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Indigenous Voices of San Juan Capistrano

Indigenous Voices of San Juan Capistrano: The Acjachemen (Juaneño) Community - OC Public Libraries and Cal Humanities

Video Series

"We're Still Here"

As one of Orange County's indigenous people, the Acjachemen community possesses a unique cultural continuity and communal memory of Orange County which spans its entire history.

The term Juaneño was attached to the tribe during their involvement with Mission San Juan Capistrano in the 1770s. Today, many tribal members identify themselves as Acjachemen, the tribe’s traditional name.

As Orange County's population has grown significantly since the establishment of Mission San Juan Capistrano, many people do not realize the indigenous Acjachemen people still live here today, still observing many of the same traditions they always have.

Watch the trailer for OC Public Libraries' Cal Humanities Community Stories project: "Indigenous Voices of San Juan Capistrano: The Acjachemen (Juaneño) Indian Community"

Generation to Generation

Ellen Schneider and Teeter Romero on Acjachemen basket weaving and mulit-generation continuation of their local weaving group.
Know the History, Know the Language

Harley “Wick” Lobo, remembers his older brother, Chief Clarence Lobo, and discusses the importance of remembering Acjachemen history.
Growing Up in San Juan Capistrano

Adreienne “Gigi” Nieblas on growing up in San Juan Capistrano and developing SJC’s Northwest Open Space park for the benefit of future generations.
That's Our Power

Adelia Sandoval on the Acjachemen ancestors' preservation of tribal culture during the historical Mission period
Always Respect the Homeland

Adelia Sandoval on the benefits of federal recognition and on respecting the "old ways" of her tribal ancestors in the modern world
We are the Acjachemen People

David Avitia on conducting genealogical research for the tribe and on the Acjachemen experience during and after San Juan Capistrano's Mission Period
Hawk Shadow

David Avitia presents some examples of Acjachemen accessories, weapons, and traditional currency and discusses contemporary tribal cultural events
Sharing Stories

Maria Young on inter-generational sharing of traditional songs, and on growing up attending tribal hall meetings

What Difference Does It Make?

Ruth Lobo remembers the California Indian Lands Settlement payment of 1964 and ponders the struggle to achieve federal tribal recognition
Connection to the Ancestors

Domingo Belardes, on learning about traditional Acjachemen culture and the Blas Aguilar Adobe's role in passing traditional practices to the next generation.
We're Still Here

Domingo Belardes, on documenting Acjachemen history and carrying on traditional practices that continue to the present day.
Why We Persist

Joyce Stanfield Perry discusses the importance of caring for sacred sites and the origins of the tribe's language revitalization program.

What Does an Indian Look Like?

Joyce Stanfield Perry, on quantifying Native American identity and on sharing traditional cultural practices and religious beliefs with new generations.
We All Want To Be Together

San Juan Capistrano Patriarch, Thomas "Happy" Hunn, recalls how San Juan Capistrano has changed over his 80+ years.
A Foot in Two Worlds

Stephen Rios on protecting Native American access to traditional resources, and his father's experience at the Sherman Institute for Indians.
Ties to the Land

Stephen Rios on San Juan Capistrano's Northwest Open Space project, efforts to achieve Federal recognition, and the historical Rios Adobe.
Gifts from the Creator

Rebecca Robles on tribal members' sense of responsibility to protect and preserve historical and sacred sites.
Across from the Elderberry Tree

Ellen Sue Olivares Schneider on traditional basket weaving materials and processes and the importance of elderberry and oak trees in Acjachemen culture
It's a Dirty Job, but It's Fun

Teeter Marie Olivares Romero on obstacles to gathering traditional basket weaving components and modern substitute materials.
Still Sticking Together

Richard Mendez discusses Acjachemen culture and tribal cohesion despite roadblocks in the federal recognition process.
Those Walls are us

Jerry Nieblas on the Acjachemen (Juaneño) community's centuries-long relationship with Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Backbone of the Community

Jerry Nieblas on the strength and perseverance of early Native American women
Let the Chips Fall Where They May

Joe Ocampo on federal tribal recognition.
 We'll Always Be Here


Louis Robles: "We were Californian before it was California."

OC Public Libraries wishes to thank Cal Humanities and our community partners for assisting with this project: Mission San Juan Capistrano, City of San Juan Capistrano, OC Dept. of Education, California Audiovisual Preservation Project, and Cultural Anthropologist, Stephen O’Neil.

  Indigenous Voices of San Juan Capistrano: The Acjachemen (Juaneño) Community was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit