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Related Categories: Santa Cruz Indymedia | Racial Justice
View events for the week of 11/18/2020
Discussion of Removing Mission Bells from the City of Santa Cruz
Date Wednesday November 18
Time 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Event Type Meeting
Organizer/AuthorHistoric Preservation Commission
Location Details
Online, join meeting here:
https://ecm.cityofsantacruz.com/OnBaseAgendaOnline/Meetings/ViewMeeting?id=1591&doctype=1
At its November 18 meeting, the Historic Preservation Commission of the City of Santa Cruz will discuss the proposed removal of the Mission bell at Mission Plaza Park, in the Mission Hill Area Historic District, and all other Mission bells from the City of Santa Cruz. The meeting begins at 7PM.


BACKGROUND

At the beginning of the twentieth century, civic boosters, developers, and automobile promoters worked together to increase tourism and settlement in California by encouraging a nostalgic and positive remembering of California’s Spanish colonial past. The promoters picked a mission bell with a shepherd’s staff to mark and memorialize the route of a California state highway that followed the mythical trek of El Camino Real (“Royal Road”), that connected the twenty-one California missions and four presidios (military forts), and several pueblos from Mission San Diego de Alcala in the south to Mission San Francisco de Solano to the north, turning the missions into money-making tourist destinations.

In contrast, Amah Mutsun Tribal Band Chairman Valentin Lopez and other California Indigenous peoples view the mission bells as a colonial settler and racist symbol that glorifies the killing, dehumanization, forced labor and imprisonment of their ancestors. The bell was a potent symbol of the domination of the Catholic Church and the Spanish state over all aspects of the lives of the indigenous people who were forced to live “under the bell.”

On June 21, 2019 representatives of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the University of California Santa Cruz (“UCSC”) administration assembled on campus to remove an existing bell. However, there are two other bells located in the City of Santa Cruz. A bell marker on Mission St at Mission Plaza Park in the Mission Hill Area Historic District was dedicated on March 8, 1999. Another mission bell marker at Soquel and Dakota streets was installed in 2006.

In September of 2019, Chairman Lopez of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band reached out to the City to express that the mission bell markers represent an omnipresent reminder of the destruction and domination of California Indigenous people and to ask that the two mission bells on City of Santa Cruz property be removed.

In late 2019, then Vice Mayor Cummings began discussions with Chairman Lopez regarding the removal of the Mission Bells. In early 2020, Mayor Cummings along with council members Brown and Mathews had follow up discussions with Chairman Lopez regarding the removal of the Mission Bells, but due to COVID-19, these conversations were put on hold. During one of the protests in the summer of 2020, protesters vandalized portions of the Historic Mission Plaza and the Mission Bell was removed from Mission Plaza. This act prompted conversations between many of the stakeholders in the Mission Historic District on whether to replace the bell or whether the bell should be removed and whether there was an opportunity to assess the way the story of the Mission was being told to ensure that it reflected the perspective of indigenous people.

From late July - October of 2020, Mayor Cummings and Director Tony Elliot hosted community meetings with representatives from Friends of the Santa Cruz State Parks, California State Parks, Museum of Natural History, Chairman Lopez from the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, and other indigenous leaders to discuss if and how to move forward with removing the mission bells and how to reimagine Mission Plaza Park in the Mission Hill Area Historic District to better illustrate the history and experiences of the local indigenous people. Items discussed at these meetings included ideas for the replacement of the mission bells, concepts for Mission Plaza Park in the Mission Hill Area Historic District, and recommendations from the attendees. Consensus was reached that the bells should be removed throughout the City and that the narrative of Mission Plaza Park in the Mission Hill Area Historic District should be revised.

At the October 13, 2020 Santa Cruz City Council meeting, the City Council unanimously approved to adopt a resolution of the following:

1.) That the Santa Cruz City Council endorses the community’s effort to update the narrative of Mission Plaza Park in the Mission Hill Area Historic District so that a more accurate depiction of the history of the indigenous people of the area is included, and;

2.) That the Santa Cruz City Council directs the Historic Preservation Commission to place an item on the next possible agenda to discuss the removal of all mission bells from the City of Santa Cruz and bring back a recommendation on whether or not to remove the bell for the City Council to consider.
sm_santa-cruz-mission-bell.jpg

Added to the calendar on Wednesday Nov 18th, 2020 7:56 AM
§Meeting Summary Sheet
by Historic Preservation Commission
Wednesday Nov 18th, 2020 7:56 AM
summary_sheet_for_-_discussion_of_mission_bells__9810_.pdf_600_.jpg
§
by Historic Preservation Commission
Wednesday Nov 18th, 2020 7:56 AM
attachment_2_healing_and_decolonization_lopez.pdf.pdf_600_.jpg
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