Articles of Interest

WEAVING A CONNECTION: Native American artists keep ancient crafts alive By Erin Donnelly, Orange County Register on Feb 7, 2016 at 12:00 a.m.

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. — Dressed in traditional Native American garb, Teeter Romero twists the reeds in her hand and starts to weave the materials together in the mission courtyard.


She doesn’t need to look. Her hands have memorized how the juncus and deer grass intertwine to make the baskets that are an homage to her Native American heritage.

The Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, the original inhabitants of San Juan Capistrano, used the baskets for storage and cooking centuries ago. Romero and her fellow basket weavers work to maintain the ancient art with the baskets serving a new purpose in modern times.

“They show who we are. They are our history,” Romero said.

Romero joins a group of women working to keep the ancient art alive with demonstrations for schoolchildren at the mission twice a month. The process is growing increasingly difficult as development and regulations make it harder for the weavers to gather the materials they need.

Romero became interested in weaving because of her family connections. Her mother served as a docent at the mission, dressing in Spanish regalia and giving sewing demonstrations, but Romero wanted to get back to the roots of her Juaneño people.

“All I knew is that Indians made baskets. I just went from there,” Romero said with a laugh as she curled the fibers around her finger.

Starting in the 1970s, Romero learned more about the art form and started attending basket weaving and gathering events across the state. She helped start a weekly weaving class that grew a steady following over the years.

The process creates a community and can be meditative, said Ellen Sue Olivares, Romero’s niece who works with her at the mission. Behind each basket is a weaving circle where storiesare passed along and relationships are forged.

“Each basket tells a story. I can remember what I was doing or talking about when I made it,” Olivares said. “It’s personal.”

Since Romero first started weaving, the materials have become harder to come by. Sometimes, Native American weavers will use rafia or other materials sold at craft stores. The original baskets, however, were made with materials of the earth that were used by their tribes for thousands of years.

Juncus, deer grass and yucca are reeds native to the area that once grew in abundance in Southern California. Now, most of the materials are on private property or have been built over.

Romero gathers in stretches along Ortega Highway where juncus still grows, though she is careful along the road. Her gathering partner once was covered in rash after picking along a road that was sprayed with pesticides.

Diania Caudell, a board member of the California Indian Basketweavers Association, is a longtime basket weaver alongside Romero and works to maintain areas in Southern California where the plants still grow and to get access to private land that has the materials they need.

For them, the art is more than a hobby. It is a connection to their ancestors — a remnant of their culture that is often washed away by urbanization.

basket copy

“Baskets unite almost all the people around the world,” Caudell said. “Before pottery was made and metal was molded, what did they do? They wove. Baskets tie everyone together.”

For now, the weavers make due with what they have. Olivares received a grant from the Heard Museum in Arizona and the Idyllwild Arts Academy to pursue basket weaving and go on gathering trips. Caudell has a few nooks in northern San Diego, where she now lives, where she can find materials. A new park space being planned for the Juaneño people to use might include juncus and other materials.

Native American church, known for using peyote and marijuana, to open branches in former O.C. pot shops

marry jane

A national Native American church that courts have allowed to possess and distribute peyote soon will open branches in three former Orange County pot shops where they plan to use and dispense marijuana and other illegal drugs as part of religious ceremonies.

What’s more, church members say almost anyone can join the religion and partake in its hallucinogenic sacraments, regardless of whether they have Native American heritage.

Representatives from the Oklevueha Native American Church, which claims over 200 branches nationwide, said they recently signed leases in Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Westminster, targeting former marijuana dispensary storefronts where landlords don’t mind having pot on the premises.

And as much as those cities have fought to boot the church’s pot shop predecessors – conducting a police raid on one last week in Costa Mesa and receiving a court order Wednesday for another to shut down in Huntington Beach – several federal court rulings might make the cities powerless in preventing the church from storing and distributing drugs at those same locations.

