Antonio Garra Day in Old Town San Diego.

This afternoon I attended Antonio Garra Day in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. The event, which comes on the anniversary of Garra’s death, was organized by the Pala Band of Mission Indians. I listened to several speakers, including authors and historians, talk about Garra and historical events in the mid-1800s, and I watched different Kumeyaay groups perform Bird Songs and Dances.

Antonio Garra was a leader of the Cupeño people in Southern California who sought to organize tribes of our region to resist unfair taxation. Even though Native Americans were not citizens of the United States, a tax was levied upon their animals, property and agriculture. This taxation without representation was considered by many fair-minded people to be illegal and unjust.

Garra was educated at Mission San Luis Rey and could speak English, Spanish and Latin. He was an influential leader who opposed the ill-treatment of indigenous people. According to Wikipedia: “In 1851, because of several issues of conflict, Antonio Garra, a Cupeño from Warner’s Ranch, tried to organize a coalition of various Southern California Indian tribes to drive out all of the European Americans. His Garra Revolt failed, and settlers executed Garra. The Cupeño had attacked Warner and his ranch, burning some buildings.”

Garra was blamed for the murder of four people at Colonel Warner’s Rancho on November 22, 1850, and he was sentenced to be executed. On January 12, 1852, he was brought to the El Campo Santo cemetery in Old Town and told to kneel down beside a ready grave in front of a firing squad. He last words were: “Gentlemen, I ask your pardon for all my offenses and expect yours in return.”

Antonio Garra Day arose because of a Wanted poster that has long been displayed in the First San Diego Courthouse museum. The poster does not provide the full story of the Garra Uprising and the suffering of indigenous people. Today, a plaque beneath the poster provides more historical context.

Between performances of Bird Songs, which honored Native American ancestors, elders and Garra, I listened to the words of Patricia Nelson. She is a descendant of Antonio Garra. As a youth she was incensed by the cruel treatment of her people. Today, she works to honor and proudly remember those people, their culture, their lives and humanity.

Antonio Garra Day has grown over the past 4 or 5 years, and next year it will be a much larger event, filling the plaza of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, with many Kumeyaay participants from all around our region.

A display of Kumeyaay artifacts at the event, by the Wa$xayam Pomki Museum on the Rincon Reservation.
A display of Kumeyaay artifacts at the event, by the Wa$xayam Pomki Museum on the Rincon Reservation.

Garra and his people assisted weary immigrants who had crossed the desert. He also gave aid and comfort to General Kearney and his troops during the Mexican-American war.
Garra and his people assisted weary immigrants who had crossed the desert. He also gave aid and comfort to General Kearney and his troops during the Mexican-American war.
Bird Singers sing of the world's creation and the first people.
Bird Singers tell of the world’s creation and the first people.
A crowd observes Antonio Garra Day at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
A crowd observes Antonio Garra Day at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Wanted posters in the First San Diego Courthouse museum include one concerning Antonio Garra.
Wanted posters in the First San Diego Courthouse museum include one concerning Antonio Garra.
The grave of Antonio Garra in Old Town San Diego's El Campo Santo cemetery.
The grave of Antonio Garra in Old Town San Diego’s El Campo Santo cemetery.

A horse came to Old Town for the event. Its rider represented Juan Verdugo, who participated in the Garra Uprising and was executed. He is also buried at El Campo Santo cemetery.
A horse came to Old Town for the event. Its rider (not visible) represented Juan Verdugo, who participated in the Garra Uprising and was executed. He is also buried at El Campo Santo cemetery.
Patricia Nelson, a descendant of Antonio Garra, talks about her memories, generations of her people, and their lives.
Patricia Nelson, a descendant of Antonio Garra, talks about her memories, many generations of her people, and their lives.
Bird Song and Dance honor a people who lived in our region many thousands of years before the arrival in 1769 of Spanish missionaries and soldiers.
Bird Song and Dance honor a people who lived in our region many thousands of years before the arrival in 1769 of Spanish missionaries and soldiers.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Cultural diversity in San Diego’s history.

The 250th Anniversary of San Diego is being celebrated this year.

In 1769 a Spanish expedition established El Presidio Reál de San Diego atop a hill near the San Diego River, along with the original Mission San Diego de Alcalá.

San Diego, however, didn’t become a city of any real significance until the late 19th century.

For a city that is relatively young, San Diego today enjoys remarkable cultural diversity. Much of this diversity is due to our close ties and overlapping history with Mexico. Much also comes from the variety of immigrants who have settled in and helped to build our growing city.

In the past, Cool San Diego Sights has featured many posts about cultural diversity in San Diego’s history.

Here are some links that you can explore…

A new flag is raised for San Diego’s 250th Anniversary!

Exhibit shows Kumeyaay history in the South Bay.

Festival recreates landing of explorer Cabrillo.

San Diego’s early history at the Serra Museum.

San Diego history in Old Town’s McCoy House.

History at the Los Peñasquitos adobe ranch house.

Days of the Vaqueros in Old Town San Diego!

Gravestones tell stories of early San Diego history.

Photos inside the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.

Local history excavated, displayed at Petco Park.

