When the Spanish began colonizing central California and constructing Missions in the late 1700s, the Amah Mutsun people were aware of what the Spanish were doing.
The Spanish were building Missions close to Indian villages so they could be used for labor and be converted.
Construction of Mission San Juan Bautista began in 1797 in what is now San Juan Bautista, California.
“The Amah were considered Mission property upon baptism, and were not permitted to return to their tribal lands,” according to Amah Mutsun Tribal Band of Ohlone/Costanoan Indians history reported on the tribe’s website. “Under these oppressive conditions, the Amah were forced to conduct their tribal activities and speak their language in secret. This practice became a part of the discrimination and persecution of the Amah Mutsun.”
On December 22, Bishop Richard Garcia of the Monterey Diocese will offer a Mass of Reconciliation at Mission San Juan Bautista as a way of apologizing to the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band.
“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,” says an announcement in the Old Mission San Juan Bautista December newsletter. “The tribe wishes to express our thanks to Bishop Garcia for offering apologies from the Church and for this Mass of Reconciliation.”
The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band currently has more than 500 members and is petitioning the Bureau of Indian Affairs to gain federal recognition.
Events for December 22 are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. with a Fire Starting Ceremony followed by a Traditional Dance at 11:30 a.m. and the Mass of Reconciliation at 1 p.m. A meal of acorn, deer and elk will be shared at 2:30 p.m. with tribal elders, priests from the Monterey Diocese and tribal citizens.
The public is welcome to attend, but limited seating is available for the Mass of Reconciliation.