Matthew Pappas, the church’s attorney and a Long Beach-based medical marijuana lawyer, said his client’s legal grounds to keep and dispense drugs derive from a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing another Native American church to use hallucinogenic tea and a 2000 federal law banning local zoning from burdening religious practices.

“It is not up to other people to determine the subjective legitimacy of any religion,” Pappas said. “This religion at its very core is that it is the earth that gives us sacraments and everything that we need to heal.”

In 2005, after the church had been raided by authorities, the Utah Supreme Court ruled church members who used peyote were exempt from prosecution because they used it “in bona fide religious ceremonies.”

“I want to bring these healing medicines to the masses,” church founder James Mooney said. “We don’t knock on doors and tell everyone we have the answers. ... We come from a society that derives from Christian-Judeo beliefs. So it’s hard to get beyond that religion is what they say it is.”

But Orange County cities said they might not let the church operate freely, especially if it plans to sell the sacramental drugs.

“Whatever they call themselves, that’s a violation of our ordinance prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries,” Costa Mesa spokesman Tony Dodero said. “We’re going to enforce our ordinance regardless.”

Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates said the city’s response might depend on how the church operates once in town.

“Although the state and federal governments give different treatment to this issue, the city’s ability to regulate these businesses based on land use has not changed,” Gates said.

“If it is a normal medical marijuana dispensary, as retail and distribution, claiming to be a church, that would be problematic,” Gates said.

If those cities take legal action against the church, Pappas said his client would not hesitate to sue them. In November, Pappas and the church filed a federal lawsuit against Sonoma County after sheriff’s deputies raided a church branch there and destroyed marijuana plants.

The three Orange County locations are transitioning from pot shops to churches, and Mooney said he’ll be visiting the new branches within the month to bless them and make them holy so the sacramental healing can begin in Orange County.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7960 or

CannaNative Announces Strategic Alliance with National Indian Cannabis Coalition (NICC)

CannaNative Announces Strategic Alliance with National Indian Cannabis Coalition (NICC)

Inter-Tribal Coalition Condemns Crop Destruction; Set to Assist Sovereign Nations with Enforcement of Legal Rights While Restoring Cannabis Crops and Cannabis-Based Business on Tribal Lands

San Diego, CA – November 20, 2015
– CannaNative, LLC (“CannaNative”) — the premiere Native American-owned and operated company created to assist more than 560 tribal nations located throughout the U.S. with utilizing the cannabis industry to gain true sovereignty — is proud to announce that it has developed a strategic alliance with the National Indian Cannabis Coalition (NICC).

The historic alliance was formed in direct response to the recent destruction of cannabis crops by U.S. law enforcement agencies on tribal lands. NICC is taking measures to ensure that Indian Country’s sovereign right to participate in this industry, as States are allowed to, is protected.   There is no other Native American-owned and operated group that is advocating for the rights of all tribes to this extent.

Jeff Doctor, Executive Director of NICC, emphasizes, “Tribal leadership is charged with protecting their communities, their investments and most importantly, sovereignty. We are at a critical point in history and with tribal support, NICC is taking the lead advocating for Indian Country on this issue in Washington, D.C.”

CannaNative and NICC are actively educating tribal leaders by providing access to accurate information in order to develop a successful cannabis-based economy within their sovereign nations. CannaNative is led by former tribal Chairmen and proven business leaders. The
NICC is based in Washington, D.C., and is led by proven leaders with vast experience including: tribal law, U.S. law, regulatory policy establishment and enforcement, economics, business, agriculture, health and wellness.

"CannaNative is at the forefront of the cannabis industry in Indian Country and the National Indian Cannabis Coalition is leading the way for Indian Country on Capitol Hill,” stated Anthony Rivera, Co-Founder of CannaNative. “We have joined forces to ensure the utmost protection of tribal sovereignty and reservation commerce. Together we are setting the standard to guide sovereign tribes to a safe and lucrative future in the cannabis industry."

