CARMEL >> On Sunday mornings, Rudy Rosales helps clean and maintain the graves of his ancestors at the Carmel Mission; either by pulling weeds or placing the abalone shells that adorn the humble mounds of earth.
It’s a ritual that connects the Ohlone Indian with his Catholic traditions and his indigenous roots. And as former tribal chairman of the Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation, he wasn’t exactly pleased Sunday, when more than 100 Native Americans from all over California descended onto the Mission Cemetery to hold a ceremony and protest the announced canonization of Junipero Serra, founder of the California Mission system.
“Why didn’t they boycott their own missions?” he asked. “Two thirds of our tribe is Catholic; my mom was a strict Catholic. A lot of tribal members did not ask if it was okay.”
Led by the American Indian Movement, dozens of Native Americans from different tribes from all over California gathered on the Carmel Mission Cemetery for a ceremony to honor their ancestors and their history on one of the most sacred days in the Catholic calendar.
The timing and place was chosen because Junipero Serra, the Franciscan friar who founded the first nine of the 21 missions in the California system, is buried there. Pope Francis announced in January he would bestow sainthood onto the friar when he visits the United States later in the year.
The news was met with incredulity and anger by many in the Native American community, who blame the California mission system for many of the atrocities their ancestors had to endure. They began organizing the ceremony/protest soon after the announcement. Read More…