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Posted on: November 12, 2020

Pechanga Pu’éska Mountain Day Observed in Temecula on November 15th Each Year

Mountain Day

Since 2012, the City of Temecula has proudly observed “Pechanga Pu’éska Mountain Day” each year on November 15th.  Pechanga Pu’éska Mountain Day was proclaimed a local holiday in the City of Temecula to remind the community of the native culture of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. “We thank the city for remembering this day and honoring our people, our heritage, and our shared community,” said Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro. “Our Tribe was deeply moved and inspired by the passion and resolve of the community to preserve Pu’éska Mountain for future generations.   That determination deepened the bonds between our two governments and strengthened the fabric of our shared community.”   

Each year the City and Tribe have observed the day with a gathering or cultural activities in Town Square at City Hall. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 health restrictions, an event is not possible in 2020. However, the impetus for Pechanga Pu’éska Mountain Day was created into a Documentary Film by Brad Munoa, a member of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians and a writer, director, producer for the Pechanga Creative Studios.  The monumental people’s movement and the momentous ending that protected Pu’éska Mountain, and our City, is now a powerful Documentary entitled “The Mountain That Weeps,” and is currently featured online at the American Indian Film Festival through November 14th where Temecula residents and businesses can view this local and historic community story. To purchase tickets and support the Documentary at the Film Festival, the link is provided here: https://aiff45.eventive.org/films/5f7038541117af006317b813. Residents can also view the film after November 14 at www.mountainthatweeps.com.

“The film is perfectly produced and reflects a time in our City’s history that could have changed Temecula forever. The City of Temecula is grateful for this accurate and historic accounting of this challenging time.   Pechanga Pu’éska Mountain Day formally sets aside one day to show our gratitude to the Pechanga Tribe for saving our community from the impacts of a massive open pit mine.  Liberty Quarry would have irreversibly desecrated the mountainous area southwest of Old Town, the Luiseño Garden of Eden,” states Temecula Mayor Pro-Tem Maryann Edwards referring to Pu'éska Mountain which is the place of the Sacred Creation Area for all Luiseño Indian People.  The former proposal, Liberty Quarry, was planned adjacent to the City boundary and would have been among the largest aggregate mining quarries in the United States today with up to 1,600 gravel trucks trips every day, boulder blasts, lights, noise and dust in the trajectory of the prevailing winds overlooking the City of Temecula.  Despite being rejected by the County Planning Commission, the mine was ultimately fast-tracked for approval by the County of Riverside Board of Supervisors after many years of opposition by tens of thousands of residents and businesses, the Pechanga Tribe, the City of Temecula, Save our Southwest Hills, and San Diego State University.

Temecula Council Member Mike Naggar, who is also the City’s appointed liaison to the Pechanga Tribe suggests every resident and business in Temecula should watch the Documentary Film produced by Pechanga Creative Studios, “The Mountain that Weeps,” to understand how and why Pechanga ultimately negotiated an agreement with a multi-billion dollar nationwide mining corporation in order to protect their sacred creation area in perpetuity, which in turn protected Temecula residents and businesses from the significant impacts of a mine this size.  There is no doubt this mine would have degraded our City, and negatively affected our local economy and real estate values.”  Naggar added, “Pechanga rightfully owns their native land, again, and our City and region is forever grateful to the Tribe.”

Temecula Council Member Matt Rahn was the lead representative opposing the mine on behalf of San Diego State University at the time, and managed SDSU’s Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve which shared a boundary with the proposed Liberty Quarry project. “I once said that the location of this mine was like 'putting a rock concert next to a monastery.’ As proposed, this was going to be one of the largest mining operations of its kind, causing permanent damage to sensitive biological, cultural, and hydrological resources. This area represents the last of so many things for southern California - the last inland to coastal wildlife linkage, the last fully-protected free-flowing river, home to many endemic and sensitive species, and a significant cultural legacy for Pechanga that could never be replaced. After nearly eight years of a very intense and often contentious battle, on November 15, 2012 Pechanga announced the purchase of this mountain and, unquestionably, that remains among the best days historically for the City of Temecula.” 

“Riverside County is currently represented by an entirely different Board of Supervisors elected after 2012, and the Temecula City Council is evolving too with new elected officials, but this day remains and will continue to give us pause now and into the future,” states Council Member Zak Schwank.  “Temecula is proud to have proclaimed a local holiday dedicated to better understanding and celebrating the culture and heritage of Native Americans, and I am honored to be part of this and share my respect for the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians,” Council Member Schwank added.

The annual holiday is an opportunity to reflect on the profound ways in which the Pechanga Tribe, Temecula’s first citizens, has shaped our community’s character and heritage.  Temecula residents and businesses are urged to watch “The Mountain That Weeps” at the Native American Indian Film Festival. Tickets are available: https://watch.eventive.org/aiff45/play/5f78d34b5433f300379a6f8c/5f7038541117af006317b813.

View the Trailer here: http://www.mountainthatweeps.com/..

Read the City of Temecula's Proclamation HERE


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