Historical exhibit at Women’s Museum of California.

African-Americans helped to build San Diego.

Culture and history celebrated at Festa in San Diego!

Mural in Cesar Chavez Park depicts local history.

A look inside the Portuguese Historical Center.

San Diego history: World War II and the Tuna Fleet.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Three cool murals in a North Park alley!

North Park alley mural by BANDiT.
North Park alley mural by BANDiT.

These three fantastic murals were painted recently in a North Park alley. I happened to be walking down University Avenue just east of 31st Street when I spotted them.

Very cool, huh?

North Park continues to be the home of amazing, ever-changing street art!

North Park alley mural by BANDiT.
North Park alley mural by BANDiT.
North Park alley mural by @JohnnysArtwork.
North Park alley mural by @JohnnysArtwork.
North Park alley mural by @kyraaart.
North Park alley mural by @kyraaart.
North Park alley mural by @kyraaart.
North Park alley mural by @kyraaart.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Niki de Saint Phalle’s Grande Step Totem.

One fantastic sculpture by renowned French-American sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle presently stands at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. Those who pass by the cultural center on their way up North Escondido Boulevard can’t fail to miss it.

I stopped by to have a look at the monumental sculpture, which is titled Grande Step Totem.

A plaque near its base is weathered and cracked and is difficult to read now. I’ve tried to transcribe the English portion of it accurately:

Grande Step Totem

Based in Native American spirituality, Saint Phalle’s Totem is more solemn than much of her work. With a muted color palette and subject matter, this piece encourages introspection. The Totem returned to Escondido on December 19, 2012 after spending the summer on view with several other Saint Phalle pieces on Park Avenue in New York City.

NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE

2001

Polyurethane foam resin, steel armature, ceramic tiles, stained glass, tumbled stone.

As you can see, some construction work was being done around the base of the sculpture when I visited last weekend. Here are my photos…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Two colorful new sights in Old Town!

Three happy, silly creatures greet fun-loving people in front of Dr. Freeze Amazing Desserts!
Silly creatures greet hungry, fun-loving people in front of Dr. Freeze Amazing Desserts!

During my walk around Old Town on Saturday, I stumbled upon a couple of very colorful sights. I believe both of these are relatively new. At least, I don’t recall seeing either before!

A colorful mural decorates one side of a building at the Harold J Ballard Parent Center. Created by @ronald.paints and @artreachsd.
A colorful mural decorates one side of a building at the Harold J. Ballard Parent Center. Images are of nature and Kumeyaay culture. Created by @ronald.paints and @artreachsd.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Colorful photos of Founders Day in Old Town.

Representatives of many communities come together during Old Town San Diego's Founders Day to celebrate our city's diverse history.
Representatives of many communities come together during Old Town San Diego’s Founders Day to celebrate our city’s diverse history.

Founders Day is being celebrated in Old Town this weekend. The unique Old Town San Diego Chamber of Commerce event, which is inspired by our city’s 250th anniversary, is being held along San Diego Avenue, just south of the State Park.

I walked around at noontime today and took photos!

The colorful Founders Day festival will continue tomorrow. There will be street vendors and music and dancing and a whole lot of history to experience. If you can, head to Old Town San Diego and check it out!

San Diego Avenue was full of color and activity during my walk on the Saturday of Founders Day weekend.
San Diego Avenue was full of color and activity during my walk on the Saturday of Founders Day weekend.
A banner on an Old Town lamp post remembers the year 1769, when Junípero Serra founded a Spanish mission in San Diego.
A banner on an Old Town lamp post remembers the year 1769, when Junípero Serra founded a Spanish mission in San Diego.
This musician smiled for a blogger who happened to walk by.
This musician smiled for a blogger who happened to walk by.
The San Diego Model A Ford Club had lots of vintage cars on display during the event.
The San Diego Model A Ford Club had lots of vintage cars on display during the event.
Root beer floats could be enjoyed at this outdoor Western saloon!
Root beer floats could be enjoyed at this outdoor Western saloon!
The San Diego History Center had a display detailing important moments in San Diego's 250 year history.
The San Diego History Center had a display detailing important moments in San Diego’s 250 year history.
Early people, events and developments in San Diego's history include the native Kumeyaay, the Spanish arrival, and the establishment of Mission San Diego de Alcalá in 1769.
Early people, events and developments in San Diego’s history include the native Kumeyaay, the Spanish arrival, and the establishment of Mission San Diego de Alcalá in 1769.
Frontier musicians play banjo, guitar and washboard.
Frontier musicians play banjo, guitar and washboard.
Historical reenactors from Old Town's African Latin Museum participated in Founders Day.
Historical reenactors from Old Town’s African Latin Museum participated in Founders Day.
SDSU Archaeology had a table near the Whaley House Museum.
SDSU Archaeology had a table near the Whaley House Museum.
San Diego State University Archaeology students once excavated behind the Whaley House, and found many interesting artifacts.
San Diego State University Archaeology students once excavated behind the Whaley House, and found many interesting artifacts.
Uncovered artifacts included bottles and various household items common in early San Diego.
Uncovered artifacts included bottles and various household items common in early San Diego.
Write Out Loud had their Poe and Twain puppets roaming about during the cool event!
Write Out Loud had their Poe and Twain puppets roaming about during the cool event!
Many people come together during Founders Day to celebrate our city's complex and fascinating 250 years of history.
Diverse people come together during Founders Day to celebrate our city’s complex and uniquely fascinating 250 years of history. During the opening ceremony, words of optimism were expressed for the future!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A new flag is raised for San Diego’s 250th Anniversary!

