"Our families hold the proposed land sacred because it is where our own grandfathers and great grandfathers survived. Our existing families are determined to uphold, respect, and honor the remaining lands where their bones and relics lie to rest." -- Andrew Salas Teutimez, Gabrieleno Mission Indians Chairman
But a story that may be less familiar but must be told is the threat the project poses to lands held sacred by the original inhabitants of Southern California, the Gabrieleno Indians.
The Gabrieleno Band of Mission Indians, also known as the Kizh, have long opposed construction of the museum in the wildlife sanctuary because it would be built on the site of a former Gabrieleno village and would likely disturb cultural artifacts and human remains.
As chairman of the Gabrielenos, Andy Salas Tautimez, wrote in a letter reiterating the group's concerns to Discovery Center project head Mark Stanley, the Gabrielenos "hold the proposed land sacred because it is where our own grandfathers and great grandfathers survived. Those relatives of the past experienced far worse circumstances than we do today, so our existing families are determined to uphold, respect, and honor the remaining lands where their bones and relics lie to rest."
Like the Friends, the Gabrielenos are not opposed to a San Gabriel River Discovery Center per se -- they are opposed to a museum that destroys the very values it's supposed to promote. As Andy continues in his letter, the Gabrielenos are opposed to the construction on the selected location but also "welcome any opportunity to share our culture with the public and a Discovery Center with a Gabrieleno Cultural Center attached would be an ideal contribution to the public."
Andy closes by recommending the Duck Farm as an alternative location.
The Duck Farm project, only a stone's throw from the wildlife sanctuary, is another water education project and park being promoted by the same officials behind the Discovery Center. Really the only elements missing from the Duck Farm are the controversy, the destruction, and the disrespect for Native American heritage.
We at the Friends hope officials come to their senses before they create another expensive outrage like the Plaza de Cultura y Artes -- with native remains desecrated and millions of dollars wasted.
If officials insist on developing a San Gabriel River Discovery Center, the Duck Farm would be the perfect location.