.Opinion: The Rise of the Amah Mutsun

It’s time for their story to be told


Steve Palopoli editor good times santa cruz california

The last few years are when many of us heard of the Amah Mutsun tribe for the first time. Suddenly it seemed like the tribe had a presence at local events, cultural groups like Santa Cruz Shakespeare began acknowledging that their own events were taking place on land once inhabited by the tribe, and the involvement of tribal members was being sought on forward-looking projects in Santa Cruz County.

But how exactly did this happen? How did a tribe that once had its heritage all but erased reclaim its identity to the point that it took ownership of its first tribal land this year in Santa Cruz County? And what might the tribe’s role be in the future as stewards of our county’s ecosystem? Aiyana Moya answers those questions this week, and her cover story tracing the Amah Mutsun’s journey is incredibly moving, essential reading.

We also have two stories this week about the groups in this year’s Santa Cruz GivesAdam Joseph writes about the nonprofits working to improve Santa Cruz County’s housing plight, and Johanna Miller looks at the arts groups promoting music and music education. With 18 days left to go in the campaign as of press time, we are closing in on $800,000 raised—our goal of $900,000 is in sight! Please go to santacruzgives.org and donate to make this a happier holiday throughout our community.



Re: Riggleman

secure document shredding

Thank you, Denver Riggleman, for having integrity and courage, and for your book. I could hardly believe my eyes when I turned on CNN and saw what was happening on Jan, 6, 2021. I immediately called my Congressman, Jimmy Panetta. To my surprise, he answered the phone. I said: ”Jimmy, what the hell is going on back there?” He said he sent all his staff home, and they were under siege.

As a former American government teacher of high school seniors, nothing in my 36-year career in the public schools of California could prepare me for this.

When you idolize human beings, you forget that they are human. We did that for four years. It nearly cost us our nation.

The same can be said for Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. The first college board of trustees gave our community college his name without doing any investigation or public comment. I was proud to vote to change the name. I was proud to campaign on it as an issue when I was elected in 2020. Cabrillo was the Putin of 16th century California.

Mark Twain said it best: ”There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.”

And for those who accuse me of being “woke,” I say to you: “Better to be woke than comatose.”

Steve Trujillo

Re: West Cliff Damage

The City Council has known for more than 20 years that the Lighthouse—the city’s logo—is on land being eroded from the waves and it is in danger of falling into the ocean. They’ve discussed what to do, but that’s all they’ve done is discuss it. Anyone who uses that area knows that it’s being eroded and the fence moves closer to the lighthouse every year.

I hope that the lighthouse is included in the plan this article talks about … and I hope the sidewalk falling doesn’t distract from fixing the land the lighthouse is on.



A DROP’LL DEW YA This is from a series called “Raindrops Masquerading as Ornaments,” taken in the photographer’s backyard in Scotts Valley. Photograph by Robin Lynn Lord.

Submit to ph****@go*******.sc. Include information (location, etc.) and your name. Photos may be cropped. Preferably, photos should be 4 inches by 4 inches and minimum 250dpi.



A stay at the Chaminade, a Chromebook, $100 in gas: these are just a few of the prizes you could win in the raffle to help Second Harvest Food Bank reach its hefty goal of providing 5 million meals. With every $5 you donate to the Second Harvest Food & Fund Drive, you’ll earn one ticket to win one of those and other prizes. The food drive ends Jan. 15. scccu.org.



A fire at the Elkhorn Battery Storage Facility in Moss Landing in September resulted in a 12-hour shelter in place due to concerns about dangerous fumes. With incidents such as these on the rise as we transition to cleaner energy, Senator John Laird introduced Senate Bill 38 last week, in the hopes of enacting legislation to protect the workers with better safety procedures at battery storage facilities.


“When you are in doubt, be still, and wait; when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage.”

— White Eagle, Ponca Chief


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