio is a place that prefers to be “discovered” and cherished by those who have the capacity to appreciate its presence. References to Leo’s manuscript end here.
1787: Santa Margarita Mission
A small “Branch Mission” was founded here. It was a long distance for the Franciscans to travel between the existing missions at this time, so this branch mission was used for stop overs, as well as other purposes. Our People didn’t talk about this place much, so although it is definitely within our aboriginal territory – it wasn’t visited much by us after the mission period ended.
1791: Soledad Mission
This indeed was a solitary place. One can still feel that solitude when visiting this place. Those who still love the Soledad Mission – who are not Natives – have done an admirable job with the upkeep and renovations. This location was not a happy place for our ancestors. The government decided that it was to be used for incarcerating at least four separate tribal groups. These People were enemies before Contact, so I’m sure that there were a lot of problems all of the time. There were very few of our own People there, though. I have heard stories that a Franciscan was killed there by one of the Indians. There were many escapes planned. Many worked, but many failed – and the individuals were severely punished when they were caught and taken back to the mission.
1797: Mission San Miguel (MSM)
This mission, as well as the San Antonio Mission, are two of the existing missions that our People still enjoy visiting. The entire building, that houses the church, has been beautifully updated after the terrible earthquake that took place there several years ago. It really damaged the church, and I wasn’t sure if they would ever get the financing to complete the work - but they did. We have lots of sad memories about this place…but, as always…we have a “love/hate” relationship with all of the missions in our aboriginal territory.
We have recently (in the past couple of years) been diligently trying to restore part of the Salinan Indian Quarters site that was badly damaged by some construction equipment when new development near the Salinas River began. It was devastating to see the damage. We have also been trying to work with the Franciscans and their lawyers who are in authority over this mission, as well as the Monterey Diocese, but they are refusing to allow us any rights to begin repairing the damage – even though we offered to raise our own funding for this project. We were told by a couple of individuals who are in contact with some of the Diocesan people that this sacred site was going to be sold, and that it would already have been sold if it wasn’t landlocked. Our families have always talked about the location of the MSM as being a huge village site (Cholam) before the mission was built. We have also found evidence – on several separate occasions – of this fact. It would be a wonderful educational site for young people – and others – to understand how the Indians lived in the missions. Prayerfully soon the roadblocks will be removed, and this project can begin.
This is the end of our first Tribal Timeline: Throughout the Ages. Hopefully it has been informative to our readers. Please let us know if the timeline is too long, or too detailed. We want it to be easy to read…but also want it to be factual; hence, the details.