Summer 2019 Newsletter
AMLT COASTAL STEWARDSHIP SUMMER CAMP
Amah Mutsun Land Trust held the third year of our Coastal Stewardship Summer Camp for Amah Mutsun youth from July 8-12 and July 15-19. 40 youth, ages 5-19, and their families participated. Members of the AMLT Native Stewardship Corps led campers in a variety of activities meant to strengthen tribal identity, teach about Amah Mutsun stewardship, and connect young tribal members to their ancestral territory on the coast.
Each year, our AMLT youth camp grows - both in participant numbers and in impact. AMLT is grateful to the California State Coastal Conservancy, to Youth Outside, to the San Francisco Foundation, and to our generous individual donors for supporting this powerful program.
Please enjoy our report about this year’s camp experience, written by two Amah Mutsun youth campers.
Following Article Written by Adriana Luna
Age 19, Amah Mutsun Tribal Member, from Madera, California
When you think of a tribal youth camp you imagine other youth, perhaps long distance family, games, cultural activities and so much history. That is in fact exactly what it is. As a youth I wasn't sure exactly what to expect as I have never attended the camp before. Once I arrived I saw so many strangers, and I was told that they were my family, but as the week went on, those awkward “Hi, nice to meet you” turned into countless moments of shared heartfelt laughter, some tears, lots of hugs, and a family bond that can never be broken. Overall, this two week period was full of fun-filled, educational activities meant not only to teach the culture but to help us become familiar with how our ancestors lived and why it is important to regain and continue our heritage.
One of the most memorable experiences I had at camp was the beach day, where scholars from UC Berkeley came to teach us about coastal resources, such as seaweed, mussels and fish, which were all used by our ancestors. We also had free time at the beach, where we got to go swimming, boogie board, and play volleyball.
Another memorable experience was when our tribal elder, Nora Castro, gave a demonstration of what medicine bags represented and the importance of them. Then we all made medicine bags together. One interesting fact that I learned was that the “sinew” we used to make our medicine bags was synthetic, but it mimicked the actual animal ligaments that our ancestors used in crafting. It is interesting to find that today's modern tools resemble those of our ancestors.
After these long days of activity, the youth and elders gathered around the campfire with their lawn chairs and enjoyed an evening talking circle that allowed the youth to wind down, summarize their day and week, and ask any questions they may have had. Valentin Lopez, our tribal Chairman, also posed questions to campers during the talking circle, starting from his right side and ending on his left. These questions were interesting and allowed us to not only share our thoughts and opinions, but also to get a better understanding of one another.
To wrap up the busy week, we ended with a Sweat Ceremony hosted by a spiritual leader from the Akimel O’odham Nation. The Sweat Ceremony was to focus on oneself and pray for those around you. It is a very sacred ceremony, which many of the youth and myself valued dearly. It was very spiritual and really tied into everything that we did during camp.
This youth camp was very eye opening for me as most of us youth are in high school and everyone lives in different locations, so it was inspiring to connect with other young adults my age and hear about their lives and experiences. Now I am eager for next year's youth camp to be able to rejoice, reconnect over the long year apart, and fill each other in on how our year went.
** For more photos of the 2019 AMLT Coastal Stewardship Summer Camp follow this link **
Following Article Written by Laylah Luna-Carrisosa
Age 14, Amah Mutsun Tribal Member, from Las Vegas, Nevada
My experience at the Amah Mutsun Land Trust summer camp was very exciting. It surprised people from camp that my family and I drove all the way down from Las Vegas just to go to the summer camp. It was a long way to travel, but well worth it. I had many different experiences like going to the beach, making necklaces, and meeting new family members I had never met before. It was really an exciting opportunity. I also got to make tons of new friends. We went to the beach together, and went tide-pooling to look for different types of shells and sea creatures. We even got to taste different types of seaweeds! After exploring the ocean, we all got to have fun and play in the water. One day I even got to make a necklace with our tribe’s special types of shells. One really special activity we did was climb up Mount Umunhum, which is where our tribe’s creation story took place. It was a great experience, because we got to get outside, which I love, and usually people are stuck in their homes playing video games or on their phones so it was refreshing to be out in nature.
All in all, my experience at summer camp was fun filled. I overall enjoyed Lupe's wonderful cooking and all the great activities with the stewards—as they made everything really fun. One of the major take away lessons was learning all this new information that we never knew about our native plants, animals, and even the names of them in our native language.
I especially loved learning about our native language. I had always wanted to learn another language, so why not our native language—I've gotten pretty good at it too! I'm happy to say that this summer was the best summer I’ve had. I'm so glad I chose to go to the Amah Mutsun Land Trust summer camp. My family and I got closer over that time, and I'm happy we all got to share that experience, which we don’t get in Las Vegas.