Village News Reporter
In past years, Sullivan Middle School and Bonsall High School students have held the annual SoCal Indigenous Day presentation at a single location. This year the presentations were in individual classrooms.
“It was action-packed and eventful,” said Sullivan teacher Domingo Anguiano.
Anguiano was the faculty organizer, although he noted that the program was primarily put together by the students themselves.
“They picked a topic and they researched it,” Anguiano said.
Current Bonsall Unified School District superintendent Joseph Clevenger was the Sullivan Middle School principal in 2017 when he, Anguiano, and Pala tribal member and BUSD board member Eric Ortega collaborated with students for what was initially Pala Valley Day. The intent was an activity which would allow Native American students to have pride in their culture.
Pala Valley Day recognized the Luiseno and Cupeno people who lived in what was the Pala Valley before being known as the San Luis Rey River Valley. BUSD also has students of Cahuilla, Morongo, and Iipay (a Kumeyaay region) descent, and after students felt that SoCal Indigenous Day would be a more applicable description and would enhance the event, the name was changed last year. November is Native American Heritage Month, so the event is held in November.
Although the students took the lead in the involvement, Anguiano desired collaboration with tribal members. “I advised them to speak to the elders,” he said. “I made sure that they reached out to the elders.”
The Bonsall High School students also mentored the Sullivan Middle School students. Former Sullivan and Bonsall High School student Mauvi Pauu, who is a Pala tribal member, also took a leadership role.
“It was very satisfying to work on this amazing project,” Pauu said. “I was very grateful working with the middle school students and high school students that were involved.”
Because the presentations were in social studies classes, the high school and middle school social studies teachers needed to put aside their other planned lessons for SoCal Indigenous Day. “We were just so appreciative that they were so flexible,” Anguiano said.
The presence of visual aids gave the other students a learning advantage which merited approval from the social studies teachers. “It’s a lot better that way than learning from a book,” Anguiano said.
The presentations included slideshows as well as visual aids. Anguiano and Pauu reviewed the slides. “It was done very professionally,” Anguiano said.
“It was rewarding at the end to see them in the presentations and see them perform,” Pauu said.
“They also brought in personal artifacts,” Anguiano said.
Those artifacts included peon sticks (peon is a game played by two teams of four players apiece; one side guesses which hand the bone is in and tally sticks are awarded for correct guesses), rattles, beadworks, and hunting tools.
“We put a big spin on ‘let’s educate’,” Anguiano said. “The Native American students actually taught a lesson.”
More than 30 students gave presentations. The presenters were from both schools. “I think that was really important,” Anguiano said.
Ortega is also the assistant station manager for Pala Rez Radio, and the station provided a booth at the campus shared by Sullivan Middle School and Bonsall High School. The activities outside classrooms also included presentations by Pala tribal member and Inter-Tribal Bird Singers performer Wayne Nelson and rattle musicians Guy Trujillo and George Zuniga. Nelson, Trujillo, and Zuniga also shared information during breaks.
“I can’t wait for next year,” Pauu said.
“I can only wait for the future to see everything improving,” Anguiano said.