Friday, November 6, 1992 They
Pulling the shades to see the blue mountains. That they escaped there, into them.
That I didn’t know this before. That the core Mesa Grande Indians are the original Ramona Indians, that they are Iipai. That Ramona was Pamo, is “in the pamo," which means “bighorn sheep watering place.” Which means “a hole worn in the rock by water.” Which means “warm.” That I never knew there were bighorn sheep here. That I never knew a single name of a single person from that time, a single village, a single tribal name, a word, a story, from the eons they lived here. That someone made sure I didn’t know.
That they are Yuman, which is Hokan, who pushed up the west coast of Mexico from as far south as the Gulf of Tehuantepec. That they are border Indians, occupying a narrow strip from Yuma to San Diego on both sides of the United States-Mexico border. That adjacent to them on the north, from Oceanside through Warner Springs, Palm Springs, and sweeping around the southern base of the Sierra Nevada and up into the Great Basin and Montana are the tribes of the Shoshonean family, with their remote connections with the Incas. That the Mesa Grande are Hokan, while down in the valley at Warner Springs, the Cupenos are Shoshonean.
That they knew where they were from. That we don’t. That I didn’t. That my own grandmother. That my own grandfather.
That a major village was at the head of Pamo Canyon, on Washington, between Lilac and Pamo Road. (That I was taught they were just passing through. That every town I’ve ever lived in, Vermont to Washington, has said this.) That they had smaller villages throughout the valley, at the food places of the oaks and pines and water, the grinding places. At the head of Clevenger Canyon, on the Castle Ranch, on the flats of the old Etcheverry Ranch, on the old Kunkler and White ranches, near an old spring that flowed alongside Highway 78 near Santa Maria Creek, out all our windows on Olive. That another major village was located deep in Pamo Valley, at the confluence of the Santa Ysabel and Temescal creeks, that they had strong connections with the villages farther down in San Pasqual Valley.
That they roamed from the desert to the sea, on trails that linked them with the Pacific Coast bands to the west and with the mountain and desert bands to the east. That they brought back seafood from Torrey Pines. That in summer they moved to the higher reaches of Black Canyon and Mesa Grande and in winter back down into the pamo. That they spoke the same dialect of the Yuman language as did the people of Santa Ysabel, Mesa Grande, and Capitan Grande.
That family names evolved to those of today. That Letcapa “hard like a rock” becomes La Chappa. That Kwilp “name of a shrub” becomes Quilp. That Kukura “dark, shady” is Couro. That Paltho. That Keleet. That Rehare. That Panto. That Aaran. That Cinon Duro Mataweer. That La Chusa. That Vacillo Duro. That Yeidro Nejo. That Grevoja Pa, her son Capitan Mateo Pa.
That I don’t know how to pronounce Iipai. Ipay. That some say Ipai-Tipai. Some say Inkepah.
That they were not Diggers. That they were not Mission Indians. That they were not neophytes. That they were not disafiliados. That they were not Dieguitos.
That only one generation. That more than three-fourths were unconverted. That half the converted died. That the others just went home. That they added new knowledge to their own. Like going to a new country. Like going to the moon. That we blame it on the missions. That we blame it on the Mexicans.
That the military destroyed the people.
That we destroyed the people.
That we invaded California. That we stole California from the Mexicans.
That the Stokes home is by the major village site. That Ortega and Stokes genocided them.
That as a girl I couldn’t imagine how they survived. That there was no food in this land. That just brush, just rocks, just dust. No animals, only buzzards, rattlers, black widows, no life, no love.
That I was taught this.
That this is Southern California. That they led lives as rich as any people anywhere. That the bounty was great. That fish, fowl, deer, rabbit, seeds, grains. That fermented drink. That loco weed.
That they had vision quests.
That they knew the healing properties of plants. That I knew only stickers, only starvation only hate only heat only death.
That only the Curse. Only the Cover-up. Only the karma.
That they loved.
That “in the old days when the people were going to a gathering they would fill the trails three abreast for many hours. ” [Ted Couro, quoted by Russell Bowen, Ramona Sentinel, 10/15/70)]
That for small game they threw the killing stick. Boomerang. BAM!
That their annual games, a form of football and other contests. BAM!
That they played. BAM!
That the women made chin tattoos. That they wore bark dresses. Cacti dresses.
That they “threw the acorns up out of the winnowing basket, that the wind blew the bad stuff away.” [Susan Suntree performance manuscript] That it “tastes like the peat smell you get when you ’re walking under trees, kicking leaves up in the air. ” [Suntree]
That I have never tasted wiiwish.
That there was no history. That there is no history. That the true history of San Diego County has not been told. That there are at least a dozen men as powerful, as dramatic, as heroic, and as martyred as Sequoyah, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, Geronimo. That the critics still say they were not “colorful.”
That Paltho was the chief of the In-ke-pah in the pamo. (That the In-Ko-Pah Mountains?) That he possessed magical powers to transform himself into an eagle. That as an eagle he hunted rabbits to feed his people.
That they fought the invaders.
That Cullamac. That Francisco. That "Tough-Strong,” the legendary Jualcucuilsh. That Aaron. That Aachil. That Aalcuirin. That Taguagui. That Garra. That Ysidro. That Panto. That Olegario. That Lazarro. That Narcisco La Chappa. That Manuel Chapo. That Cuerno Santo Pena.
That there are no women. (That the 1785 revolt against slavery at San Gabriel Mission was led by the Gabrieleno woman Toypurina.) That Felicita. That Trinidad. That Maria La Luz. That Ramona Pena. That Ramona Lubo.
That in your lifetime the fabric of your tribe, your people, is coming undone before your eyes. That you witness this. That your prayers. That it happens. That your parents, your brothers, your sisters, your lover, your children, their babies. That your village. That your land. That your Language, that your Knowledge, that the Truth, that your Love. That your soul.