Kumeyaay bird songs are performed on stage during the San Diego 250 Civic Commemoration Ceremony.
Kumeyaay traditional Bird Songs are performed during the San Diego 250 Civic Commemoration Ceremony.

This evening a very special event was held in San Diego.

A crowd gathered near the top of Presidio Hill, in the parking lot just below the Serra Museum, to take part in the San Diego 250 Civic Commemoration Ceremony.

The historic event was staged in the same spot overlooking San Diego Bay where a Spanish mission and presidio were built in 1769. It is where San Diego began 250 years ago.

The first part of the San Diego 250 Civic Commemoration Ceremony featured cultural entertainment representing our remarkably diverse city. Several colorful dances were followed by speeches by politicians, dignitaries and diplomats, plus several leaders of the Native American Kumeyaay people–those who have lived in this region many thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. The audience experienced a Kumeyaay blessing and traditional Bird Songs. With sincere words past injustices and the suffering of the Kumeyaay were acknowledged, and optimism was expressed that our city’s future will be inclusive and bright.

For as long as I can remember, three flagpoles have stood at this place where the Spanish built their first outpost in California. Three banners have flown representing the history of San Diego: the flags of Spain, Mexico and the United States.

A fourth flagpole was recently installed. Today, at the close of the ceremony, a flag incorporating the different tribes of the Kumeyaay Nation was blessed with white sage smoke–to purify minds and hearts-and raised proudly, acknowledging and honoring San Diego’s first people.

I took some photographs of this important historical event.

Early arrivals for San Diego's big 250th Anniversary event claim a seat and await some cultural entertainment.
Early arrivals for San Diego’s big 250th Anniversary event claim a seat and await some cultural entertainment.
A variety of tents could be visited for food, drink and information about San Diego and its history.
A variety of tents could be visited for food, drink and information about San Diego and its history.
Kumeyaay tools and crafts are on display at one table.
Kumeyaay tools and crafts are on display at one table.
Map shows the different Kumeyaay villages of our region. The village of Cosoy was located near the base of Presidio Hill, where Old Town is located today.
Map shows the different Kumeyaay villages of our region. The village of Cosoy was located near the base of Presidio Hill, where Old Town is located today.
Prior to the ceremony, I walked a bit through Presidio Park. I took a photograph of VIPs arriving by Old Town Trolley at the Serra Museum.
Prior to the ceremony, I walked a bit through Presidio Park. I took a photograph of VIPs arriving by Old Town Trolley at the Serra Museum.
Performers lounge on grass behind the stage before the program begins.
Performers lounge on grass behind the stage before the program begins.
Someone takes a seat in the VIP section as Lion Dancers begin the multicultural entertainment.
Someone takes a seat in the VIP section as Lion Dancers begin the multicultural entertainment.

The ballet folklorico dancing that followed was enthusiastic, colorful and loudly applauded.
The ballet folklorico dancing that followed was enthusiastic, joyous and loudly applauded.

Dancers representing San Diego's Portuguese community take the stage.
Dancers representing San Diego’s Portuguese community take the stage.

A dance followed that represented San Diego's Vietnamese community.
A dance followed that represented San Diego’s Vietnamese community.

The VIPs take their seats as speeches are about to commence.
The VIPs take their seats as speeches are about to commence.
There are four flagpoles, but only three flags are flying.
There are four flagpoles, but only three flags are flying.
Mayor Faulconer addresses the crowd, urging unity and a positive future for all.
Mayor Faulconer addresses the crowd, urging unity and a positive future for all who live in San Diego.
A leader of the Kumeyaay Nation addresses those assembled.
A leader of the Kumeyaay Nation addresses those assembled.
Kumeyaay women sway in front of the stage as the men perform traditional bird songs.
Kumeyaay women sway in front of the stage as the men perform traditional Bird Songs.

A presentation is made to the San Diego History Center, which operates the Serra Museum and helped to arrange this special ceremony.
A presentation is made to the San Diego History Center, which operates the Junipero Serra Museum and helped to arrange this special ceremony.
Before the event concludes, everybody's attention turns to the flagpoles.
Before the event concludes, everyone’s attention is directed to the four flagpoles.
The Kumeyaay color guard stands ready.
The Kumeyaay color guard stands ready.
The flag of the Kumeyaay Nation is unfolded and blessed.
The flag of the Kumeyaay Nation is unfolded and blessed.
It is raised.
It is raised.
The Kumeyaay color guard poses proudly for a photograph.
The Kumeyaay color guard poses with pride for a photograph.
The flag of the Kumeyaay Nation now flies on historic Presidio Hill, in a place of honor.
The flag of the Kumeyaay Nation now flies on historic Presidio Hill, in a place of honor.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!