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By Collin Bréaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux
Feature photo: The historic Old Mission Cemetery is one of the sites that educators visit with Indigenous descendants during information tours in San Juan Capistrano. Photo: Collin Breaux
To give local educators a better understanding of the history of San Juan Capistrano, the Orange County Department of Education recently partnered with members of the Juaneño and Acjachemen communities to offer informative tours that include tours historic sites in the city.
The collaboration came about because the OECD wanted educators to have as much historical context as possible and was achieved after county education officials met with prominent San Juan native descendants, including Jerry Nieblas and Matt Belardes, said Marika Manos – history, social sciences and civic education. coordinator for the OECD.
“It’s really exciting for us,” Manos said.
Three tours have taken place so far this year with more expected in the fall, according to an OECD press release. Tours include visits to the Blas Aguilar Adobe Museum, the historic Old Mission Cemetery (where the first inhabitants of San Juan are buried), and the Putuidem Village Cultural Center in the northwest open space of the city. Refreshments and an opportunity to ask questions take place at the end of the tours.
Manos said she hopes educators can think about how to present historical information to students and even take their students to the sites. Acknowledging Native American history helps illuminate how people live today, she added.
“A lot of times our history books don’t always focus on the native story that gives Native Americans agency,” Manos said. “When we talk to community members with Indigenous ties, we bring their stories to life. Aboriginal history does not live in the past. He keeps on.”
To register for a future tour, contact Manos at [email protected]
Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other southern Orange County news as editor of The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at [email protected].
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