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JERRY NIEBLAS, San Juan Capistrano

1776. The lives, traditions, culture, religion, lands, villages and the family units of our Juaneno/Acjachemen ancestors comes to an abrupt and forceful ending as the result of the establishment of a “foreign” Spanish Mission! Absolutely nothing would survive or ever be the same for our people or for our Ancestral Village of Putuidem again …

2021. The great RESURGAM of a small portion of our most ancient and sacred Village of Putuidem occurs and becomes a reality! It’s unbelievable, as we’ve waited for so long for this day. We celebrate Putuidem and all our ancestors!

Putuidem is the well-documented ancestral village of my 6x great-grandparents, Zodut and Zoget, and my 5x great-grandmother, Chigilia Maria Bernarda. They were forcibly removed from these lands shortly after the Mission and its new boundaries were established. Their lives would forever be changed and would never again be the same—all forced upon them!

Now we have, are able to celebrate and use a small area of Putuidem. It is called the Putuidem Village Cultural Site. I was very moved and humbled to stand on those sacred grounds and deliver a talk on the occasion of our Putuidem ceremonial opening. It was very emotional for me, because I’m a direct descendant of those I’ve mentioned. They came to life that day, and I felt their powerful presence. I wonder if they are as proud of me as I am of them. I was moved by all those in attendance. My direct line to this Sacred Village is unbroken and me and my cousin, Gigi, frequently visit this land to leave our tobacco bundles and sage offerings at our Great Grandmother Oak.

A very special thank you to Ben Siegel, Tom Toman, all involved city staff, Mayor John Taylor and the City Council, Kerry Ferguson, Bob Cardoza (RIP) and all the Putuidem Committee. It is definitely a time of unity, renewal and celebration for our Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation! Always and forever to the memories of all our ancestors! Our great RESURGAM journey is just beginning…

Featured photo: Collin Breaux

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