That your God
the psychic despair
That absolute Evil wins, absolutely
Every face, except those of the very young, was sad beyond description. They were stamped indelibly by generations of suffering, immovable distrust also underlying the sorrow. It was hard to make them smile. To all our expressions of good-will and interest they seemed indifferent, and received in silence the money we paid them for baskets and lace. [Helen Hunt Jackson, Glimpses of California and the Missions]
That the history is buried in thousands of footnotes, separate tales, letters, journals, newspapers, slants, behind blind eyes, in all our nightmares. That the scholars and historians continue the cover-up. That the Church, that the military cover it up. That Ramona High School covers it up. That the citizens. That the corps.
That the name Temecula is an Indian word, signifying “grief" or “mourning.” That “the name Temecula is an Indian word meaning ‘The Valley of Joy. ’” [Temecula Chamber of Commerce pamphlet) That you survive That Serra was responsible for the ruin of the aboriginal culture that flourished for thousands of years before contact with the Spanish. The Indians were sophisticated hunter-gatherers with a complex social, economic, and religious system that was appropriate to their environment and in many ways superior to the culture that was imposed on them. [Kevin Leary, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/19/88]
In August in Mendocino I heard on National Public Radio a call for help to fight nuclear dumping on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation in northern San Diego County. This was especially riveting because one of my most important high school girlfriends, Janet Stevenson, lives on this reservation and has since she was 17, when she married Frank “Pug” Taylor, a Los Coyotes, between our junior and senior years.
Janet’s been a postmaster for many years, first at Warner’s, and now at Julian. I call her there.
“The Indians are very sensitive about people who have no right speaking for them, so I cannot really say. I still have no rights here. But it was never intended to be a nuclear dump, just a dump site, yes. They’ve been looking for sites all over San Diego County. This is a big company from back East. Los Coyotes is part of an environmental study. Several reservations have been approached. The thing is, dumps on the reservations don’t have to meet county codes, regarding roads, pollution, things like that.
“Some of the Indians are for it because it means money. My personal, strong opinion is no. But — and this is very important, I have no right to say. You have to be an enrolled member of the tribe to be involved, and of course I am not. My daughters are. Just because I’m married to an Indian and have children who are members and have lived here 35 years doesn’t mean anything. I don’t have any rights. I can’t attend meetings. The Indians are very sensitive about this.’’
In 1854, the California legislature passed a statute prohibiting the sale of any firearms to a California Indian.Coupled with the earlier anti-brush fire law, these laws left Indians without a viable means of hunting.
[Richard Carrico, Strangers in a Stolen Land, American Indians in San Diego, 1850-1880]
In his Memoirs Ed Fletcher tells about a curse that was put on Warner's by the Indians...at the time of their eviction (1903). [Charles Russell Quinn, The Story of Mission Santa Yasbel]
All Ramon's life he bore the prejudice against him, with a good heart. Bonhomme. Then, at San Diego High School, he encountered prejudice against whites. I heard in his voice a very great empowerment. I’ve tried to remember the word ever since. Feys? The gloating, of relief and joy and hate — all of history, the curse, karma, and cover-up carried in the word, the way he used it. It’s a two-way street, man.
Fey. Old English: fated. Akin to Greek: cowardly, doomed. To Latin: foe. Archaic or Scottish: doomed to death. Being in an unusually excited or gay state, believed to portend sudden death.
Instead of a ring, I wore his bullet on a chain around my neck. People warned me, it could go off. This made me love him even more.
Sometime late fall of my sophomore year, Ramon is up for the weekend. I have to break up with him. This is unbearably painful. We go to the park. He cries. When he sees, finally, that there is no winning me back, he begs me to go one last time to our place at the elementary school. The idea is repulsive, but I finally agree, promising myself that I won’t allow the explosions to happen. (Female orgasm is not in my speech pattern yet: I have never heard of the thing that keeps happening to me.) But for all my resistance they come, four, then five times, and for the first time in my experience with this strange phenomenon, I feel vulgar, know shame.
Walking back to the drive-in, down 9th street, under the eucalyptus, he says, “Well, you don’t have to be so hateful about it.”
Walking, the newsstand outside the post office, headlines of every paper: “Rancho Santa Fe Woman, Three Children Found Dead.”
Gail Spiro, 41, Sara, 16, Adam, 14, and Dina, 11, were found last night shot in separate bedrooms. Ian Spiro, 46, reported to be a CIA agent who worked with former White House aide Oliver North and England's Terry Waite to secure release of Western hostages from Lebanon, is missing.
When my book Hard Country came out with our photo on the front, I hoped it would find him. I am 14, he is 15, and we sit outside Edens’ Heavenly Hamburgers. In my uniform I am loving him in his white, silk, unbuttoned shirt. The skull and crossbones ring on his right middle finger. When West End Press tried to censor my Crazy Horse poem, I dug this photo out, Xeroxed it.
Dear Leftist Collective, your disapproval feels exactly like Rightist Ramona’s, when I wasn't supposed to be with Ramon. So politically incorrect, a white girl loving an Indian. It feels exactly like all-hell-brought-down-on-Ramona for loving Alessandro. It feels like Romeo and Juliet. Dear Collective, whatever whose politics, my poem will never be published without Crazy Horse. He is the central Image, the Core of my whole book.
The Teepee, Friday Night
There’s a curse on this place.
Dance every tune, a good band from Lakeside, three hours dancing to the revelation: they put a curse on this place! Asking about Clevenger Canyon, “who owns all that land?” “Corporations,” Jerry says. “The Corps.” He works for them, is a caretaker for one of their ranches. He boasts of making $400 a month, $6000 a year. “Everything is paid for, house, vehicles, food, everything. I’ll show you my ranches.”
“How old are you?” someone asks after I’ve talked about Ramona in the ’50s.
They laugh. Turn back to their drinks.
“I was born April 26, 1941, in Long Beach. Graduated from Ramona High School, class of 1959.”
