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Sullivan and Bonsall students collaborate for SoCal Indigenous Day


Last updated 12/16/2021 at 9:06am

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Sullivan Middle School and Bonsall High School students collaborated for a SoCal Indigenous Day presentation Nov. 30.

“I’m so proud of the way it went,” said Sullivan math, elective studies (study skills), and physical education teacher Domingo Anguiano.

Anguiano was the faculty organizer, although he noted that the program was primarily put together by the students themselves. “It was all student-led,” he said. “I just kind of provided some help and some support.”

Bonsall High School and Sullivan Middle School are on the same campus. The event was held in an outside area of Bonsall High School. Bonsall Unified School District Superintendent Joseph Clevenger estimates that approximately 900 Sullivan Middle School and Bonsall High School students along with parents and community members were in attendance.

“That was probably the largest crowd that any of these students had spoken to, so I’m sure there were some nerves but they did a great job,” Clevenger said.

“Each student had a topic,” Anguiano said.

The students conducted the research as well as gave the presentations. “It was great to see them do their own research and write their own pieces,” Anguiano said.

“We had the kids take on the entire design of the program,” Clevenger said.

The first topic was the history of the area tribes prior to Caucasian presence in what is now Southern California. The Pala Indian Reservation is within historic Luiseno land (there were no formal boundaries between tribal lands, but often mountains separated tribes) but, in 1903, the Cupeno people were evicted from their Warner Springs land and relocated to the Pala reservation so the second topic addressed the removal of the Cupeno from Warner Springs and their settlement in Pala.

Other topics focused on the native languages, beadwork, clothing including the significance of color, food, gourds (whose uses included rattles), and rattling. The activities included Pala tribal member and Inter-Tribal Bird Singers member Wayne Nelson leading a dance event in which Caucasian and other students joined the students with indigenous tribal heritage.

“It was a great day,” said Pala tribal member and BUSD board member Eric Ortega.

The students also were responsible for setting up and tearing down the temporary event facilities.

Clevenger was the Sullivan Middle School principal in 2017 when he, Anguiano, and Ortega collaborated with students for what was initially Pala Valley Day. “We wanted to do something that would allow the Native American students to have pride in their culture,” Ortega said.

Pala Valley Day recognized the Luiseno and Cupeno people who lived there. “Before it was the San Luis Rey River Valley it was the Pala Valley,” Ortega said.

The BUSD also has students of Cahuilla, Morongo, and Iipay (a Kumeyaay region) descent. “The name SoCal Indigenous Day would be more applicable,” Anguiano said.

The name was changed this year. The students proposed the change. “This is great. It’s a sign that they’re trying to own it,” Anguiano said.

Anguiano requested that the students work with Ortega on the name change. Ortega asked them why they wanted to use SoCal Indigenous Day. “They said the six words that I just love to hear: ‘We want to make it bigger,’” Ortega said.

November is Native American Heritage Month, so the event is held in November. “This is a tremendously valuable opportunity,” Clevenger said.

“We are real happy what it’s done,” Ortega said. “Next year we’re going to try to make it bigger.”


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