Native American History
Mission San Juan Capistrano is committed to celebrating and preserving the history of Orange County’s first people, the Acjachemen Native Americans. Our efforts to educate and celebrate the contributions of the indigenous people that contributed to the Mission’s history will continue to progress, evolve and expand over time as new projects emerge and as resources and technologies allow us to do so. Our commitment to the preservation of their culture, past and present, remains a priority. Guests can learn more about the indigenous people by walking the grounds and visiting the following to experience their history at the Mission.
Native American History Onsite Experiences
Learn more about the indigenous people by walking in their footsteps and visiting the following:
“NATIVE AMERICAN” EXHIBIT ROOM
Features information about the Acjachemen people’s origins, native foods, hunting and gathering, plant uses, music, basketry and ceremonies.
Visit this stone where Native Americans ground acorns for food. This area also explains what native dwellings looked like.
Compares indigenous people’s food sources with Spanish farming and ranching and considers the impact of ranching for the indigenous people.
PADRES’ SITTING ROOM EXHIBIT
Discusses skills the padres taught to the Native Americans and features a reproduction of the 1776 baptismal register.
LEGACY OF SAINT SERRA EXHIBIT
Features information on the legacy of Saint Serra and his role in bringing Christianity to the West.
MISSION TREASURES EXHIBIT
Shows an original Acjachemen or Juañeno basket. Pays tribute to the neophytes, or baptized Native American victims who lost their lives in the 1812 earthquake that collapsed the Great Stone Church.
This area features hands-on activities that teach about the Ajachemen people’s culture and traditions, Mission work, contributions and more.
Explains what happened to the Mission and to the Acjachemen people after the secularization period. Features a large scale model of the Mission during the founding period.
STATUE OF SAINT SERRA AND NATIVE AMERICAN BOY
(Coming of The Two Cultures) Circa 1914. Cross circa 2009.
ANNUAL “DAY OF REMEMBRANCE”
Every year on December 8, the anniversary of the Great Stone Church earthquake of 1812, the community gathers for remembrance of the 40 victims who perished.
BELL RINGING TRADITION
Mission San Juan Capistrano celebrates its history through a wide variety of bell ringing tradition. In 2013, the Mission began a new tradition of ringing the bells everyday at 9 :00 a.m. to honor Saint Junípero Serra, the founder of Mission San Juan Capistrano.
NATIVE AMERICAN BASKET WEAVERS
Volunteer basket weavers including direct descendants and members of the Native American community demonstrate basket weaving on the third Wednesday of each month.
STATUE OF SAINT KATERI
Visit the Mission Basilica located off-site.
Online Audio Tour
The online audio tour features music, history and storytelling bringing to life the “Jewel of the Missions.” Tour aligns with CA HSS (4.2.1, 4.2.3, 4.2.4, 4.2.5, 4.2.6).
Learn More about Native American History:
How to Use the Audio Wand
What is a Mission? — Founding Document
Stop 2 Additional Information
Mission Agriculture — Olive Millstone
For immediate assistance, Mission San Juan Capistrano offers the following free educational information for school projects to download:
Frequently Asked Questions about Mission San Juan Capistrano
Frequently Asked Questions about Acjachemen Life before Spanish Contact
Frequently Asked Questions about Native American Life at a Mission
Frequently Asked Questions about the Spanish Mission System
The Acjachemen Nation: San Juan’s First People
Spread of Diseases
Hide and Tallow
Wine and Olive Oil
Soldiers of Alta California
Native American History Video Collection
Bring the Mission alive at home with these videos produced by Mission San Juan Capistrano, designed to educate about the Native American history and culture at Mission San Juan Capistrano. For a more interactive virtual experience, book a Native American History and Storytelling Package as part of our Distance Learning programs for your school or class.
In Our Voice: Celebrating Native American Culture Featuring Nathan K. Banda
Run Time: 10 minutes 29 seconds
The Mission is proud to share this special video in celebration of Native American Heritage Month. In honor of the local Acjachemen people and people of all native communities, we are pleased to share this interview with Nathan K. Banda, Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation and Mission Bell Ringer. We are so grateful to Nathan for taking time to talk about his people’s history and culture as well as share about his role as an official Mission Bell Ringer.
Native American Storytelling and Basketweaving Video
Featuring Jacque Tahuka Nunez
Run Time: 5 minutes (Full video 35 minutes)
In honor of the local Acjachemen people and people of all native communities, the Mission is proud to share a special preview of our new education video series: In Our Voice: Native American Storytelling. This video series is presented by Jacque Tahuka Nunez, Native American Educator and member of the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation. To view the full Native American Storytelling video series, book the distance learning program.
In Our Voice: Mission Bell Ringing and Native American Singing Video
Featuring Adelia Sandoval and Michael Gastelum
Run Time: Run Time: 4 minutes (Full video 20 minutes)
In celebration of the history and culture of the local Acjachemen people and all native people, the Mission is proud to share a special preview of our new education video: Mission Bell Ringing and Native American Singing on our website and social media outlets. This video features members of the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation and the full version is complimentary with the booking of any Mission education program.
Native American Thank You Song, Featuring Jacque Tahuka Nunez, Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation
Run Time: 4 minutes and 54 seconds
Enjoy this special preview clip from our Distance Learning Native American History and Storytelling Package. Presented by teacher and storyteller Jacque Tahuka Nunez, Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation, this special video celebrates diversity while teaching about the local indigenous people’s traditions.
Native American Basket Weaving
Run Time: 5 minutes and 37 seconds
Mission San Juan Capistrano Native American Basket Weaving Volunteers share the rich basket weaving tradition and cultural practices of the Acjachmen people. Presented by Ellen Olivares Schneider, Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation; Adelia Sandoval, Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation; and Mariah Doyle Sandoval.
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