Native Americans – Ancestral Records, Congress, and Sainthood

I’ve noticed Native Americans in the news lately.  Here’s a summary of three recent stories.

The truth about Ohlone history was featured in an article last month in Catholic San Francisco. There are few descendants remaining of Bay Area Native Americans as so many died after the Spanish arrived. Two are quoted, Vincent Medina and Andrew Glavan. Both are involved with Mission Dolores today. The Mission was founded in San Francisco in June 1776.

San Francisco Mission Dolores, photo from the 19th century

San Francisco’s Mission Dolores, photo taken in the later 19th century

Despite conveniences the Spanish brought in architecture, husbandry, clothing and transportation, it was not a fair trade. The Ohlone, as Medina points out, were forced into slavery. Their freedom of assembly, speech, religion, and other basic rights were blocked. They were forced to labor in the fields and construct the very mission we cherish today. Not mentioned was something I learned in high school, many enslaved women chose to kill their newborns instead of bringing them into this new world. This added to their decline.

Something I didn’t know was that the wooden grave markers of these Ohlone were gathered up and used as firewood for survivors of the 1906 earthquake and fire. Today, some of the Ohlone descendants and others are working to digitize the records kept by the Spanish in an effort to revive the language and remember the Ohlone ancestors.

In SoCal, accusations flew against Congressional candidate Raul Ruiz for his activities promoting Native Americans rights and recognition of ill treatment throughout American history. The article can be found in the LA Times. The most questionable seems to center around Ruiz reading a letter from a rebel in Mexico in support of someone who killed an FBI agent. As Ruiz says, “Congresswoman Bono Mack is launching desperate personal attacks because she’s down in the polls and losing this race — voters are appalled by her record on the issues that matter to them like voting to end Medicare and failing to create jobs.”

Jump out to the East Coast and to Vatican City where just the other day the first Native American was named a saint. Kateri Tekakwitha grew up in a Mohawk tribe with an Algonquin Christian mother who had been kidnapped and given to a Mohawk man during an inter-tribal raid. After refusing herself to marry a Mohawk man, she converted to Catholicism and thus became a pariah among her own people. She was seen as a traitor for not conforming against a growing threat of Europeans.

Kateri fled on foot to Canada to live with a community of Christian women. A complete article is on the NBC news website.


About Daniel Roddick

Daniel has a B.A. in American History with minors in both Ethnic Studies and Sociology. He also has an M.Ed. in College Administration and Counseling. Daniel has worked in the financial aid industry for over a decade. He has presented all over the country on financial aid issues related to equity, inclusion, and access to education. He is also a writer of poetry, fiction, and this blog, all of which touch on identity.
This entry was posted in Ancestry & Genealogy, Race & Ethnicity, Religion & Spirituality and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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