By Serran Soledad
Last Saturday, community members marched in Ventura (officially known as San Buenaventura) as part of a mobilization to raise awareness of the genocide of indigenous children, exemplified by the mass graves discovered on the grounds of colonial boarding schools throughout Canada.
The action was organized by the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Group of Ventura County (MMIWG)—the march began with a rally at the front of the San Buenaventura City Hall. Members of MMIWG faced the crowd holding a banner reading, “You are not forgotten,” next to photos of indigenous youth from the past.
One member of MMIWG, a native Chumash woman, gave a speech mourning the lives of children lost to the Catholic-run boarding schools in Canada and the United States, where similar mass graves go mostly undiscovered.
“The politicians they want us to vote for are part of the same system we’re still fighting!” she said, reminding the crowd that native people still face the affects of colonization, suffering from high rates of poverty and social ills like alcoholism and drug addiction.
After the speech, marchers moved silently through a crowded Main St. Halfway to the park, someone in the crowd broke the silence and began chanting “The children died, the US lied!” inspiring the rest of the march to join along.
The march soon arrived at Mission Park, which sits across from the San Buenaventura Mission, built in the era of Spanish colonialism. The crowd gathered as more speeches were given, bringing focus to the colonization of the native Chumash people. Thousands of Chumash were murdered while in servitude at the San Buenaventura Mission, with the mass graves sitting under the park where the rally was held.
One activist spoke to the crowd about the tradition of indigenous resistance to colonialism. In 1824, the Chumash indians of the region rose up in a general revolt when several villages banded together against three Spanish Missions.
The rally concluded with the performance of a native song and marchers taping a banner reading, “Honor Indigenous Lives, Fight Imperialism!” to the front of the San Buenaventura Mission.
“In the 1500’s, Juan Cabrillo was chased out by the Chumash, they were stoning him,” a member of MMIWG told Tribune. Another member said, “We are inspired by our ancestors, so that’s a huge influence for why we fight today.”
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