Calling all K-12 Teachers Across the U.S.! Don’t Miss Your Chance to Explore California’s Past While Participating in a Fantastic NEH Workshop
Happy Holidays & Happy Trails to All Blog Readers!
This special guest post will be of interest to K-12 teachers who are looking for an exciting opportunity in July of 2013 to gain new insights into California’s past and to visit key sites, including Spanish and Native American missions of California’s Central Coast. If you are a K-12 teacher, read on. And if you know a teacher who could be interested, please send them a link to this post!
Early in the New Year, we’ll be posting more about our 2013 plans for The California Mission Ride from Mission San Miguel to Mission San Diego de Alcalá. We hope to begin the 2013 journey on Mission San Miguel’s fiesta day in September. Check back soon for more about our schedule and the unique events that are shaping up along the mission trail.
The 14th Colony: An NEH Summer Workshop for K-12 Teachers
By Ruben Mendoza, Jewel Gentry, and Jennifer Lucido
We are presently recruiting a diverse cohort of eighty K-12 teachers from across the country to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop for School Teachers, K-12. Teachers selected for this NEH workshop devoted to studying California’s Spanish colonial missions will receive a $1200 stipend for their stay on the Monterey Bay, and will be afforded opportunities for professional development, collegial interaction, and access to fellow educators.
The Swiss Rifle Club is the oldest rifle club in America, founded by a group of immigrants from Switzerland’s Canton Ticino in 1900. Our host there was club member Peter Andreson, who introduced us to the Brown Bess Musket. Pete explained that these flintlock muskets were of British origin (used for nearly a hundred years during the expansion of the British Empire) and employed in California up through the mid-nineteeth century. He showed us how the musket is loaded with gunpowder, which has to be packed down with a special tool, and then how the ammunition is dropped into the barrel. He said that a good soldier would be able to load and shoot the musket three times in one minute.
Riders and crew of the California Mission Ride have ‘passports’ for the journey. At each mission along the way, we collect stamps or signatures in the passports. (See our earlier blog entry with a note from Martha López suggesting that we use a travel credential of this kind.)
Below is a picture taken yesterday, when our passports were stamped in Soledad. We’re about to saddle up to head to Mission San Antonio de Padua, and then from there on to Mission San Miguel — our last two missions for the 2012 ride!
Suzanne Pierce Taylor is a Salinan Indian Edler whose writings include a book entitled The Ancestors Speak. She has ties to several California missions, especially Mission San Antonio de Padua, and has been working for many years as a genealogist tracing family trees of Salinans to assist her tribe in its effort to gain federal recognition.
Could you tell us about the ancestral homeland of the Salinan Indians? Which area does it cover, and how many Salinans live there today?
The Tribal boundary south is Cuesta Grade, west to Pacific ocean, (we share Morro Rock with the Chumash as a sacred place), north to Dolan Rock below Big Sur, eastward below Soledad, then southeast to Painted Rock on the Carrizo Plains.
We did a count that showed over 80% of Tribal members live either in or within 70 miles of the homeland.
How long have the Salinan people been on this land? And how many different groups exist now within the tribe?
Scholars say that the Salinan people have been in the area 6,000 years and belong to the Hokan language group, one of the oldest in California. The Salinan language was divided into three dialects: Antoniano, around Mission San Antonio. Migueleno around Mission San Miguel and Playano spoken on the coast. These three, even though different, shared the same Hokan base so communicated easily.
Jewel Gentry is a Senior in the Integrated Studies program at California State University Monterey Bay, where for his Special Major he’s chosen to focus on Archaeology under the direction of Professor Rubén Mendoza. President of The Society Of Student Archaeologists at CSUMB, Jewel is interested in both the Native Californian and Filipino periods of contact with the Spanish. He has recently been working on a project called Digital Preservation and Mapping of the California Missions. We’re very happy that Jewel could find some time at this busy start of the new academic term to tell us what he finds most interesting about his work at Mission San Juan Bautista and beyond.
“Speechless” isn’t the word to describe the depth of wonder I felt as Dr. Mendoza explained to me that several of the California Missions were built to interact with the light of the rising sun. Even after he showed me multiple images, there was a part of me that needed to see it in person and, finally, on a brisk December morning, I witnessed something amazing.
