Restoration / Revitalization

Restoration
Text by Deborah Small

—Roget’s Thesaurus: restoration
N. restoration, returning, giving back, retrocession 787n. restitution; redress, amends reparation, reparations 941n. atonement; finding again, getting back, retrieval, recovery 786n. taking; refoundation, reestablishment, reinstallation, reinvestment, restauration, recall, replacement, reinstatement, reinstallment, rehabilitation, replanting, reforestation, reclamation, rescue, salvage, redemption, ransom, salvation 668n. deliverance; reconstitution, reerection, rebuilding, reformation, reconstruction, reorganization, readjustment, remodeling 654n. reformism

There is a sense of urgency to the Indian Rock Native Garden Project, as I imagine there must be with all cultural revitalization projects: record the language before the last native speaker dies; document the medicinal uses of plants before the knowledge disappears with the passing of a particularly gifted healer; record the stories that teach us how to live with dignity and grace, in balance rather than at war with ourselves and the environment that sustains us.

This urgency for many of us, I imagine, is compounded by the recognition that NO region is safe from development. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for example, which sits on reserves of oil, has been a continuous target the the past and current Bush administrations.

As we learn to care about the loss of habitats and the endangerment of species, we also begin to comprehend the tenuousness and fragility of all environmental protections. As we learn to care about the diminution of languages and the diminishment of cultures, we comprehend that cultural preservaton is about preserving the vitality of all cultures.

The IRNG project helps us learn to celebrate the canyon sunflower and to deplore its immanent destruction, to hold, simultaneously, a sense of wonder and a sense of outrage.

The Indian Rock Native Garden Project is about creating the possibilities for change, and thereby, the possibilities for hope. With our many mentors and consultants, we have witnessed the San Luis Rey Band’s profound affinity for the land. We have observed the specificity and sophistication of indigenous land management practices—their use of controlled burns, the pruning of plant stands, the coppicing of plant limbs to encourage straight growth—all of which reflect a deep understanding of the ecology.

The Indian Rock Native Garden Project is now a part of a growing network of indigenous elders and band members, linguists, rock art specialists, native garden landscapers, Pendleton archaeologists, all working to insure the preservation, restoration, and continuity of Luiseño and other indigenous biocultural traditions. As a part of this vital network, the Indian Rock Native Garden Project is an acknowledgement of our responsibility to ALL species with whom we share this particular part of the planet.

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