MANUEL RESERVATION - As a teen, James Ramos hiked into the foothills
to harvest yucca so his grandmother could cook a delicious dish
from the cluster of white flowers atop the fibrous plant.
looked at the stalk he brought back and said it was dry and worthless.
Ramos had picked it too late.
first experience did not deter the young San Manuel tribe member
from harvesting yucca again, but he learned an important lesson
pluck the plant before the sun saps its moisture.
Manuel Band of Mission Indians members gathered at Tribal Unity
Park on Saturday to celebrate the yucca harvest and rekindle their
connection to the plant their ancestors used for food, clothing,
soap and medicine.
really gives you a sense of who you are and your identity,' Ramos
Pink, a member of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, was the main
attraction at the cultural event. His grandfather taught him about
the yucca's various uses, and now he shares that knowledge with
few children watched intently as Pink showed them how to make bread
from yucca's soft center and explained how to turn the plant's prickly
leaves into cordage.
Mathews, 38, said she wants her children to carry on the Serrano
people's traditions and history, and teaching them about the use
of the yucca is part of that.
kids need to know where they came from,' she said. "They need
to know there wasn't always a casino, and things weren't always
so easy to come by.'
remembered growing up on the reservation eating yucca flowers cooked
with "government cheese' and eggs. It was one of her favorite
thought everybody ate like that,' she said.
Murillo, 70, recalled the days when she and her relatives ate yucca
that had been wrapped in canvas and cooked in dirt warmed by fire.
They would suck the sweetness out of the fibers and spit out the
said she encourages her grandchildren to learn about the traditions
she grew up with.
have to learn all you can now because one day we'll be gone,' she
tells them. But she knows all of the youths will not carry on the
are too modern now,' she said.
Ramos, 15, wants to be the exception.
watched the stove in the kitchen at the park Saturday as the sweet
smell of baking yucca bread filled the room. Like her father, James
Ramos, Cindy wants to preserve her ancestors' culture and traditions,
and she hopes the younger children take notice.
the bigger kids show them that we are interested, then they will
be interested too,' she said.