Indigenous educators fight for an accurate history of CaliforniaBreaking News
tags: education, California, Indigenous history
Gregg Castro first roamed the Santa Lucia Mountains at the age of 8, going out with his father to hunt deer and wild pigs in the fall, when the oak trees and manzanita bushes turn gold and the famously blue California skies go gray.
Rising along the central California coast, the Santa Lucias are dotted with pines and redwoods and home to rattlesnakes, bobcats and, some say, the ghost of a headless woman — a settler who died crossing a creek in the 1800s. The tallest peak in the range, Junipero Serra, is more than a mile above sea level, and caves and grottos can be found throughout the region, many of them used by Castro’s Salinan ancestors on trips to and from the Pacific Ocean. The mountains are also home to Mission San Antonio de Padua, one of the 21 Catholic outposts Spain built in the late 1700s to establish a colonial foothold here and convert Indigenous people to Christianity.
During winter, on the way to Jolon, California, when the rains came and it was cold, Castro remembers his dad turning up the heat in his old Chevy truck and rolling down the windows. The scent of oaks, rock rose and willow floated into the truck — the “Jolon smell,” Castro calls it, the smell of home.
It was a long drive between the mountains and the city of San Jose, where the family lived at the time, so Castro’s dad would often stop and camp near Mission San Antonio de Padua. That made for an earlier hunting day and gave them a chance to linger in their traditional homeland, where his dad felt comfortable. After dinner, as the campfire died and sunset neared, Castro would wrap himself in his favorite green coat to ward off the mountain valley evening chill and explore the mission’s gardens and tiled walkways.
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