Jerry glances at me, is very still. I dance the next one, return to my stool. “I’m from the class of ’59,” he says, “El Monte High School.” He turns away, stares off. “Sort of a lost class, right? Who remembers 1959? I’m six weeks younger than you. Hard to believe though. What’s your secret?” “Vitamin G Olive oil. Rock ’n roll and the road.” After a while I add, “Vow of poverty. Poetry, other poets. Ecofeminism. Staying clear of the AMA. Cliches, especially about aging, thought forms that kill.”
Radicals stay young because they live their cells all the way out from the roots.
I’ve believed it every time I’ve been told he’s dead. Shot in Vietnam. Shot on Main Street in Julian. Shot in a bar over a woman. Shot, a CIA assassination. The last time I saw him was in late 1966.
I was by then just gone. Civil rights! Then: Vietnam. Forever radicalized.
He was returning to Vietnam his second time. (How do I know this?)
He was pulling out of the drive-in, glowing copper handsome in a white Corvette and Army uniform. The sexy white teeth I still run my tongue across. Cocky, yes. A well-deserved bonhomie, sweetheart, bless. Only a moment, only a glance — impossible for me to think I will not always encounter Ramon at the Timeless Drive-In — it must have been the Ranch Burger then. Sometimes I’m driving by Edens’, out on 67, sometimes I’m waitressing inside, Elvis crying I'm so lonely I could die and he’s grinning in, perfect teeth, mojave, ordering his cherry Coke, teeth as starry white as his car laying rubber out of there for Vietnam.
The Malaise. The Prejudice Against Ramon
Before her death Helen [Hunt Jackson] had known that the book had caused great anger in San Diego County, but she insisted she was glad of it.... Persons who had been called despoilers, plunderers, and heartless and unscrupulous rogues in Helen's magazine and newspaper articles, or thinly disguised (as they felt) in Ramona, were furious. To them the very name of the author was anathema [Ruth Odell, Helen Hunt Jackson]
“You understand, it's a fiction book,” Guy Woodward, founder and director of the Guy B. Woodward Ramona History Museum instructs me. "Ramona was taken from the old squaw buried near Hemet. The book was written at Aquanqa, at the Harry Bergmans’, they owned Lost Valley, Oak Grove, old friends of mine. Went there many times. They were connected to the Littlepages. She was a Mindenhall, which at one time owned Palomar Mountain. First time I ever saw an Indian teepee, a bark teepee, was on the way there. They had the manuscript. Their grandmother told them, ‘Get rid of that trash.’ ”
But the prejudice and the bad energies of the place stem originally from 112 years before HHJ, with the rebellions against the Spanish Church and military beginning in 1769, the Native raids from down out of these mountains, and the subsequent attempted genocides of the Natives by San Diegans throughout the 19th Century.
"The war of extermination will continue to be waged... until the Indian race becomes extinct, ” Peter H. Burnett, Governor of California, 1850-52, to the legislature.
“No, I've never had much on Indians in the museum. If you don’t have dates, you don’t have history,’’ Guy Woodward continues. "Course there’s no true Indians now. All interbreeded with the whites. ” As with all lies, trying to live with them, the Denial has created enormous neuroses, confusions — ignorance, paralysis, despair, shame, waste, accidents, cruelties, tragedies, crime. The residual energies of what happened and are happening take up residencies where they can, in the “feel” of the place. In the air, the forbidden images everywhere. In the brain (unable to think). In the mouth, the forked tongue unable to speak. (When we are not allowed to tell the truth, when lies are crammed down our throats, when we can’t say what we mean, in the very least, we become dyslexic.) This is the malaise that hangs over my hometown, Ramona. (This is what makes teenagers here and everywhere — the ones between childhood truths and adulthood lies — crazy.)
Saturday, November 7,1992. Moon in Aries. Go Helen Hunt It
“A born radical, accepting nothing that she had not tested and made sure of." The ability to “strongly love and to frankly hate!" “A soul of fire." [Sarah Woolsey and Thomas Higginson, on HH, quoted in Valerie Sherer Mathes, Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Reform Legacy]
Michael Ventura, on his way to Texas, comes through Ramona.
We spend the day driving in his neon chartreuse ’67 Chevy Malibu, “Baby.”
“To begin our journey I’ll take you to the most holy place on earth.”
Floating down Main, turning onto 7th in the big thing, around the corner on B. “Now pull over. Back up."
Cream-colored broken-down garage shack. “This is where I conceived my son.”
Out Olive Street, so white, decomposed granite, this is where Ramon lived, there’s Ramona, or Mary, lying on her back between Mt. Woodson and those southwest hills, that lower peak — Wow! For the first time I see that she’s...pregnant!
Past Giant’s Grave.
Up there’s the house I grew in.
Up there’s the mountain my sister and I climbed that first summer and I got stuck. She got down, called out the rescuers. The ultimate mortification, as we said then. But I had seen over the top. A site that will forever haunt me: undeveloped wilderness.
Then east out of Ramona to Julian, Ipai road to Mesa Grande, to the Cuyamacas, to the desert.
Climbing, under the pictograph, painted rock profile of the human my brother took me to. Face of our wandering in this apocalyptic world, our trying to live here.
By 1844 Ortega and Stokes had Ranchos Santa Ysabel and Santa Maria. They assumed the two properties adjoined, “but later surveys showed a considerable space between, and therefrom hangs a clue to subsequent developments": (Bowen, Ramona Sentinel, 10/15/70) Ballcna, Witch Creek, Santa Teresa, Wynola, etc., the little pockets into which the whites poured themselves, tooth and nail for their Forty.
Ballena: the native name Epank (eh-punk) became the equivalent, va-yea-na, for Whale Mountain. [Ruth Meyers, Historic Buildings of the Ramona Area]
Witch Creek: the name Egepam, meaning foreign or strange, sounded to early settlers like the Spanish hechicera, meaning “witch." [Erwin G. Gudde, California Place Names]
“When I finally did read Ramona, in the ’70s, in Vermont, I read it as fiction. It never occurred to me that there really was a major village, or any village at all, at San Pasqual, a place I knew so well.” Santa Ysabel: llthijua Nan or Elcuanan. Like Ysabel San...? Or El Cajon...? Who was Saint Ysabel? Ysabel means belle, Elizabeth. What did the sound ilthqua nan mean to them? Who, what is it that comes through sound? Through ilthqua nan?