At the 2015 White House Tribal Nations Conference, President Obama (who also refers to himself as President Barack Black Eagle) is quoted as saying, “I’ve often acknowledged the painful history, the broken promises that are part of our past. And I’ve said that while we couldn’t change the past, working together, nation-to-nation, we could build a better future. I believed this not only because America has a moral obligation to do right by the tribes and treaty obligations, but because the success of our tribal communities is tied up with the success of America as a whole."

Hemp cannabis has a robust history with Native Americans. Farmers in Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut in 17th Century America were ordered by law to grow “Indian hemp”. By the early 18th century, hemp was considered to be legal tender and one could pay their taxes with it. A person could be sentenced to jail if they were not growing hemp on their land.

For Native Americans, it was a different story explains Anthony Rivera, “Many American leaders in the 1870s and 1880s thought that Indians should be encouraged or even forced to assimilate. U.S. Army leaders wanted the buffalo herds reduced, since that would force Indian tribes to stay on reservations and farm. Also, to further encourage assimilation, the U.S. government offered free farm land and help for Indian families that chose to leave their tribe and become settled, independent farmers."  

Over time, this ancient and once highly revered botanical became demonized and also re-named the derogatory term “marijuana.” Through negative propaganda campaigns, the plant was effectively removed from the U.S. pharmacopeia, removed as an agricultural crop, and ultimately the lives of U.S. citizens and tribal members by the 1940s. Further exacerbating the situation, “marijuana” was listed as a schedule 1 substance by the U.S. government in 1970.

Since then, decades of worldwide cannabis research has proven that the plant in whole and in part has substantial benefits. In the 1990s, hemp was legally separated from the definition of “marijuana,” which opened the door for hemp-based imports in the U.S. Today, more than half of the U.S. states have some form of medical cannabis laws on the books allowing accessibility. The popularity of hemp is growing from food and nutritional supplements to clothing, building materials, car parts and more than 25,000 other uses. Hemp alone is estimated to be at least a $620 million U.S. import.

Today, CannaNative believes that full restoration of cannabis cultivation and developing a cannabis-based economy is an inherent right of all 566 tribes located throughout the U.S. A recent article by the Associated Press highlights the level of complexity that tribal nations are facing today with restoring cannabis agriculture on tribal lands. CannaNative is eliminating fears of re-establishing cannabis-based tribal economies through education and enforcement of unique sovereign rights. The inter-tribal coalition between CannaNative and NICC strives to prevent disruptive and costly incidents such as crop destruction by U.S. law enforcement agencies.

In response to the AP article, Lael Echo-Hawk, General Counsel for NICC explains, “Indian Country is complicated - tribes need partners that understand the legal complexities of Indian Country. In order to move forward, we need our federal partner to clarify their position and support equal tribal opportunity in this emerging industry. NICC is leading that charge both on the Hill and at the Administration.”

Other issues are also being addressed such as the U.S.-based cannabis industry’s lack of banking alternatives. Lack of banking in a cash-and-carry industry is creating a public safety issue. CannaNative is addressing this by modeling the highly regulated and successful cash-based gaming industry by Native American tribes to provide banking solutions for the U.S. cannabis industry. Each sovereign nation is described by Anthony Rivera as “domestic foreign countries in the U.S.”

Dr. Cedric Black Eagle former Tribal Chairman of the Crow tribe, brother to President Barack Black Eagle, and Co-Founder of CannaNative stands behind his famous brother’s statement of inter-tribal collaboration and working toward future growth and success.

Dr. Black Eagle states, “There appears to be some confusion by the tribes with clarification of processes on regulation of hemp and marijuana in sovereign nations. I am confident that the alliance between CannaNative and NICC will provide the path to streamlining processes of regulating the legal use of cannabis on Indian land. The CannaNative and NICC alliance will advocate and assist sovereign nations on the necessary regulations to protect the tribes’ assets and, in this case, their asset would be cannabis crops."

CannaNative was formed to spearhead the restoration of cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and distribution of finished products for health and wellness initiatives, medical research, banking and more. The alliance of CannaNative and NICC is now in place to protect tribal interests and advocate for what sovereignty brings: full self-sustainability on Indian reservations.

