Amah Mutsun Efforts to Steward Their Ancestral Lands

As a Democratic organization, the Assyrian Democrats of the Bay Area is very interested in the issue of indegenous people in the United States. We think there are parallels and similarities between issues that our Assyrian indigenous communities face in the Middle East and the native American indegenous communities. As we learn about these issues, we hope we raise awareness, reframe and shape these issues in the right direction and build strong solidarity between indegenous communities at global scale. 

Please join us in an online event on December 7th, for a presentation by Amah Mutsun Tribal Chair Mr. Valentin Lopez.

Event Description

Join Amah Mutsun Tribal Chair Valentin Lopez for a special hour-long presentation which will include Tribal history, and ongoing Tribal efforts to steward its Ancestral Lands.  The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band is composed of descendants from those who were taken to Mission San Juan Bautista and Mission Santa Cruz.  Much of the southern-portion of Santa Clara County is part of the Tribe’s Ancestral Territory.  Tribal Ancestors faced overt waves of genocide and forced land appropriation.  By the turn of the 20th century, nearly 98% of the Indigenous population of the region had been wiped out.

Honorable Valentin Lopez Amah Mutsun Chair

Juristac is the most important ceremonial site for the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band.  Juristac’s boundaries stretch from Santa Clara County, into San Benito, Santa Cruz, and Monterey Counties.  Aside from Juristac’s religious and cultural importance, the land is a critical part of the region’s ecology.  It provides unique habitats for threatened species, it is located on the banks of the Pajaro River, and it is the center of the only wildlife corridor to connect otherwise isolated animal populations in the Santa Cruz, Gavilan, and Diablo Mountain Ranges.

The media have dubbed Juristac as ‘Silicon Valley’s Version of Standing Rock’.  Juristac is threatened by ongoing oil production, ongoing construction activities, and by a proposal for a massive open-pit mine.  The draft environmental impact report for this open-pit mine is due to be released in the near future.  And the Tribe is working with many groups and residents to oppose the creation of the mine.  The Santa Clara Democratic Party, the Santa Cruz Democratic Party, CDP Region 7, and the California Democratic Party at the state level have all passed resolutions to oppose the creation of that mine.  Please consider attending this meeting, and learn what you can do to act in solidarity with the Tribe.

2019 Walk for Juristac

An official biographical sketch of Tribal Chair Lopez

Valentin Lopez has been the Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band since 2003, one of three historic tribes that are recognized as Ohlone. Valentin is Mutsun, Awaswas, Chumash and Yokuts. The Amah Mutsun includes the documented descendants of Missions San Juan Bautista and Santa Cruz. Valentin Lopez is a Native American Advisor to the University of California, as well as the Office of the President of the United States. He is also a Native American Advisor to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology. Valentin is actively involved in efforts to restore tribal indigenous knowledge and ensure our history is accurately told. Finally, Valentin is working to restore the Mutsun Language and is a traditional Mutsun singer and dancer. As Chairman, Valentin is a standing member on all Tribal committees and Boards.  Valentin has spoken at the United Nations regarding the importance of Juristac.

About Co-speaker Lou Chiaramonte

Lou Chiaramonte, Jr. is a 5th generation resident of the region.  His multi-ethnic heritage includes Cherokee ancestry.  His family owns the oldest family-run foodservice business in the greater Bay Area–Chiaramonte’s Sausage and Deli, which was founded in 1908.  Lou is an alternate voting member of the Santa Cruz County Democratic Central Committee, and was a co-organizer of the Silicon Valley Democratic Socialists of America, DSA Santa Cruz, and DSA Santa Cruz Mountains Branch.  Lou has a background in cultural resource management and has spent decades advocating for burial, cultural, and sacred sites in the region.

About South Bay Indigenous Solidarity

South Bay Indigenous Solidarity is a multi-ethnic, grassroots, non-profit group that supports Indigenous-led, grassroots efforts to promote human rights, restore Indigenous land stewardship and preserve threatened cultural, burial, and sacred sites. A current focus is supporting the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band’s effort to protect Juristac, an area of immense cultural, historical, environmental, and spiritual importance.  South Bay Indigenous Solidarity is headquartered in San Jose.

For more information please refer to

The online petition

Juristac Website

South Bay Indigenous Solidarity FacebookEmail