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Sacred Sites: Pechanga Requests Prayers to Protect Ancestral Landscape From Massive Open-Pit Mine

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Members of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians request your prayers on National Sacred Places Prayer Days, observed June 16-24.

Over the past year, the tribe has ardently worked to defend its original lands from Granite Construction's proposed Liberty Quarry—an open-pit mine that would stretch 414 acres between San Diego County and the southern border of Temecula, California that is rooted in the Pechanga creation story. The tribe has called Temecula home for more than 10,000 years.

“The phrase that comes to mind first is preposterous,” said Paul Macarro, the tribe’s cultural coordinator, in reference to Granite's claims that the proposed quarry site is located “outside the boundaries” of the most significant places in the tribe’s story, reported the

In reality, the proposed quarry would gouge into a sacred mountain within the Luiseño People's place of origin. The area is home to the Kammalam (ancestors in the form of rocks).

After numerous public hearings before the Riverside County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, the quarry was denied on August 31, 2011. According to, the commission rejected the quarry due to potential health risks, such as poor air quality, and environmental hazards, like visual and noise impacts, fire and emergency response. The Tribe was not consulted by the County of Riverside on these impacts during environmental review.

But the tribe's seeming victory could be short-lived if Granite successfully submits a revised application to the mine in the near future. The Board has voted 3:2 to approve the inadequate environmental document under the California Environmental Quality Act. The decision keeps the Luiseño Ancestral Origin Landscape at risk.

Parts of this Origin Landscape have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973 as the Murrieta Creek Archaeological Area (exva Temeeku) and are also listed in the state's Sacred Lands File Inventory.

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Granite Construction wants to blast into the sacred mountain to produce aggregate rock. The quarry could operate for 75 years and, even after reclamation, would remain a "permanent scar" within the sacred landscape, according to the Pechanga people. The quarry would also intrude on the headwaters of the Santa Margarita River, the last remaining free flowing river to reach the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. The giant pit would be located adjacent to the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve, which also includes part of the Origin Landscape.

Kelcey Stricker, one of the San Diego State University (SDSU) researchers working at a research field station west of the proposed quarry site, said some animals, especially mountain lions, would leave the area rather than adapt to the changes brought about by the quarry including noise and light.

Furthermore, the quarry would kill the mountain and forever disturb the sanctity of this incredibly beautiful and scenic area.

Pechanga respectfully requests prayer that:

1) Efforts to permanently prevent mining in any form at this location are successful and that

2) Tribal efforts to have this Origin Landscape formally recognized and protected will be successful.

For more information on the efforts to protect the Luiseño Ancestral Origin Landscape from the Liberty Quarry, contact Paul Macarro, Pechanga Cultural Coordinator at: or (951) 770.8102 or Jacob Mejia at: or (951) 770.2595.