August 30, 2010


Teeter Marie Olivares Romero
Teeter Marie Olivares Romero
Mission San Juan Capistrano

Native American traditions are alive and well at Mission San Juan Capistrano thanks to a small group of Native Americans who have maintained — and some might say “perfected” — the art of basket weaving.

Teeter Marie Olivares Romero, Ellen Sue Olivares and Kim Olivares Leone lead the teaching of the art of
basket weaving every first and third Wednesday at the Mission. It has become an integral part of the Mission’s efforts to preserve the history and traditions of the area.

Teeter has been basket weaving for 35 years, an idea she came up with during San Juan’s celebration of
the Mission’s 200-year anniversary in 1976.

“When we reached out in the 70’s, I was a docent,” Teeter said. “I come from five generations of docents.
We started looking for something to recognize the history. The 200-year anniversary triggered it in us. The whole city, we celebrated for one whole year. I started basket weaving and I liked it, I kept it up because I
got so interested in the culture.”

Teeter soon learned that basket weaving involved an intricate process. She learned about the materials
that were needed, and it took more than a trip to the store to gather them.

“You have to find a place to gather, so we’d go to the river for materials but it was all concrete in the 70’s,” Teeter said. “We have to go into the wild for materials, like juncus and yucca. Once you have the materials you have to dry ’em, then size ’em, then cut ’em. It takes a long time from beginning to end.”

Teeter said she donates some of the baskets she makes, and saves many to give to a museum someday. Ellen Sue says her intent when making the baskets “is to capture the culture of our elders and teach other generations.” Kim says her 7-year-old granddaughter “is learning all of our traditions and it is rewarding to know I’m showing two generations.”

It is indeed a family tradition that Teeter says was meant to be.

“I’ve lived all my life two blocks away from the Mission,” she said. “Sometimes you’re meant to be in one spot. I knew if I married someone from here, I’d never leave.”

Teeter met and married the late Bill Romero, whose father worked at the Mission and knew how to make

“The Mission, for our kids, for our family, has always been our playground.”

April 29 , 2010



The Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation, young and old, gathered on Saturday, April 17 for the purpose of combining their voices and passing an authoritative and continued Resolution of Support for Mission San Juan Capistrano and its current administration. The Resolution was passed on behalf of the more than 1,900 Acjachemen Nation Native Americans and later presented on Tuesday, April 27 at a rally of support at the Mission.

“We are proud of our relationship with the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians and their Tribal Council.” said Mechelle Lawrence-Adams, Executive Director of Mission San Juan Capistrano. “We are also grateful for the elders who support, care for, and love the Old Mission.”

According to a press release by the Tribe, “The Tribe chose to support and honor the Mission and its leadership, Reverend Monsignor Arthur A. Holquin, Rector/Pastor Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano and Executive Director Mechelle Lawrence-Adams with a combined and continued Resolution of Support confirmed by the Juaneño Elders and historic families of San Juan Capistrano.”

“The few individuals who are either not enrolled with the Tribe or who are not Indian do not represent the historic Juaneño families or the Tribe.” stated Juaneño Tribal Chairman Anthony Rivera, Jr. “Nor are their personal negative opinions against the Tribe or the Mission sanctioned by the combined voice of Tribal authorities, Tribal Elders, or the over 1,900 enrolled Juaneño Indians.”

The rally of support began around 8:15 a.m. outside the Mission’s front gates where Tribal members and Mission supporters held signs with statements of support. Soon after, members went to the Great Stone Church where they sang traditional songs, offered prayers and carried sage, and presented the resolution to Lawrence-Adams.

Lawrence-Adams: “We will continue to work hard to make the Mission a place of living history, telling the story of their people to all people who come to the Mission to experience this historic landmark. We will work to preserve important traditions vital to the Tribe. We are committed to making the Mission a place for all who care and want to be involved in protecting its religious and historic significance.”

The Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation, has a 230-year relationship with the Mission, and honors the Tribe’s deep-rooted history and association with the founding of the Mission.

Lawrence-Adams: “To me, their history is essential to the Mission and it will continue to be a source of pride.”

In 2005 and today, the Mission officially endorsed the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation, and formally acknowledges Anthony Rivera, Jr. as the duly elected Chairman; recognizing that the Tribe’s aboriginal territories are located throughout Orange County, from the Pacific Ocean to the West, to parts of Los Angeles County to the North, to parts of Riverside County to the East, and to parts of Camp Pendleton to the South.