For a few years, now, the Anaheim High School mascot, the Colonist, has been the subject of a small group of protestors who claim the settlers of Anaheim abused the indigenous population and stole the land in 1867. Nothing could be further from the truth, but sometimes the truth is not listened to either because it is not known or, as with this time, it is inconvenient.
In this most recent episode, a small group of students, from Anaheim High, put together a petition on Change.org clamoring for a change to the century-old high school mascot, the Colonist. With no factual basis, they claim The Colonist represents racism, genocide, and oppression.
A recent article in The Voice of OC cited Anaheim High Alumnus Mazatl Tecpatl Tepehyolotzin, who claims, “It’s very degrading to us Native Americans, That image, that mascot, it’s a reminder of our trauma and what they did to us, raped our ancestors and so there needs to be corrections on this.”
Agreed, there definitely needs to be corrected:
An article by noted historian and investigative journalist J’aime Rubio states, “…The Los Angeles Vineyard Society which was established specifically for this purpose, sent George Hansen to the area to purchase a small amount of land (1,160 acres) from Juan Pacifico Ontiveros in 1857. Ontiveros owned the Spanish Land Grant “Rancho San Juan Cajón de Santa Ana” which consisted of 35,971 acres in its entirety. The Ontiveros family had been deeded that land from Mexico, by Governor Juan Alvarado in 1837. From its very beginnings, Anaheim consisted of German, European and Hispanic settlers, many intermarrying within the community.” (The Origins of Anaheim High School’s “Colonist” Name – Fact Vs. Fiction By: J’aime Rubio, From “Remember Anaheim’s History” Blog )
Further, even a brief look into Anaheim and its founding will show, the area was high desert. There is no evidence there were indigenous peoples living there. The founding fathers even had to dig a 7-mile canal to the Santa Ana River just to get water to irrigate their grapes.
Although Anaheim High was chartered in 1880, mascots were not used by high schools until the 1920s. Anaheim’s original mascot was the Mother Colonist, which was shortened to the Colonist in 1928. As explained in the forward to the AHS yearbook that year by acting Principal Joseph A. Clayes, “The spirit of the true Colonist still lived, when in 1857, a group of 50 men set out from San Francisco Bay and crossed the mountains to the Santa Ana River, bringing the nucleus of the Mother Colony. This later developed into the city we love, whose romantic name was developed from the linking of the beloved word “Home” and “Ana,” the patron saint of the river. How appropriate, then, that we, the descendants of these sturdy men, should adopt a title that means so much to every true American heart and resident of our Mother Colony.”
Please do not be swayed by a false narrative perpetuated by a small group searching for a cause. The Anaheim Colonist is a figure of reverence and respect., and once a Colonist, always a Colonist.
David Fry, 2nd generation Anaheim Native, Anaheim High School Alumnus
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