INTERVIEW: Michael Muir, Champion Horseman & Founding Director of Access Adventure – “Challenging the Limits of Disability”
MICHAEL MUIR, born in 1952, is the great-grandson of conservationist, philosopher, and Sierra Club Founder John Muir. At age 15, Michael learned he had Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, a disease that causes degeneration of the nervous system. Instead of being defeated by the diagnosis, he was emboldened to set out on new adventures, and to help people of limited mobility to explore new terrain, both out in nature and within themselves. At the center of Michael’s extraordinary story is the horse. Or rather, horses. Lots of them.
Horses have played a starring role in your life. Did your love for them begin with one horse in particular?
The day I was born (March 18, 1952) my family had already acquired a famously cantankerous Shetland/Thoroughbred cross pony that I grew up with. We also went on annual pack trips in the High Sierras with horses and mules. I was particularly taken with an Appaloosa named “Dan.”
You were diagnosed with MS at age 15. How were you involved with horses until then?
In 1965 at the age of 13, I acquired the first horses of my own. I sold sheep from my 4-H project and bought a pregnant Appaloosa mare with a filly by her side. My second mare was also in foal with a filly at foot. My breeding career was already in full swing during high school.
INTERVIEW: Martha Ann Francisca Vallejo-McGettigan, Descendant of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Period Clothing Specialist, Scriptwriter
Martha Ann Francisca Vallejo-McGettigan is the great-great-granddaughter of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. She lives in Pope Valley, California, not far from the state’s northernmost mission, and the mission town whose history Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo would transform: Sonoma. We interviewed Martha Vallejo McGettigan to hear from her directly about members of the Vallejo family, and to learn about her own life in California today.
Your great-great-grandfather, General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, was an immensely influential figure in the history of California. Is he equally influential in your family today?
Somehow I feel that I am the torchbearer at this time. A close cousin, Earl “Duke”
Douglass, is an historian in his own right and when I do scripts, especially, I have him review for comments and accuracy. Other cousins are active in the historical societies in San Francisco, as is my older brother, and my younger brother was greatly influenced by Napoleon, the General’s youngest son. If I do big events, I try to include and/or at least notify as many relatives as I can. One of the most recent events, in terms of closeness to this generation, was the christening and then the decommissioning of the USS Mariano G. Vallejo (SSBN 658) – the last of the ”41 for Freedom” nuclear submarines – where many descendants gathered.
How has Mariano G. Vallejo’s legacy shaped your own life?
His life has led me on a journey I had not envisioned. I grew up a classical clarinetist and my life was immersed in orchestra and music. There was a bump in that road and to fill the void, I turned to dancing and vaudeville musicals in the Gold Country. This was an eighteen-year period evolving into choreographer, director and producer. One day, my father said “Why don’t you use Mother’s music” for my choreography and dances? This was referring to his mother, Francisca Vallejo McGettigan’s collection of music works (the General’s granddaughter). That was my turning point and I have been focused on the history of the family and California since then, setting my lectures and presentations to her music exclusively.
Dr. Rubén Mendoza is Director of the Institute for Archaeological Science, Technology, and Visualization at California State University, Monterey Bay. He is an influential scholar, a much-loved professor, and a tireless explorer of past eras whose work has earned him numerous awards, honors, and major grants. Dr. Mendoza’s expertise ranges far in time and space, with notable research conducted in California, the Southwest, and throughout Mesoamerica. At the California missions alone, he has led major investigations in Soledad, Carmel, San Miguel, and San Juan Bautista, where he also serves as the mission’s Curator. Read our interview of Dr. Mendoza to discover more about his extraordinary life and work, and a bit about mission “ghosts” as well!
How did you decide to become an archaeologist?
My interest in becoming an archaeologist was first kindled in grade school as the result of a 4thgrade fieldtrip from Fresno, California, to Old Mission San Juan Bautista and Monterey. During that excursion, my interest in early California history was born. I saw ancient buildings, cowboys on horseback, and Indians afoot in the Plaza [of San Juan Bautista], not to mention my first ever sighting of the Pacific Ocean with its marine life. Upon returning from that field trip to San Juan Bautista, I developed an unusual obsession with tracking down and reading history magazines devoted to the old West. Before that time, I had little interest in school, and as there was little in the way of reading materials in my childhood home, I didn’t have much of an interest in reading either.
