byJoe Castillo
March 25, 2015 • 106 views

Honored Recognition…. The City of San Gabriel named Ernie Salas as the Senior Citizen of the Year for the city. Salas, who is also the Chief of the Gabrieleno Band of Mission Indians Kizh Nation, has been a resident of San Gabriel his entire life of 86 years. The city will recognize him at the April 21st City Council meeting where he will be given the award of Senior Citizen of the Year. Chief Salas has long led the efforts of his Gabrieleno tribe in promoting their culture and heritage to the residents of San Gabriel and other San Gabriel Valley communities. He has maintained his own collection of native artifacts and other natural items to further educate the youth and local communities in and around San Gabriel. He has also led the tribe’s efforts toward becoming federally recognized and as performed spiritual blessings at number of local public and private sites to further continue the time honored ways of his people. Chief Ernie and his lovely wife Virginia are the proud parents of six adult children with an abundant number of grandchildren and great grandchildren. His family and all of us should all be extremely proud that Chief Ernie Salas has been recognized as the City of the San Gabriel’s Senior Citizen of the Year….. 


Hi Andy,

Thanks so much for providing the shirt for me to run in at the BostonMarathon!  It was a great experience.  I was able to store four nutrition gels in the pockets and use them, and I ended up running my best time for amarathon.I have to tell you about a couple of things that happened at the race:  A few miles after the start, a woman came running up behind me and said, "Excuse me, I have to ask you about your shirt.  Are you part of this group?"  I said "No, I'm just a field archaeologist.  They bought me the shirt, and in turn I'm wearing the message on the back that they put there."

Then she said she was with the government, working in Indian Affairs (BIA I guess).  I mentioned that you were trying to obtain tribal status, and she said "Yes, and sovereignty too".  I told her you didn't want a casino or anything like that, and she already knew about that too!  This was unbelievable, Andy, because you have to run a qualifying time just to get into Boston; also, she would have to be a runner with similar abilities to mine to be in the same spot along the course at the same time.  We drifted apart for a short time (there were a lot of people around to get in between, and after all, we were running in a competitive race).  But I managed to run up behind her and reconnect one last time.  I told her about the Plaza Church Cemetery and the way it was being dug up (fragments, powder, bucketsetc.).  Now that, she didn't know about.  I said you were trying to save it and that you had genetic proof your ancestors are buried there.  This last statement really grabbed her attention and she said something like, "Really?"  I told her she might want to check it out, but that I had to take off because I was loosing time on the pace I needed to run.  She understood,and I went ahead.  I got the impression she may be interested in looking Into it.  My apology to you that I didn't get her name. Later, a guy came up from well behind me yelling, "Chingishnish! Chingishnish!"  He said he often runs out by Long Beach State, and I said "Oh, yeah, Puvunga!" And he said "Yeah".  So I told him about the Church Cemetery. So how about that, Andy?  Pretty amazing to have those things happen all the way out there in Massachusetts! Thanks again to you and Christina and your friend who put the message on there, etc.!

Take care,


OC Facility Heritage Museum

Return of the Natives