Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sainthood for founder of California missions angers Native American groups

Tribal chairwoman Louise Miranda Ramirez of the Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation joined members of several Native American groups in a protest on Easter Sunday at the historic Carmel Mission in Northern California, once the headquarters of the mission system founded by Franciscan priest Junipero Serra, who is buried there.

The gathering sought to honor their ancestors buried at the landmark mission and protest plans to canonize Serra, the devout Franciscan priest who converted thousands of previously uncontacted Indians to Catholicism, forcibly stripping them of their kinship ties, culture and languages in the process.

“We lost everything” because of Serra, said Miranda Ramirez, who traces her ancestors directly to the Carmel Mission. “We were not allowed to be with our people. … We lost contact with cousins … We lost the family ties … Our language was gone.”

She is now among hundreds of tribal activists the length of California stepping up opposition to the decision by Pope Francis to canonize the Mallorca-born priest as the centerpiece of his first visit to the United States as pontiff in September.


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