For more information on CannaNative, visit the Company’s website at

About CannaNative LLC.

CannaNative™ goal is to help tribes to develop hemp and cannabis-based economies on Native American lands throughout the United States.  We believe that every tribe should have the opportunity to establish and grow a responsible, cannabis-based economy to sustain all future generations. For more information on CannaNative, visit the Company’s website at

About NICC.

NICC has been formed to help move Tribal leaders through the information hurdles of creating working cultivation and manufacturing facilities. NICC is an educational resource for information on the medical benefits of cannabis; economic development opportunities for building a self-sustaining cultivation project from seed to sale; and investing with consideration for public health and safety. For more information, visit the organization’s website at

For further information, please contact:

Public Relations contact:

Media Contact:
Andrew Hard
Chief Executive Officer
CMW Media
P. 858-264-6601

Corporate Contact:

CannaNative, LLC.

550 West "C" Street, Ste. 2040

San Diego, CA 92101


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My talk on history of the Southern Califoria Native Tribes.

‘God Knows Junipero Serra Was a Sinner’ Prayer Memorial by Local Tribes



Several San Diego tribal bands gathered September 23, 2015 at the historic Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá Mission. They returned to what is sacred land in memory of their ancestors and to pray for healing of all those killed or buried on the grounds of the mission.

The first Franciscan Mission in what was then Las Californias, was founded on July 16, 1769 by Spanish friar Junipero Serra in an area long inhabited by the Kumeyaay Indians.

Anthony Pico, former Chairman of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, addressed the crowd in remembrance of their tribal ancestors.

“Those running the mission knew this entire place was sacred ground but they started digging in this spot to make a building,” Pico said. “They began digging so they could construct the mission – but the lower they dug they started hitting human remains. By the time we found out about it, they were about eight feet deeper than a grave.”

“Those present that day looked over the holes and discovered skeletons were buried there,” Pico said. “Anthropologist Florence Peck took the bones to have them checked out. Florence told me that on the bones of the ones they took out, she saw marks on their forearms from being shackled and that they had to be under ground a long time to leave marks on their bones.”

As the day began to darken, more people arrived and singers began their chants and songs. It was a serene atmosphere as the Memorial was dedicated with lit candles surrounding a cross.

Pico remembers back in 1989 coming from the Viejas Reservation with other tribal members to the site at the Mission and singing for 18 hours and then digging for 10 hours to finally give those buried a proper burial.

“We did everything by hand with shovels, and it was brutal,” Pico said. “I felt exhausted, dirty and filthy, and when I finally made it home I just collapsed into bed.”

Angela Elliott Santos, Tribal Chairperson for the Manzanita Band of Mission Indians arrived this night with many of their band. Along with the Memorial and prayers for ancestors the tribal members were also protesting the upcoming sainthood of Father Junípero Serra who was in charge of the Mission when all of this happened.

“We are here because of the potential canonizing of a man who treated our people badly and to show everyone we still exist, Santos said. “This matters to us. The Manzanita were oppressed in the ‘80s. Even though some of us were younger we knew the history and what happened here. Our people were forced to build the missions and they were civilized people with their own religion. It’s very sad if they canonize a man who has cost so much heartache for us to get over. Today, on this sad day, we are here to pray for the ancestors and for ourselves to find a way to get through another atrocity to our people.”

The Honorable John Elliott, Councilman of the Manzanita Band of Mission Indians thanked those in attendance.

“Today we pray for the ancestors and for healing for our people,” he said. “The mission system was such devastation to all levels of our society that it’s time for us to start healing at this spot, an Indian cemetery that is sacred ground to us, and where we want to come and recognize them. They’re the ones that had to live under this oppressive system and their energy will be energized if we stand up and start healing our own people.”

As the group surrounded the cross-circled with candles, two signs under a tree expressed the message all were here to share. One read “Serra isn’t a Saint, God knows and so do we, genocide is wrong;” and the other “Native Lives Matter.”

Pope FranciscanonizedJunipero Serra September, 28, 2015.