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Acjachemen Nation leaders to speak at first event

By Danny Ritz

On June 21, the San Onofre Parks Foundation will kick off its fifth annual Summer Lecture Series with the first of three scheduled lectures.

“The Acjachemen: First People of the San Onofre Coast” is an opportunity to connect with the historically rich and contemporarily relevant cultural values of the Acjachemen Native Americans, who have lived and continue to live in the South Orange County region for millennia.

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Rebecca Robles, an Acjachemen National leader and tribe member, will be one of the featured speakers at the first San Onofre Parks Foundation Summer Lecture Series on Wednesday, June 21, at the San Clemente State Beach campground’s Historic Cottage. Photo: San Clemente Times file photo

Leading this lecture will be two esteemed community members. Rebecca Robles, an Acjachemen tribal member and a direct descendant of the Panhe civilization within the San Mateo Valley, is an active member of the California Cultural Resource Preservation Alliance, a co-director of the Coalition to Protect Panhe and host of the Ancestors Walk.

Alongside Robles will be Patricia Martz, Ph.D., a distinguished professor emeriti of anthropology and archaeology at California State Los Angeles and co-founder of the California Cultural Resource Preservation Alliance.
Together, Robles and Martz will discuss a combination of both traditional and academic perspectives. Working together for the better part of 25 years, this duo has successfully pioneered the establishment of several cultural heritage sites as well as worked diligently to save what is estimated to be the last remaining 10 percent of California Native American heritage sites remaining in Orange County.

“(The Acjachemen) recognized they were a part of their environment, not apart from it”, Martz said concerning some of the key messages of the upcoming lecture. “We are looking to honor their culture by sharing and promoting the inclusion of their way of life in today’s conversations.”
The Acjachemen narrative, engrained in our local history for almost 10,000 years, can offer a variety of insightful parallels towards modern social and environmental dilemmas. Both women independently commented on the uniqueness of this social and educational event.
“We want to share our history, our knowledge, our culture,” Robles said. “With a lot of focus centered on development, people think that there is no history. There is history, and we aren’t extinct. We are still very much here.”

San Onofre Parks Foundation Board Member and San Clemente resident Wendy Yoder is responsible for coordination of the Summer Lecture Series in addition to overseeing the Historic Cottage where the lecture will be held.
“The summer lecture series is a fantastic community outreach vessel,” Yoder said. “We want to encourage and enable people to become aware of and consider all the amazing pieces of our community. There are so many incredible places and so much history that I just don’t think people know enough about. We’re really excited to present such a well-rounded lecture series this year.”

“The Acjachemen: First People of the San Onofre Coast” will take place at the Historic Cottage within the San Clemente State Beach Campground. The evening begins with a reception and gallery exhibit viewing with beverages available courtesy of official Summer Lecture Series sponsors BK Cellars and Artifex Brewing Company from 6:30-8 p.m., with the lecture to follow. The Summer Lecture Series is an all-ages event, and tickets are available for pre-sale at for $15 and $20 at the door, if seats are still available.

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