(I846-7] Following close on Kearny’s heels...came Colonel Phillip St. George Cooke and his Battalion.... The guide was lean-Baptiste Charbonneau, trail-born son of Toussant Charbonneau and his young Indian bride, Sacagawea, the legendary Bird Woman of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.... Now, forty-one years later, this trail-born child was down in the Santa Ysabel.... [Charles Quinn, The Story of Mission Santa Ysabel]
(The alima baby my great grandfather’s grandfather help deliver. Oh, Spider Woman, the web you weave....)
On January 5, 1852, |after "the last Indian uprising," led by Antonio Garra.l the Treaty of Temecula with Luiseno and Cahuilla Indians of northern San Diego County [was signed]. Two days later, the Treaty of Santa Ysabel with Ipai and Tipai leaders [was signed]. [Carrico|
[1853| As Couts began his tenure as agent, Superintendent Beale [the veteran of the Battle of San Pasqual and the one who brought camels to Anza-Borrego] alienated many San Diego Native Americans by reappointing an unpopular and unrespected Indian alcalde. Beale’s reappointment of the (flogged and) aged chieftain, Tomas, met with great disfavor among the Mesa Grande Indians. The Indians petitioned Couts to remove Tomas and replace him with the respected and dynamic Panto from San Pasqual. [Carrico]
Mesa Grande: Tekamek.
Panto: Alcalde of the Ipai People, chief of the San Pasqual for 30 years.
(But the San Luis Rey-San Pasqual people and the Pamo Mesa Grande, to the best of my understanding, are two different peoples.)
 The land set aside for the San Pasqual Indians...encompassed over 92,000 acres and included Ramona to the east. Mount Woodson to the south. Highland Valley on the west and Lake Wohlford to the north
Local anti-reservation whites told the Indians that if they moved onto the reservation they “were to be made slaves of the government, smallpox was to be introduced in the clothing sent them; their cattle taken from them___"
On February 17, 1871, due to the protest of the citizens of San Diego County, President Grant revoked his own executive order, returning the acres to the public domain. [Carrico]
1878 [T]he San Pasqual Indians were forced by local officials to abandon their ancestral lands and leave the bones of their dead for the white man’s plow. [Carrico]
They fled up the canyons, for Mesa Grande. What chaos. What...Hell.
For example, the Indians of San Diego could not understand those of San Luis Rey...for the Diegueno spoke a dialect of the Yuman language family, while the Luiseno spoke one of the dialects of the Shoshonean. (Walter Bean & lames Rawls. California, An Interpretative History]
What a great and important story, untold — 1835, the San Luis Rey Mission, founded in 1798, closed and they “settled themselves” in San Pasqual. That’s only 37 years. Was it not really a return to their ancestral lands? Is this in the records anywhere? Do they know? Were they now speaking Luiseno? Did they originally speak Ipai?
January 1880. Ten thousand acres, Agua Caliente [Warner’s] and Santa Ysabel were canceled by President Hayes “at the request of several Anglo settlers who later gained title to the open land.” [Carrico]
Even Jackson found this case much too complicated to write of in great detail. The Protective League of Mesa Grande, supposedly Mesa Grande whites organized to protect themselves from cattle and horse thieves, were incognito “a vigilance committee... that...meant short shrift to Indians." [Helen Hunt Jackson, report on the Mesa Grande Indians, appendix to A Century of Dishonor]
Climbing the south side of Volcan Mountain, fountainhead of the county’s primary rivers, the San Dieguito, the San Diego. Inaja! Pronounced In-ya-ha by the Inajas I know. Pronounced Any-aha according to another source, meaning “my water." Pronounced Atuilui or Anahuac meaning “lasting spring,” according to Charles LeMenager [Julian City and Cuyamaca Country], Which looks little like huaca, a Chinese-Inca word meaning “sacred place.” Inaja Cosmit!
I’m following the blind directions of some of my oldest memories. East out of Julian — first chance, turn south. “Few other areas in all California had as many Indian villages in such close proximity,’’ [LeMenager] San Diego River People! Sunrise Highway 6000 feet above the desert floor, all the world to Lake Ahhakweamac, “water beyond" or “rain behind,” a major village on the primary north-south trail that ran though Jamatajune, over the east mesa, through Green and Cuyamaca valleys and over the east brow of North Peak, past the village of Yguai on the way to Santa Ysabel — Iguai, Iguae, Iguayee, Yguia. Pronounced E-yee, meaning “nest” or “den.” On one of its slopes the wild animals disappeared when hunted.
Then they disappeared, under the overhanging branches of the live oaks, from the white settlers and the Christianized Indians of San Felipe and Santa Ysabel. That they were two different peoples thrown together in the diaspora.
That this is the true border, not the Mexican-U.S. one now 30 miles south. Or rather, occupying a narrow strip from Yuma to San Diego, both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, this is a whole other country, a separate country.
1825-1837: Indian restlessness and attacks on Spanish settlements. Military expeditions from the Presidio. In 1837, at the village of Cuyamaca “the Indians were more numerous than at any other place... we had to fight... kill... them. ” [Carrico]
1836-46: “Numerous bands of Indians roved over the huge county of San Diego, causing much trouble to the few venturesome pioneer settlers, whom the Indians distrusted as marauders and land grabbers after their ranges and hunting grounds.” (Rolin Pierce, “History of Ramona, A San Diego Village," unpublished manuscript] Mitaragui “abandoned” sometime before 1856, probably 1847, after they “made a kind of revolution" against Augustin Olvera and Cesario Walker, after Joaquin Ortega testified to [his brother-in-law] Governor Pio Pico. “Cuyamaca...is absolutely empty.” [Carrico] After the U.S. of A. arrives.
A native of Germany camped here from February to August 1856, saw not a soul.
