Amah Mutsun tribal chairman and elder, Valentin Lopez, and Rick Flores, curorator of the native California plant collection at the UCSC Arboretum shared this wisdom and more with UCSC students, CASFS Apprentices and community members during a special night of Cultivating a Daily Revolution at Kresge College.
The Amah Mutsun are dedicated to protecting mother earth and all of the living things. They pray for balance in the relationships that exist between the plants, bees, birds, soil, and all living things on earth. But first they must relearn their knowledge and heal relationship with one another as a tribal community. Through Wellness Meetinfs and Talking Circles they seek to heal seven generations of historic trauma and re-teach lessons of love, optimism, & self worth, values that have been hindered by the discrimination the Native community faces. Shifting their focus to survival, these families were not able to pass on these lessons.
Despite drawing links to the mission period to Mission San Juan Bautista and Santa Cruz, the Amah Mutsun receive no government assistance. Valentin described one practice exercised by missionaries to lure indigenous peoples to the missions: women would be tied in a chain by their thumbs, then taken to the mission only to be soon followed by children and men Although Mission Santa Cruz’s priests’ were notorious for their cruelty, the U.S. holds that there is no evidence of the Amah Mutsun’s mistreatment by the Catholic church.
While this relationship might be tense, the tribe has successfully partnered with researchers and science to restore health to the bad. Through the discovery of native varieties and explaining traditional land stewardship practice and their history through the translation of historical documents of which there are a ton!
The Amah Mutsun partner with organizations to protect Mother Earth through the new Tribal Land Trust. Partners include the UCSC Arboretum and Pinnacle National Park. Together they re-learn land stewardship practices like when native resources were used to make baskets, homes, food, etc.
Some closing notes:
- Let’s share our stories and our knowledge in talking circles that put us at an equal level with one another while keeping good energy in and bad energy out.
- Let us also remember Native Food Justice in our efforts as we seek to achieve balance in all our interactions.
FoCAN, CASFS, and UCSC would like to extend all of our thanks and heartfelt appreciation to Valentin and Rick!