San Juan Bautista, as such, awakened in me an intense interest in historic photographs and stories about Cowboys and Indians, and this in turn led me to build a scale model replica of the Old Mission community in the form of twenty-two wooden buildings crafted from tomato boxes collected in the alleys and landfills of Bakersfield, California. Each of the diminutive buildings was fully furnished, and detailed to approximate what I remembered of the Old Mission town. Some three years later, a chance trip to Mexico City and the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan, Mexico redirected my interest in California history into one devoted almost entirely to the art history and architecture of ancient Mexico and the US Southwest.
Today my friend Daniel Aaron turns 100. While I already started thinking of him as being “around 100” a few years ago, now it’s official.
Dan has led a remarkable life. He was born in Chicago and grew up in Los Angeles. He later moved to the East Coast, where he was the first person to earn a PhD in American Civilization from Harvard. He went on to become a Harvard professor and an influential founder of the Library of America, which has published hundreds of outstanding editions of classic works by Americans, or about America. Including plenty by authors who flourished in California, from Jack London and John Steinbeck to Raymond Chandler and Philip K. Dick.
Among the many books that Dan has authored or edited is his autobiography, The Americanist, published 5 years ago. Soon after, at age 98, Dan was named a National Humanities Medalist. He still has an office in Harvard’s Department of English and American Literature and Language, where nearly every day he continues to settle down to work on various projects, including a dictionary of words that he thinks should exist in English but don’t (yet).
When I first mentioned The California Mission Ride to Dan, it prompted him to remember his early days in Los Angeles, and the plethora of horses that moved about freely, in spite of some automobiles that had begun to show up and compete with them for roadway space. Dan also recalled that, when he first studied at Harvard, the eminent historian Samuel Eliot Morison was still commuting to campus on his horse.
Once I asked Dan which American president of his lifetime he most admired. He instantly said “Teddy Roosevelt.” I was taken aback, partly because when I asked him this question, Dan didn’t seem nearly as old as he was: 84. After all, around that time, we would go cycling together on weekends, and Dan would easily cover 30+ miles on his three-speed, its tiger-head handlebar grips adorned with a bunch of lightweight orange plastic strips dangling from the tigers’ mouths. I assumed he misunderstood the question. Maybe he thought I was asking about his favorite U.S. president of all time? “I mean someone who was president during your lifetime.” He calmly said it again: “Teddy Roosevelt.” But the name wasn’t sinking in. “Franklin Delano Roosevelt?” Dan just said, “No, no, Teddy. Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. When I was a child, all that my friends and I wanted was to be Rough Riders and join up with Teddy Roosevelt to go on adventures. There hasn’t been a president like him since.” Continue reading
John Grafton is a docent at the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park, where he has a special interest in the history of California horse culture. He also uses an unusual, hands-on style to explore the past. We interviewed Mr. Grafton to find out more about his background, his workshop approach to history, and how he views horses and tack of the early American West. We also asked him about historical inaccuracies in Hollywood Westerns.
While visiting San Juan Bautista, I’ve heard you referred to as “The Canadian Cowboy.” Could you tell us a little about your background?
I was born in Boise, Idaho to cattle-ranching parents who ran cattle in Oregon in the Jordan Valley area. We moved up to the central interior area of British Columbia, Canada, where my parents continued to raise cattle. I worked for various cattle companies in B.C. until I joined the Peace Corps, and was sent down to Ecuador, South America, where I worked in large animal production for nearly four years. Upon returning to North America I followed a career in law enforcement in Sacramento, CA, where I became a docent at CA State Parks Historic Site of Sutter’s Fort. Staff and docents there encouraged me to do Californio interpretation because of my background in cattle ranching, and experience in Latin American culture. I retired from law enforcement, and went on to travel, and stay for periods of time, in Mexico, primarily with the rancheros of lower Baja California. I moved to Monterey County where I now live, and continue to work at various historic sites.
ANN MARIE SAYERS, Tribal Chair of Indian Canyon in Hollister, California, is also an Ohlone Indian storyteller. She lives in Indian Canyon. At its entrance is the site of the traditional village where her ancestors thrived some 4,500 years ago, long before the arrival of Spanish missionaries, long before homesteaders of European descent pressed West for land to claim as their own, and long before California, as a new state within the U.S., sought to rid Coastal California of its Indian population. “We are still here,” she says. Existence, survival, recognition, the earth as mother, honoring ancestors, tribal language and culture. These are among the intense subjects that braid through Ann Marie Sayers’s daily life.