“Subsequent cutting of firewood for the boilers of the Stonewall Mine and fireplaces of the settlers reduced the forest to bare land." [Carrico]
After they made a kind of revolution? “Adam and Eve were the first people,” Ventura says. “We’re the last, Doubiago.”
Then we’re in our writer’s discussion again, my trying to tell of the path I’ve taken.
“No one wants you to tell the truth. On the one hand everyone knows — the fact, the truth, the structure, all of their lives, society, self-identity, is built on lies, can admit this easily, especially in poems, and to a poet. On the other, there’s fear, as if of the parents, or teachers, or commanders, or the law, or God, or just the fact of matter, the Earth, that they will he proven — condemned and punished, their souls in question — liars, sinners, transgressors. So the denial is — psychotic."
More and more, with the birth of mi nieto, I see how we come into the world and have to learn — no trust whatsoever in what God made us — to be civilized. Our psyches are open to learning, but learning, in this culture, is obedience to authority. The exchange is not of mutual respect, the child is the parent’s property, the contempt you hear in the voices, everywhere, in Safeway’s shopping line, unbearable — that’s where the revolution is going to happen! — becomes obedience, loss of Self. This summer I found myself— I found myself— following babies, following a two-month-old off the Manhattan Beach pier, hanging off its young father’s left shoulder, following the incredible intelligence in its eyes, the blinding shock of being here.
The sunlight flickers dark patterns through the small, stiff-pointed oak leaves, across the front of our bodies. Baby’s upholstery, the steep, twisted two-lane.
“I didn’t know land like this existed in Southern California,” he says, stopping at an overlook.
“It’s one of the reasons I write. No one speaks of this Southern California.”
A V of desert, way down there, gray and grainy through the chaparral, under the scrawny oak. Mojave. The Colorado. We are psychic beings. We live inside the bodies of our mothers for nine months, before that, inside the bodies of our father and our mother, prostate, ovary, eternity, stardust, earthrock. Three to seven thousand years ago, Ramon. We choose...we want to course through this, our spirits to intercourse matter. “The Peninsular Range Province extends from near Riverside down half the length of Baja California.... The entire western edge...is marked by discontinuous volcanic outcroppings....” [Meyer] And massive figures etched into the mountainsides, as near Blythe, a man, a deer, a horse.
“The most troubling thing, being this age, I see the results of the little white lies we told the children 20 years ago, lies to ’protect' them, lies they believe are truths, on which they are trying now to create their lives, create themselves. Impossible! Except they become just like us — liars. I’ve dedicated all my books to them — with my poverty in order to write I couldn’t buy them things — so always I was writing to them. But, Michael, now they can’t read me, they’ve been taught not to be able to, and it’s getting difficult for me to be around them, my family that I love so, with this truth ethic. They demand I lie. too! They’ve become terrified of me! We all see what’s ahead: impossible for me to lie to the grandkids! It’s so ironic. I’m the wild, pagan radical — dangerous and immoral because I tell the truth! They, the churchgoers, are nice, correct, respectable, normal, because they lie!”
“The fear of the truth becomes the fear of life,” he responds, but I butt in, throwing a rock down while he props his camera on an old snarled oak branch.
“From the beginning I’ve said I’m just trying to tell my truth, and if you tell me not to, I won’t write of you; but the monstrous truth they keep shoving down my throat is just how threatened they are by my truths, until they make me see clearer than ever before, my life is entwined with theirs, and this agreement I’ve made in pure faith they are revealing in their freakouts to be just further blackmail that I lie, too.
“Family. Has anyone been more protective of mine than me? It is is not the issue of privacy which we all need more of, desperately. This is about raising yourself and the children on the delusional lies that genocided these people in the name of God and greed. That made these Christians do the work of Satan. The Roman lies, if you will, that they know, recite, petition, pray against daily, crucified their Lord.
“Long ago, when we were 18 — it was the spring after John Kennedy was killed — Mickey and I sat on the steps of a wood building at Goddard, in Vermont, a place you know well, and Mickey said, ‘Only the truth is kind.’ He and I are still very close, and every now and again we talk about that day and what he said, each of us still trying to catch up to that incredible wisdom that came out of him."
After a long while he speaks again, to the space, “You are bound to those who know your secrets, and you are separated from those to whom you lie. Including yourself."
“I always knew it was going to be hard, it’s why it took me so long to publish, but some members of my family... oh, I just never dreamed it would be them.... Lately, I’ve actually become afraid.
Of them! The most important persons to me on the earth. They’ve forced me to see that they will do anything to keep me from telling my, just my little truth.”
“My teacher told me something very helpful once. Let them hate you. Love them so much — expose yourself to them enough that they have to hate you. Let your truth hang out so visibly that their hatred of it, of you, is clear even to themselves. So they have to face it.”
“The king is naked!” I scream just like I did in high school to the desert below.
We’re driving all the way to Descanso. 1958: On the bus, the Descanso-El Campo cheerleaders, letting them off at their school. One girl Indian. Her pom-poms. That’s all. One of those flashes that’s always there, but you don’t know why. We drive by the small high school, exactly as then, “Mission Revival,” who was she? Why does the memory insist I not forget, as if my soul depended on it?
“I hope you don’t get caught up in the guilt trip.”
“Another lie. I know the difference between guilt and grief."
“To be open to the grief,” he says, “and even to the shame, of what our history has cost others, and what our standard of living is costing them, even as we speak, is to take the crucial step of severing one’s allegiance, not to civilization as an ideal, but to this civilization. To stop trying to ‘improve’ it and to be willing to discard it, to go beyond it entirely.
“There’s a difference between helping this society survive and helping humanity survive. Society is always and merely a form. We are the content. This society is dispensable. We are not. People who equate a sense of historical grief and shame with guilt are usually trying to defend their affluence.”
Out on 8. Past Alpine: Viejas! Where the warriors sheltered their mothers, aunts, and grandmothers when they went off to fight. We turn off at the Lakeside exit, then onto Wildcat Canyon Road.
