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Esselen Nations Respond to 'Troubling' Vandalism at Mission Carmel

The recent desecration to a statue of Junipero Serra at Mission Carmel is extremely troubling to Louise Miranda Ramirez, Tribal Chairwoman.

The recent desecration to a statue of Junipero Serra that stands at Mission Carmel is extremely troubling to Louise Miranda Ramirez, Tribal Chairwoman of the Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation (OCEN). Her tribal homelands are Monterey County, and her own ancestors are buried at Mission Carmel.

“We do not approve nor condone the recent desecration. We do not express ourselves in this manner, despite decades of victimization by others. We are a respectful and prayerful group of people,” Ramirez said.

On September 10, Ramirez made arrangements with Bishop Garcia of the Diocese of Carmel and others to hold a prayer ceremony on September 23 to coincide with the canonization of Serra by Pope Francis. Many California tribal people planned on holding prayer ceremonies for the ancestors at the missions located within their homelands.

“All of us simply wanted to talk with our ancestors buried throughout the mission system, and tell them that we did everything we could for them to stop the canonization of Serra, but our pleas were ignored by Pope Francis. I explained that we planned on gathering at one side of the mission, where some of the graves are marked. We excluded no one, even non-Natives who wanted to learn more were allowed to sit with us and hear our prayers. All we asked was that no one who was in vehement support of the sainthood be allowed in, because we didn’t want the anger and negativity to affect our prayers,” Ramirez explained. “What the vandals did not understand was that the bones of our ancestors are buried throughout the mission, even under the Junipero Serra statue. It has been deemed a ‘hate crime’ against Europeans by some, however the grave of ‘Old Gabriel’ our ancestor was vandalized too. Junipero Serra’s grave site is inside and well protected.”

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Courtesy of Chairwoman Ramirez

Louise Miranda Ramirez, Chairwoman of the Esselen Nation, speaking at the annual Return of the Butterflies in Monterey, California. She wants to set the record straight about the vandalism at Mission Carmel.

RELATED: ‘Saint of Genocide’ Message Left at Mission Carmel After Serra Canonization

Ramirez explained that OCEN’s Tribal Council makes every effort to cooperate and communicate fully with one another and their neighbors throughout Monterey, California.

“We want to build a partnership with the mission, so that we can continue to pray for our ancestors who are buried at Mission Carmel. Our goal as a Tribal Nation is to work with all city and county governments within our homeland of Monterey County,” Ramirez said. “In our opinion, the person or persons responsible for this vandalism was trying to destroy our relationship with the community of Monterey County.