Harbor Gathers to the Call of the Elders

On October 20, 2017, in Uncategorized, by Zamná Ávila

By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

Columbus Day was a flash point on the 525th anniversary of his voyage to the New World. Recently, the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-1, Councilman Joe Buscaino opposed, to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. But the struggle isn’t over for indigenous people. The education system still largely ignores native histories.

“The history of this country is not told properly,” said John Funmaker, a community activist and spiritual Ho-Chunk leader. “It’s often ended in violence.”

For Native Americans, oral history is and has been a way to heal and reconnect with their ancestors. It offers a pathway to generations through time, identity and culture. Many Winters Elders’ Gathering, Oct. 12 through 15 at Angels Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro will offer that opportunity for Harbor Area residents.

“The elders will bring their history through words, songs, dance,” said George Funmaker, John’s son. “We wanted to come back to the earth and return back to our culture through our elders…. Being in the city, we are disconnected from a lot of the culture. That’s why it’s important to have this event.”

The mission system, for example, still is venerated in California, ignoring the thousands of families torn apart when children were displaced and forced to assimilate Eurocentric standards. The Catholic church even canonized Junipero Serra who forced the conversion of many natives.

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