I hear my father laughing, telling again the story of old Charley Hatfield, the rainmaker, hired by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in the dry heaves of 1912-1916 — they couldn’t even take baths!— to make it rain, how with his scientific meteorological concoction in vats on top of his tower up Wildcat he made it rain so Noah’s Flood came, so that the Fathers had to sue him, otherwise all the “wrongful deaths,” his “act of God,” would be laid at their guilty feet, the very week Daddy is born in Tennessee and Tia Juana’s racetrack is washed out.
And Cullamac, (Carlos?) [Who was Carlos, with Francisco, the two neophytes who rebelled against the San Diego Mission and led the attack that killed the priest? I read of this in May 1994 at the San Luis Rey Mission in a church coloring book on California Indians] named by the first padres “the village of the Great Capitan,” since 1934 under the waters of El Capitan Grande Reservoir. Moved to Barona. In 1890 they still spoke their own language.
That some were still speaking it when we moved here.
Who was he, the Great Capitan “Francisco?” Oh, to know his story. That they know. (Within the first month the Christians raped his mother, his aunt, his grandmother, his sister, his wife, his daughter.... ) and the boy Crazy Horse sees the soldiers scalped the vulva of his love and stretched it over their saddle bows and stretched it over their cavalry hats while riding in the ranks.
We’re pretty wiped out by the time we get to the Barona Indian Reservation Casino on Wildcat Canyon Road. The negative magnetism, the spacy Southern California exhaustion, the magnets in the ions sucking ours out. Baby’s together though, purring warmly up Wildcat into the cosmic indigo-blue desert-mountain parking lot.
The bingo palace is quiet, like the hills, the boulders. Gambling is done in whispers when there is no alcohol, no music, no sex shows. This is not Las Vegas. Though it’s open 24 hours. They played bingo out here in the ’50s, George’s baseball team playing Barona’s. They had women on their team. Their chief was a woman (Catherine Welch, 1948-1968, followed by her son, Edward Welch, 1968-1976).
The Carrisoza-Reed sisters, Karoll and Arnold's mothers, heavy, raucous, leaning against their souped-up lowered metallic cars, breasts spilling into the aluminum-canned beers they’re guzzling, so much light, so together, so tuned in to some truth, a joke without words directed to me as I’m walking up, the secret of the universe they laugh at me, something kind, infinitely compassionate, maternal, even if, my worse paranoia, I fear they are also pimping.
That I don’t even know their maiden name.
Of the 31 reservations existing in 1947 in Southern California the Barona Tribe was the first to institute...a wide-scale conservation program. [LeMenager, Off the Main Road]
The Critics and Helen Hunt Jackson
“The lives and work destroyed by the critic must be counted up there with those destroyed by the FBI and the military.” [Meridel Le Sueur quoted in Doubiago, We Sing Our Struggle]
Jackson was dismayed by the focus of the reviews. She soon realized that some readers had missed her whole purpose. “I am sick of hearing that the flight of Alessandro and Ramona is an 'exquisite ideal,’ and not even an allusion to the ejectment of the Temecula band from their homes." [Mathes]
“For the historian of evil, intellectual pose is a spiritual accomplishment.” [Leon Wieseltier, publisher/editor, The New Republic, quoted in personal communication by Gordon Black]
Sentiment, feelings, concern, care — the emotions — are of the “feminine” and the stupid “romantic" masses. To be compassionate and concerned, to demand justice, is silly. To write of love, a love story is particularly galling to the loveless.
The “sentimental” charge against HHJ is sexist, racist, classist, and, bottom line, self-serving. As in:
“Nothing but a morbid sentimentality for the Indian could result in an objection to the rights of the whites to use the water,” Mission Agent Joseph W. Preston of Aqua Caliente (Warner’s] declared in 1888. [Mathes]
As in: [Mission agent S.S.] Lawson personally complained to Commissioner Price about Jackson’s interference. She was busy stirring up discontent and bad feelings among the San Luis Rey Indians.... Furthermore, she had ordered him to request a Temecula Day School teacher to resign or she would report the teacher herself.... Lawson described Jackson as driven by “mere sentiment," having no knowledge of Indian character.... [H]e hoped in the future to be delivered from female commissioners. [Mathes]
James Joyce defined a “sentimentalist" as one who wallows in the feeling without taking responsibility for “the immense debtorship of the thing incurred.” By this definition and the one of the sloppy mind’s embrace of class, race, and gender cliches, it’s clearly the critics and the Indian killers who are guilty of being “sentimental.” For instance, this is sentimental:
During their investigation, Jackson and Kinney had learned that [Temecula Day School teacher Alfred] Golsh fathered a child by a Pala woman and seduced an Indian girl at Pauma.... Furthermore, they learned Golsh had driven four families off their lands in Pala and then patented the land. On one occasion he threatened Patricio Soberano with a gun. Golsh had then filed on the land which included four homes and twenty-nine people.... Because of Golsh’s German nobility background, Lawson had difficulty believing what Jackson and Kinney reported. [Mathes]
The critics dismiss Alessandro as a “romanticized,” “non-Indian” type, a “noble savage,” portrayed as “superior,” not typical of the real Indians, who are — not noble? Not romantic? Inferior?
Is this not racism?
Native American myths and stories, value and belief systems are romantic by white men’s standards. “Romantic” — therefore (like women) dispensable. The psychotic need of the white man not to be sentimental or romantic is the psyche of the conqueror, the capitalist, the critic, the rapist, the murderer — and the majority of employed scholars. As long as the classic scholar holds prejudice against “romanticism,” holds himself against sentiment (one of the Truths), he will be racist and sexist — at the very least, he will be “nonobjective.”
What the critics dismiss so triumphantly is usually the true nature of the human being. Alessandro is typical of all people before the corps’ soul-frying, heart-shriveling, mind-neuroticizing, body-battering, sex-pornographing criticism — that is, before the Conquest.
In reality their “criticism" is just a continuing ploy to cover for the thieves who stole Southern California.