You live in Indian Canyon. Could you tell our Trail Blog readers about this place and its setting? What makes it unique?
Indian Canyon is the only federally recognized “Indian Country” for 300 miles along coastal California . It is still inhibited by the descendants of the original people. This canyon served as a safe haven for many of the native peoples who did not like the restrictions at Mission San Juan Bautista. And today, as well, it serves as a safe haven for all indigenous people in need of traditional land for ceremony. What makes this canyon unique are the ancestral spirits that are here. You can feel all the life that surrounds you and the water that flows down the waterfall and through the canyon. It is the ceremonies that take place that attract California Condors, positive energy, and all life is vibrant and sacred.
You are an Ohlone storyteller who remains grounded in the traditions of your ancestors. How did you learn to be a storyteller? Did someone in particular pass down traditional stories or songs to you?
I have always been around storytelling, let it be telling stories or learning from stories, it is not something that you learn, it is just who you are. My mother shared traditional stories. And song has never been my forte, whereas my daughter grew up singing many traditional songs both in the Mutsun and Rumsen languages with other Ohlone groups.
OF ALL PEOPLE on The California Mission Ride team, I’m the one who’s most freaked out about being able to ride well enough to complete the journey. I mean, Rod is an extreme stuntman who’s basically been riding since before he was born. My guess is that he doesn’t wake up at night to a voice saying “Find your center,” or “Send your energy out from the base of your spine, through your legs, and into the ground,” or “Remember, legs relaxed.” Ditto for the other riders. Deb is a full time horse-trainer. Gwyneth rides daily (and fast!) on challenging terrain. Daisy’s been riding since she was 3 (or 4). And Jay. Well, take a look at his bio. He’s already identifying with Alexander the Great.
Recently I’ve been taking riding lessons at a horse ranch in Massachusetts. My teacher, Troy van Gorder, mainly instructs his students in Centered Riding. For him that involves a blend of martial arts, Feldenkrais training, medieval jousting techniques, and heaven knows what else.
The first day on the ranch, I asked Troy to help me get ready for California. He had me put western tack on a Paint mare named Fancy. Then he asked me to imagine springs bubbling from the pads of my feet where they make contact with the stirrups. That was interesting. It made me aware when my feet got into iffy positions. It felt like I needed to line up the “springs” with the stirrups to get things flowing smoothly. Continue reading
INTERVIEW: Lisa Deas, Backcountry Horse Woman, Mule-Lover, Grandmother, Right to Ride Advocate, and More
LISA DEAS grew up in a military family. She was raised in Morocco, Europe, and Virgina prior to settling in Carmel Valley, California. She is Co-Vice President of Education with the Back Country Horsemen of California, and Founding President of the group’s Steinbeck Country Unit. She is also a Volunteer Wilderness Ranger with Los Padres National Forest; a certified Trainer with the group Leave No Trace; and she sits on the boards of two organizations: Friends of the Fort Ord Warhorse, and Monterey Bay Youth Camp. When not volunteering, she’s worked in diverse fields including secretarial, insurance, banking, and computer services.
You are President of a unit of the Backcountry Horsemen of California. Who are these horsemen? How did you become involved with this outfit?
Backcountry Horsemen of California is a group of private and commercial packers who met in 1981 to form the High Sierra Stock Users Association with the purpose of representing horsemen in dealings with the administrators of public lands. I dated a mule man who was instrumental in my involvement in BCHC. The relationship ended, but my love of mules and this club survived!
How many members do you have in California and what are some of the typical things your members will do to serve their communities on horseback?
We have over 3,000 members in California. We are known widely for trail maintenance, building & cleaning horse camps, fish plants, packing in Civil Conservation Corps crews as well as other valuable pack support for Forest Service, National Parks, and the Bureau of Land Management. We are packers who practice and teach Leave No Trace ethics.
