The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians held it’s 20th annual California Native American Day this past Friday, Sept. 27, wrapping up it’s week long California Indian Cultural Awareness Conference at Cal State San Bernardino.

Serving as the master of ceremonies for the event was Assemblyman James Ramos, who had just returned from the state capital in Sacramento where the state’s governor had earlier declared it Native American Day. The proclamation also cited an apology Gov. Newsom made earlier this year that said he “took the initial and necessary step to formally apologize to California Native Americans for the exploitation and violence our predecessors inflicted upon them.” And “in doing so, we collectively recognized that California Native Americans have resisted and persisted despite the destructive and shameful actions of our ancestors.” The governor is also “creating a Truth and Healing Council” that will help citizens and members of California’s tribes to “heal together.”

In a letter from The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians dated June 29 the tribe responded to Gov. Newsom’s apology saying in part, “If given the opportunity, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will be a proud member of this Truth and Healing Council, and continue to answer to the call of Yawa’, a Serrano term meaning “to act on one’s beliefs.” Yawa’ made possible our survival from attempts to exterminate us. Today, Yawa’ is the driving force behind our tribe’s dedication to connect all who share this land with Native American traditions and history, and we all share in that responsibility.”

The aforementioned celebration featured traditional Northern California brush dancers, Southern California bird singers and dancers. There was also a night market with food vendors and demonstrations of traditional ways and cultural knowledge.

Also enjoying the festivities were James Alfred and Linálá Jane Topasna who were dancing with the dancers.

According to the tribe an estimated 2,500 attended the weeklong conference.

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