More Racism and Sexism as Lit Criticism
“... her total dedication to protect former Mission Indians whom she felt had been dispossessed of their land not by Catholic Spajn but by Protestant Americans.” [Mathes]
Jackson wrote guardedly but appreciatively of the 79 years of Spanish-Mexican colonial life in California. Uniformly, the critics dismiss this as romantic and sentimental.
This is similar to the gringos’ dismissal of Californio culture.
Americans, bred in a Puritanical atmosphere...earnestly believed that any people who gambled constantly, preferred the riotous fandango to the stately waltz, and patronized cockfights on the Sabbath day had surely sold their souls to the devil; just as they sincerely felt that women who adorned themselves with barbaric jewelry, splashed color on their cheeks and lips, and smoked cigaritos incessantly were little better than strumpets and deserved to be treated as such. Steeped in their own strict moral code, they failed to recognize that the mores of Mexican society were as ethically based as those of their own land. [Ray Allen Billington, The Far Western Frontier, 1830-1860]
Jackson was witnessing the last vestiges of the Californio civilization and as an anthropologist-historian-investigative reporter, as a poet of compassion and heart, her sympathies naturally and correctly aligned with it, just as they did with the Indian.
The people of the United States have never in the least realized that the taking possession of California was not only a conquering of Mexico, but a conquering of
California as well_Words cannot tell the sting.... It is a marvel that a Mexican remained in the country.... [Jackson, Ramona]
In my non-Catholic education the “destruction” of the California Indians has always been blamed on the missions — that is, on the Hispanics. Has it not been “convenient” to say the Native cultures were destroyed before the whites got here?
Any “romanticization” on Jackson’s part is a counter to the murderous racism against Mexicans exploding exponentially throughout the state to justify the whites’ seizing their lands.
Helen’s emphasis is mostly on the San Luis Rey Mission Indians. Is it possible that aspects of life at San Luis Rey were “romantic,” that is, life was cool in some ways? Is it possible that Jackson’s portrayal is an accurate one?
At the height of its prosperity, San Luis Rey was not only the most affluent mission in California but probably in all the Spanish America. [Ralph Wright, editor, California Missions]
In fact, his [Peyri’s] Mission was, among all the missions of California, the one in which those poor Indians received the best treatment. Not only were they well fed and well clad, but on feast days they were given some money. Every Saturday soap was distributed to the women. On such an occasion all the women passed in review before the Missionary Father, and while two men fished from two enormous baskets for each woman the piece of soap to be given to her, Father Antonio [Peyri] addressed his words to her. He knew them all. One he kindly commended, another he reproved gently. One he offered a good-natured courtesy, another a paternal admonition. [Auguste Duhaut-Cilly, 1827]
Alessandro says to Ramona, “My father says that some of [the missions] were dreadful things, when bad men had power. Never any such things at San Luis Rey.” The extraordinary story of the beloved Father Peyri, for instance, is not only in her fictional Ramona, but also in her documentary essay, “Father Junipero and His Work.” [Glimpses of California] However, in the factual account, it’s 500 Indians who galloped to San Diego to stop his leaving, as opposed to 300 in the novel, and four as opposed to one who managed to climb aboard and sail away with the padre eventually “to Rome, where one of them became a priest.” (This is also an official story of the Church, the number being 500.) HHJ cooled it for the fiction!
As much as any writer. I’ve raged against mission corruption and enslavement. The elitist, evil assumption of “saving” others to make them as yourself is the most vile of all puritanical Christian perversities. The Malibu (Maliwu) people self-extincted with universal abortions rather than birth children into “salvation,” that is slavery, by the Fathers. The Church history itself tells of incessant wars with the military. At San Gabriel the priests were locked up when the military went on Indian-hunting expeditions. At San Diego the Mission was moved six miles up Mission Gorge to disassociate with the rapists at the Presidio.
HHJ threatens the two institutional racisms of white California, Indian and Mexican. Ramona, 300 printings — on your local supermarket bookrack today— threatens still another institution: the “superior,” (ruling) (military) class.
So the attack against her is of the other biggie; gender. Is...sexist. The critics in cahoots with the corps continue to obfuscate the real life and real-life facts, mentally and emotionally retarding us, as another century plays out its stupid Western end.
I hear my father crying, “The county ‘supes’ made Ramona a dump.”
Sunday morning, November 8, Moon goes into Taurus, 3:19 p.m.
“I remember our visit in 1977 and talking about Ray. As I recall I saw him and we discussed his living near Long Beach in the Wilmington area. He had just come back from overseas as he worked for an American company in Southeast Asia and had been to Vietnam....” [Sharon Rollins Warnock, letter, June 1990]
Mama calls. “Rancho California at Temecula was Reagan’s land, the Hugh Vail Cattle Ranch. Changed hands in 1964 when he started running for governor. Movie star money. Do you remember Leo Carrillo’s rancho around Irvine? He was Pancho, Cisco Kid’s sidekick. We would take rides down there, across his land, you kids would play cow poker.”
Was he descended from the Leather Jacket Carrillo that annihilated the Pamo?
Alfredo Arteaga calls from Berkeley. He’s completing his dissertation comparing Sor Juana and Shakespeare — that is, a female Mexican convent poet with a male English Protestant poet. The two wrote at the same time. I say, “Ramona is the cowboy capital of Southern California, but I never realized I was raised a cowgirl. When I lived here there weren’t horses, nor cows either. It was too poor.”
“I am always in love with the myth and beauty of San Diego,” he replies. “I think it must be great to live there. Until I get there. Then, the military, the border, the nuclear power, the brutal reality of the place hits."
I stay in all morning, afternoon, reading Ramona history and the Sunday paper.
“MASTER SPY” HUSBAND IS A SUSPECT IN 4 KILLINGS. While authorities intensified the search yesterday for a British man suspected of killing his wife and three children in Rancho Santa Fe, London newspapers reported that the missing man... worked ten years as an agent for England's M16 and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
I call Stanley Barnes, Ramon’s best friend in junior high, now Grant’s Pass, Oregon’s jail chaplain.
“I had Southern California run a teletype on the computer, looking for a driver’s license. Doesn’t look good. There was one Ray Rice, but he was too old."