VINCENT MEDINA JR., age 25, is the author of the lively multi-media blog “Being Ohlone in the 21st Century.” He is also Assistant Curator of Mission Dolores in San Francisco, where he leads popular tours for 4th graders, teachers, and other visitors. Vincent’s blog entries are by turns humorous, heart wrenching, and heartening. Altogether, they explore his experience as an Ohlone Indian living in the Bay Area today.
Why did you start your blog and how has it changed your life to address an internet audience?
I started this blog primarily because I wanted to give a first person narrative to ONE Ohlone story, my own. I became frustrated with anthropologists and other non-Ohlone inaccurately telling our story for us. The Ohlone story is one that is beautiful, confusing, ancient, and modern. Through a first person narrative I am able to speak to those truths, instead of our culture being told inaccurately in a simple sense, or as if we were once here but are no longer. Keep in mind that my story is just one Ohlone story, but there are thousands of others.
There are a lot of general misconceptions about the Ohlone people. If you could now correct one of these once and for all, which one would it be?
There so many many misconceptions I would want to correct I could go on for days. If I had to choose just one, it would be the horrible misconception that we are extinct. This misconception is damaging in so many ways — it affects us mentally, emotionally, politically, spiritually. We have been told for generations that we do not exist, and I believe that many people are comfortable allowing that misconception to exist because speaking to the truth that thousands of Ohlone are alive today undermines the legitimacy of centuries of broken treaties, stolen land, and countless other injustices that have been perpetuated against us. We must destroy this horrible misconception that we are extinct.
Dear Blog Readers,
Many of you seem to suffer from/rejoice in irrepressible urges to go on very long journeys without the benefit of motorized vehicles. My last post was about Maria López and her friends, including Stephanie Dodaro, who have walked long stretches of the Camino de Santiago as well as the California Mission Trail. Several other website visitors have sent us emails about past and future journeys near and far.
Here is an email (posted with his permission) by Matt Krause, a.k.a. Heathen Pilgrim:
Dear California Mission Ride,
OK, so Gwyneth has been out-blogging me like crazy here. I’ll try to catch up soon, but in the meantime wanted to post an interesting email that we received from website visitor Martha López. I asked her if I could post it on the Trail Blog, and as she gave her approval I copy it here:
Dear California Mission Riders,
I read about your planned journey in the latest California Mission Studies Association Newsletter. Your plans are impressive and exciting, and make me wish I too were a horsewoman. Alas, I am a lowly walker, though am proud of having completed five long-distance walks in Spain and across Europe.
After our encouraging meeting with Jack and Irene Lilley, Leslie managed to set up meeting with Mary Wright, former State Parks Chief Deputy, and her husband Ken, a former CHP officer in Big Sur. She thought they might offer some insight on the reality of such a venture. We met in little cafe in Carmel on a rainy day. They were a bit wide eyed, but approached the project with the dignity and seriousness that it required. They greatly boosted our confidence. The only moment of skepticism was when we grandly and naively painted a dramatic picture of us traversing the Golden Gate Bridge. We had talked about this dream several times, and though it made me somewhat nauseous, I didn’t want to discourage any ideas so early on. Ken did it for me. He shook his head and said no, no, no, no, no, not unless they shut the bridge down. Even then, I said, experiencing flashbacks to the tiny suspension bridge over the L.A. River into Griffith Park. That bridge is made for horses, yet is scary even for the strongest of heart.
November 12, 2010
After that defining meeting in September, Leslie and I decided that a meeting with a wrangler friend of mine was in order. This was Jack Lilley, a well known horse trader and movie horse man in Santa Clarita, near Newhall. I met him on a TV show called Magnificent Seven in 1998. He let me ride his horses during lunch which rekindled my love for them. We have been friends ever since. I boarded my horse at his place for 5 years until developers turned a large part of my ride loop into a subdivision.
Leslie flew from Boston to LAX, rented a small car, and met me on a cold windy night at the convenience store on Soledad Canyon Road around the corner from Jack’s. She found it hard to believe there was a ranch nearby. Los Angeles is like that, there are horses tucked away in the most unlikely places. If you don’t know that they are there you may never see them. An old cowboy in Burbank once told me there are more horses per square capita in Burbank than anywhere in the world.
We sat with Jack and his saintly wife Irene for a long time in their cozy ranch house. Irene keeps the wood oven in the kitchen going year round, warming the never-ending stream of cowboys, friends and family.