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Historic Mass of Reconciliation at Mission San Juan Bautista on Saturday, December 22, 2012

On December 22, 2012, Bishop Richard Garcia of the Monterey Diocese will offer a Mass of Reconciliation for the Historic Amah Mutsun Tribal Band.


On December 22, 2012, Bishop Richard Garcia of the Monterey Diocese will offer a Mass of Reconciliation for the Historic Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. This mass is an important event in the history of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band as Bishop Garcia will apologize for the tragic events which occurred during Mission times.


“Our tribe has experienced severe trauma throughout the history of settlement in California. Forced relocations to missions, bounties on the heads of Native Americans, rape, disease, slavery, cultural genocide, broken treaties and the continuing denial of our history perpetuates the effects of historic trauma on our citizens. These events, which nearly destroyed the Mutsun culture, have never been officially acknowledged by the Catholic Church. We view this Mass of Reconciliation as a very important step along the path of healing for Amah Mutsun, both individually, as many of our citizens are Catholic to this day, and collectively as a people, accepting our past, celebrating our resilience and looking to a vibrant future.” said  Valentin Lopez, Chairman of the Amah Mutsun. The mass will include the presentation of a Resolution which acknowledges the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band as the historic and continuous Tribe of Mutsun (San Juan) and Awaswas (Santa Cruz) speakers.



The present day Amah Mutsun Tribal Band is comprised of the documented descendants of the Native Americans who were taken to Missions San Juan Bautista and Santa Cruz. The Federal government terminated its relationship with the Amah Mutsun in approximately 1930 – an act which, to this day, has yet to be rectified. Because of their lack of Federal status, the Tribe currently has no land. Few citizens can afford to live in the area of their ancestors. Many reside in Central Valley communities and will be traveling significant distances for this historic event.


This mass, during the time of Winter Solstice, marks an important day of prayer for renewal and hope for the future of the Mutsun People. Over the last decade, with a Tribal citizenry that is energized, involved, and deeply committed to achieving self-governance, self-determination, and a sustainable future for Mutsun Lands and People, we have achieved significant accomplishments: recognition as a Tribal Government by the State of California; co-management at both National and State Parks; educational programs for our people and the public; the establishment of a Tribal Land Trust and; a revitalization of Mutsun language and culture. None of these would be possible without the ardent support of our government, academic, conservation and community partners for whom we are truly grateful.  

For this important opportunity to reflect, accept and meet the challenges of the future together, the Tribe wishes to express our thanks to Bishop Garcia for offering apologies from the Church and for this mass of reconciliation.


Events for the Day of Reconciliation include the following:

10:15am          Fire Starting Ceremony

11:30am          Traditional Dance of the Mutsun Tribe*

1:00pm            Mass of Reconciliation

2:30pm            A meal, which will include acorn, deer and elk, will be shared between Bishop Garcia, priests from the Monterey Diocese, Tribal citizens, invited Elders from other tribes, friends and partners.


*Dance to be on State Parks and Recreation grass quad area in front of Old Mission Church in San Juan Bautista.


The public is welcomed to observe; limited seating for the mass will be available.


The mass will also be recorded and aired on CMAP’s local cable access television channels at a later date. DVDs will be made available through CMAP, at or by emailing



 Valentin Lopez, Tribal Chairman, is available for interviews and more information about this event at (916)


Photo credit: Steve Hill

Art created by Ann Theirmann


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