Then he exclaims what he always exclaims. “Sharon Edens, Ray told me everything you guys did. That's how I learned about sex! I know things about you I could never tell you....”
I gave him my books, hoping he’d see he could tell me. But no way. He knows things about me I can’t know. In the afternoon, Ronnie Rodolf at my door.
“God, Sharon," he keeps saying so wonderfully, as I gesture him to the seat, flop myself on the bed, the pillows against the headboard. “You’re just like in high school.”
He is not the same boy, he seems, actually a lot like my father. I hear admiration of my father in his voice.
He tells me of his two marriages, the first one with Marilyn May, the sophomore I had to compete against for cheerleader in the special runoff elections for last place. He did her wrong. Now, recently the woman he left Marilyn for has done him wrong. “So I’ve been on both sides of he spectrum, I understand.
“I was Democratic back in the '50s and ’60s. People were farmers then, Ramona had an agriculture base. Now, it’s business. Your dad was one of the first entrepreneurs. In the 70s with San Diego Estates, a different class of people comes in. These people have a love more of business than the native Ramonan, or, they work down the hill. So, that’s when the conservationists come in.
“Being under the wing of San Diego County has caused a lot of strife. In the ’70s the town started to grow — 7000 to 10,000 to 13,000. Your dad was responsible, I think, and Jim McWhorter, for the commercial zoning out on the highway.
“In ’73 I joined the Chamber of Commerce. But the fact is the Chamber has never been interested in commerce. They’re interested in the annual Ramona Fair, the parade, 4-H, the Ramona Beauty Pageant, the rodeo — the Chamber’s lost money every year. They owed Bank of America several thousands of dollars. I realized it’s a continuation of high school. So I refused to be president of the Chamber of Commerce. We’re not going anywhere! It’s not my opinion, it’s the truth — I don’t care if you say this in my name. It’s age, I guess. I remember when I was the youngest member, I was kind of proud, but then I realized people do the Chamber for their personal ego, to get their name in the limelight.
“Back in the mid-’70s the Municipal Advisory Council was formed with the purpose of being a direct link to the county, to push this community to be more independent. It was Oscar Pike, Glae MacDonald, and myself. It lasted one year. We ran into the massive problem of incorporation.
“Another thing, from 72 on, the County of San Diego had become a no-growth county. Prior to January 72, you could take 10 acres, you could divide it into 4 parcels in three or four weeks for $35. Today the same thing costs about $50,000. Two years ago 60 acres on Archie Moore Road cost $265,000 to subdivide.
“Ramona was first zoned in September 1963. In 1978 the county made radical changes, a complete downgrade on all the zoning in town. They destroyed people’s property, particularly on the west end. It had to be 8 acres to build a house on it.
“Yes. Because of the requirements of the environmentalists. And it takes two years because the county is in such bad shape, this is review-and-review-the-same....
“On 4 of the parcels on Archie Moore Road — those were 4- to 8-acre parcels out of a 32-acre site — approximately 24 acres were set aside for open space. It’s brush land! It’s ludicrous! For every 4-acre piece of ground, an acre and a half of open space has to be set aside. Who wants the county having the right to come on your property?
“There needs to be a check and balance, but Ramona’s been checked! The bureaucracy of the courts.. .has created a class society.
“Take Mira Mesa. All that is city now. The big developers have been the clout and their people, like Ray Watts, have gotten their stuff approved.
“Fallbrook, Ramona, Valley Center, and Alpine, in that order in size, are the four major unincorporated cities. Fallbrook is a fair-weather community. They’re even stranger than Ramona because they don’t have open valley. Their per capita is higher, and they’re up against the back entrance to Camp Pendleton. Few people realize it’s a weapons arsenal...cluster bombs, smart bombs, all sorts of bombs...nuclear bombs....
“Valley Center is really a mix. They have no stores, no Main Street, but a golf course that only millionaires go to. Valley Center is a development.
“Alpine is kind of like Ramona.
“Folks from San Diego, L.A., want to drive through our community and see open space. It’s the small guy, like your dad, who can’t hold ten acres. The county has said in response to our protests, ‘Okay, Ramona, you can have more apartments. We’ll send you directly all our derelicts.
Richard L Carrico’s 1987 award-winning, otherwise important book Strangers in a Stolen Land, American Indians in San Diego, I850~1880 (Sierra Oaks Publishing Company) taps right into the old boy’s club regarding HHJ. Carrico, a professor of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University, dismisses all of Jackson’s work as being in the “noble savage” category; “ [M]issionaries and do-gooders — such as Helen Hunt Jackson — descended upon the natives.” This is outrageous. Anyone doing research as substantial as Carrico’s knows better. He’s
going along with the prevailing prejudice and attitude of his profs, his superiors, the dominant San Diego militaristic-political climate, and even probably, contemporary male Indians.
Helen Hunt Jackson is the progenitor of Richard Carrico’s field. One could have believed that the intent of his book is as hers — to try and do a little good. In one exception, when it serves his purpose, Carrico uses Jackson more accurately:
After a highly romanticized trip through San Diego County, author and activist Helen Hunt Jackson summed up the degree to which Native Americans were subjected to violence. “The Indians' own lives are in continual danger, it being safe to shoot an , Indian at any time when only Indian witnesses are present."
But we see how the brainwashed, subjective mind of the critic fails his human soul, his Work, that is, falls in with the shooters. Can one take a “highly romanticized trip”? Such a thing is not possible, not “logical,” much less grammatical. Not scholarly objective.
One journeys... into the Unknown—in Helen’s case; rigorously. Carrico falls prey to the Fathers’ stereotyping of Jackson. This is the epitome of male chauvinism, no different than the August 1883 San Luis Rey Star’s editorial calling Jackson a busybody and the “meddlesome feminine pet of the Honorable Secretary.” No woman should occupy the position of Indian Commissioner; it is no place for any member of the feminine gender. ” [Mathes]
Yeah. They might tend toward doing good.
This is part 2 of 5. Part 1 | 3 | 4 | 5