A replica bell approved more than a year ago for downtown Gilroy faces opposition from the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, who say such markers symbolize enslavement of Native Americans during the Spanish colonization period.
Those in support of the bell, however, say it does not represent the violent practices of the Catholic missions, but rather, pays homage to the historic El Camino Real route.
The bell and a plaque was approved by the Gilroy City Council in September 2020, after an earlier 6-1 recommendation by the Arts and Culture Commission.
Nine people spoke out against the bell during the council’s Jan. 10 meeting, urging the governing body to retract its earlier approval. The council also received more than 40 emailed letters in opposition before the meeting, including from the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, ACLU of Northern California and Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley.
The Amah Mutsun say the El Camino Real bell markers, which can be found along Highway 101 and elsewhere, “celebrate a white-washed, romanticized and distorted history that has long been promoted in the state.”
In a letter to the council, Valentin Lopez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, wrote that the bells “have long served to erase the true history and experiences of California’s tribal peoples who suffered so many atrocities during the deadly times of Spanish occupation and internment in the mission system.”
“The mission bell was used by missionaries in the Spanish missions to regiment a daily schedule of mandatory prayer and compulsory labor,” he wrote.
The City of Santa Cruz, Lopez noted, agreed to remove all El Camino Real bell markers in 2020, and held a ceremony in August 2021 commemorating the final bell’s removal.
Because the item was not on the agenda, the council did not discuss the bell.
Councilmember Rebeca Armendariz, however, requested the bell be brought back at a future meeting for discussion. The motion failed, with only herself and Councilmembers Zach Hilton and Fred Tovar supporting it.
After the meeting, Lopez said it felt like the majority of the council “did not even consider our words and all of the community input that they received on this issue.”
“We are extremely disappointed with the City of Gilroy for refusing to even have a public discussion regarding our tribe’s request to reconsider the planned El Camino Real bell installation,” he said. “The city has shown great disrespect to our tribe by refusing to engage with us regarding the bell, and by not consulting with us to begin with regarding the installation of the El Camino Real bell and the interpretation of our tribal history at the Gilroy Historical Paseo project.”
Full story at Gilroy Dispatch.
Imagine a culture that is so fragile and full of resentment that they are hurt by a bell.
Imagine people so fragile and full of resentment that they can’t stand the sight of a rainbow flag.
I like Rainbow flags. They show the sign of the Covenant of God with His people after the Great Flood. Or are you talking about something else which was appropriated from Judaism to some other group?
The Covenant with Noah was with all mankind.
that’s not what they show
Perfectly said Father… its pathetic
At one time the bells were beside the streets and roads that made up the Camino Real, about every three miles or so as I remember since the Missions are a day’s walk apart. I wonder, just asking, if Native Americans feel the same way about those bells as Jews feel about the Nazi flag. Is that being overly sensitive?
There was no attempted genocide of the indigenous by Spanish leaders, and there was intermarriage of single people. Some indigenous like the bells and some do not. Read the website that Insult to Injury posted, and you will see that before the Spanish came, the Amah Matsun tribe fought quite often with other indigenous tribes over land. This is different from the Holocaust as Hitler did not want Aryans intermarrying with those of Jewish blood at all. He returned to European paganism and the occult with Seigfried and pagan gods as heroes.
i guess this decision
really rung their bell
It seems that everyone in these two Continents called “The Americas” is an immigrant:
Weird url. Not the title of the article.
So the next time a member of the local tribe gets sick, they will require and insist upon the services of the tribal witch doctor, and not visit a hospital, which is only another symbol of oppressive Western enslavement of Indians.
“Weird url. Not the title of the article.”
Yes, you’d have to read at least part of it to see the connection.
What is colonization? What is a colony?
Please consider removing the mission bell out of respect for the Amah Mutsum Tribe. For their health and well-being they don’t need symbols to remind them of how much they were mistreated during the mission period of Caifornia history.
They should stop driving cars, using computers, cell phones, TV, eating fast food, using modern medicine, shopping too because all those things are reminders of the “white man’s culture” that superseded theirs. Just go back and live in dirt huts and grow their own food. Hypocrites.
Give them their land back first.