Sunday, December 11, 2011

Juaneño Tribal Members Remember Victims of 1812 Mission Earthquake

David Belardes, chief and chairman of the Juaneño Band of
Mission Indians, blows a ceremonial wind pipe in the annual
remembrance of those members that perished in the 1812
earthquake in Mission San Juan Capistrano. (image via SJC Patch)
If you've ever visited the Mission San Juan Capistrano (and if you live in Orange County there's a 98% chance you have), you may remember hearing about the earthquake that damaged the mission, including the Great Stone Church, which still stands (though damaged) today.

What you may not know is that the local Juaneño tribe members hold a remembrance for those tribal members who perished in the earthquake that day on December 8, 1812. This past Friday, the memorial service was held at the church and officiated by David Belardes, chief and chairman of the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, and Franciscan Friar Joseph Scerbo, who served the mission from 1996-2004.

In a blending of native and Catholic beliefs, the ceremony included a procession, testimonials and dedications. Those attending created a circular prayer formation while Jerry Nieblas, president of Capistrano Historical Alliance Committee and a descendant of pre-mission families, presented the list of the 43 people that perished in the earthquake. Father Joseph read the names in English and David Berlardes provided a native Acjachemen translation.

With the memorials that surround events like 9/11, and recently Pearl Harbor day on December 7th, it's touching to know that there are people like the Juaneño tribal members that remain committed to remembering the victims of almost forgotten tragedies in Orange County history.
A prayer circle formed while ceremonial sage is burned.
In the original article that ran in the San Juan Capistrano Patch, reader Janic Pickartz left the following comment:

This is a very sacred and spiritual time for the Juaneños. It was good to see so many come together and join in Catholic traditions, prayers and song in the native language. We weren't there for any kind of recognition but to honor those lives lost and to keep the history very much alive. This Mission is and always will be HOME to the entire tribe of the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians......that will never change.

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