Fall 2017 Newsletter


By Eleanor Castro, Amah Mutsun Tribal Elder and AMLT Board Member

Photo courtesy Charles Krenz.

September 14, 2017 was a great ceremony day for our people, the Amah Mutsun. The day started early, and up 3,486 feet atop Mt. Umunhum, which means “Place of the Hummingbird” in the Mutsun language. The clouds were surrounding us and it was cold at first, but as the day went on the sun slowly came out and the valley below shown though. Although the radar tower loomed above us it made no difference to our feeling of blessings and happiness.

After everything cleared, you could see for miles and miles, even to the San Francisco and Monterey bays. It is then that I realize why our people felt this was a sacred place. That the people knew they were blessed to be selected by Creator to take care of these lands and this mountain. Not only because of habitat or it being the place of the hummingbird, but because it felt like you were closer to the Creator and the ancestors. How more blessed could you be?

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We want to thank the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District and our Tribal Chairman Valentin Lopez for working together to bring this about. Midpen revitalized the land by adding trails and facilities to the area for everyone to enjoy its beauty. We thank them for placing atop Mt. Umunhum a sacred circle for all Native people to hold ceremony. We thank Val for helping them to understand our people’s needs. And we thank our tribe, the Amah Mutsun people, for being the first to bless this place by dancing and singing our sacred songs. We are truly blessed.

As I came up around to the top of the mountain and saw the beautiful sight of the circle it took my breath away. As I later learned, I was not the only one who had the same response. The ancestors were truly happy that our people were back, and they let us know it.

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The circle itself was set according to tradition and circled by stones that were cut by a professional stone cutter from back East. There were multiple entrances to the circle, one from the East and another from the North. From the top of the mountain the view was simply spectacular. Midpen listened to what our people wanted, and we are truly happy for this.

It has been over 200 years since our people held ceremony on this sacred “Place of the Hummingbird.” To the Mutsun people, hummingbird is part of the Creation story and the symbol of our tribe. Hummingbird brought fire from the center of the earth–when it was flooded–from the badger people. He saved the people with his bravery, intelligence, and speed. Many tribes from this area have similar stories of hummingbird.


We had many Tribal members and invited guests show up for our ceremony. We wanted to share our prayers for healing the land and the people. This mountain is sacred to our people and all Native people of this land. Our people are still here; Creator put us here to care for the land, Mother Earth, and to protect her.

Through no fault of our own the lands were taken from us. Everything was taken from us. First the Spanish came and enslaved us in the missions. And then Mexico and the United States did everything they could to eradicate us, but this ceremony shows all that we are still here. The people will thrive and become a great nation again.

We thank Creator for this ceremony. We danced our sacred dances and sang our sacred songs. Thanks to the dedicated Amah Mutsun dancers and the Umismak singers and the tribal people who gathered in support of our people, our land, and Creator. Thanks to our Elders, who do their best to help the people go forward and honor our ancestors and our children going into the future.


It is good.