Los Angeles archdiocese provides burial space to Native Americans

Land at Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery and at Good Shepherd Cemetery offer permanent sites for the reburial of tribal ancestors

Members of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians were joined by Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishops Joseph Brennan and Edward Clark at the dedication and blessing of a new reburial site at Good Shepherd Cemetery in Lancaster November 17. (Delfin Magpantay)

On a bright Saturday morning in late November, about 25 Native Americans from the Gabrielino/Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians gathered to bless a piece of land where many of their ancestors will finally, after many years, get a proper burial. 

While Andy Morales, the son of Chief Anthony Morales, prepared the earth by leading chants, burning sage, and spreading a bit of tobacco on the green grass, two Catholic bishops and a chaplain observed and respectfully prayed along with the indigenous people.

“This day symbolizes the coming together of the Native American and the Catholic religions,” said Andy Morales, as he started leading the ceremony and chanting. “That shows strength and unity and it’s also a day of healing for our families and our ancestors.” 

The land in question, located in the Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery in Rowland Heights, will now become the permanent site for the reburial of the tribal ancestors thanks to a series of protocols signed earlier this year by the tribe and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. 

A similar ceremony had occurred a week before at the Good Shepherd Cemetery in Lancaster for the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. Both were presided by Auxiliary Bishop Edward Clark, episcopal vicar for the Our Lady of the Angels Pastoral Region.

It was an issue of justice and it was a long time coming, said Clark. 

“Both tribes appealed to the archdiocese because they had no place to rebury their ancestors that get unearthed because of construction or when federal law required museums and universities to return remains to the tribes,” said Clark. “They made an appeal to Archbishop José Gomez and he promised that he would find them a place.” 

Full story at Angelus News.

Comments

  1. Pure heretical religious syncretistic garbage. Archbishop Gomez, this is a disgrace!!!
    “This day symbolizes the coming together of the Native American and the Catholic religions”????
    Um, no… Catholicism is the one, true, revealed religion and it doesn’t come together with anything else except to change it into itself.
    And this was printed approvingly in the archdiocesan newspaper???
    Looks to me like it’s game over in L.A. Diversity-shmersity instead of Catholicity.
    Fr. Serra founded the missions to evangelize the Indians, not give in to their false religious practices.

    • If you believe that about the missions, you need to read more history. The conversions were under duress, the people from whom we stole the land were forced to do slave work and give their culture. And much more.

  2. This article is very unclear as to why the reburials are necessary. That’s buried in the last paragraph. Otherwise, sounds like the Church is atoning for something ‘nasty’ from the Spanish colonial era.

  3. If the site was “blessed” in a Native American ritual, then it wasn’t blessed. It was just play acting. Pagan gods don’t exist. This is serious Catholic news?

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