Mixtec elder Don Erasto Camacena, a local herbalist and healer, joined Mel Vernon, Chair of the San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Indians, to give a blessing to the new CSUSM ethnobotanical garden. Students from Bonnie Bade’s anthopology class, Joely Proudfit’s Sociology class, and my Advanced Digital Arts class attended and helped to plant and photograph California native plants in the garden.
Bonnie has worked tirelessly with many folks to make sure this garden is happening. Joely is lending her unconditional support, and now her students are deeply involved with the planting as well. And my students are helping to document the entire process and the people with their hopeful images of a restored and revitalized ecosystem.
Before planting and photographing, all of us are cleansed with the aromatic smoke of Salvia apiana, the white sage plant that grows throughout the San Diego County back country. The ceremony brings us together, helping to focus all of us on a greater good—healing ourselves, CSUSM, and our particular part of the planet.
Luiseño storyteller Cathleen Chilcote Wallace, member of the San Luis Rey Band, has been enormously helpful to our students over the last several years, and attended the activities today to lend her support.