Friday, 1 February 2013

On Torres-Martinez Tribal Land: the Rededication Ceremony of a 1907 Schoolhouse

Cake with old and new
The ceremony for the completion of an old schoolhouse, which was built in 1907 and only recently renovated was today on a warm, sunny day on Tribal Land near the northern end of the Salton Sea.

The school building is one of three buildings, which were all built around the same time and are California's oldest standing US agency buildings. So far, the Torres-Martinez have had enough funding to cover the renovation for the schoolhouse, but still lack the funding to do the same with the Agent Residence, which housed the teacher and the Indian Agent Building.


   Since 1970, the Torres-Martinez have made efforts to renovate  these buildings, as already then they were falling into states of disrepair. While it has been a good forty years since then, it does show that persistence and commitment and the old adage of 'if you don't succeed at first, try try again', do pay off.  The San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians supported a good portion of the project and were presented with a plaque in recognition of their support.

Some of the speakers today reminisced of the festivals, festivities and pow wows that have been held at the school house over the last few decades. Some of the elders spoke of using the building as a child and watching how the windstorms, the earthquakes, and simply aging allowed the building to deteriorate and there was nothing they could do. All were beyond appreciative and happy to see it in its original splendor once again. The ceremony was very emotional and joyful featuring also a group of Bird Singers and Dancers.

The Torres-Martinez have been in the Coachella Valley for thousands of years and are known as the Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians. They also have a pilot wetlands project on their land, right by the White River, a beautiful place filled with birds and wildlife.

Agent Residence

Indian Agent Building

Bird Singers and Dancers

Bird Singer

Congressman Raul Ruiz and Assemblyman Manuel Perez

A joke - MC Joseph Mirelez and Raul Ruiz laugh

Tribal Chairwoman Resvaloso at the entrance

1 comment:

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