Acjachemen Memorials






In Memorial


We are very saddened to report that Acjachemen Victoria Yorba Ruiz has passed and we celebrate her life here in her Tribal Family


Born April 21,1966




Soared September 10,2016


Survived by her  father - Victor ,7 children, Vanessa, Vincent, Paul, Patrick, Issac, Breanna, Robert , 5 grandchildren - Daniel, aurora, Arlene, Carmen & Joey , sisters Karen Yvonne and Eilene, brothers Edward and Nathan, numerous aunts uncles , nieces and nephews and cousins




Our condolences to the entire Ruiz Family








Acjachemen Son, Harvard Graduate





 John Joseph Romero, Jr. 


September 3rd, 1954 - August 19th, 2016


John Joseph Romero, Jr. left our world on August 19th, 2016 in Richland, Washington at the age of 61.


John is survived by his mother Jeanette McGregor of Dana Point, California, beloved wife Gloria Romero of Richland, Washington, son Anthony of Reno, Nevada, daughter Marie of Richland, Washington, sisters Eilleen Wilson of Anaheim, California, Kelly Webber of Murrieta, California and a large extended family.  He is preceded in death by his father, John Joseph Romero, Sr. of San Juan Capistrano, and his brother, Robert Banda of Dana Point, California. 

 John was an exceptional human being.  He was born to John and Jeanette Romero on September 3, 1954 at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California.  Being the first grandchild on his mother’s and father’s side, he was cherished from birth. For the first 12 years of his life, he lived with his mother and maternal great-grandparents.  It was John’s great-grandmother, “Nana” that got him up for school and fed him every day while his mother worked full-time.  John, Sr. was away serving in the Korean War and then died of cancer 1958.  The Romero clan, as John called them, included his Grandmother Beta, Grandfather Sam and 9 uncles, all stepped in to help raise him.  John’s Uncle Lefty would sit with him every day and watch cartoons, including playing “Red Light-Green Light” on the Cartoon Express show with Engineer Bill.  At the age of 5, his Uncle Snake took him to Los Angeles to be on the show and meet his childhood favorite, Engineer Bill in person. 

 Although he suffered from severe asthma as a child, John excelled in school and athletics. He attended San Clemente High School and at the age 15, John won the gold medal in the 1968 AAU Junior Olympics National Championship for weightlifting, in his age bracket.  The US Olympic wrestling team sought out John, but he wanted to return home.  Throughout his high school career, he earned 9 varsity letters, was CIF Champion for wrestling, and was a fierce tackle on the football team.  John was proud to be a Triton and in 1972, he was named “Triton of the Year”.  He attributed his athletic success to his uncles and three special coaches:  Head Coach Tom Eads, Jack Bohan, and David Neidhardt, who John believed, went out of their way to help him grow as a person and an athlete.  It was his Uncle Tony and Uncle Joe who taught him perseverance.  During one wrestling tournament, John dislocated his shoulder early on and took a quick injury break off to the side where he was met by his two uncles who had just one comment:  “You can’t win if you don’t wrestle.”  John turned around re-entered the match and continued on in the tournament to take 2nd place overall.  He went on to graduate from SCHS and was accepted to Harvard University on a full academic scholarship.  Not only was he San Clemente High School's first student to attend Harvard, he was San Juan Capistrano’s first, and the first from the Acjachemen Nation.  John was incredibly honored and proud to hold those titles. He graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Economics in 1976.  He left Harvard with more than a degree, he left with life-long friends: Dr. Philippe Weintraub, Dr. Robert Wagman, Dr. James Feldman, Dr. James Reining.  These four friends, his band of brothers, helped him fight his foe, cancer, until he was ready to not give up, but join his extended family with the Lord. 

 After graduating Harvard, John returned to Capistrano, helped his sister, Eilleen raise her son, Robbie and accepted a job with Bechtel, one of the most respected engineering, construction, and project management companies in the world.  While at Bechtel, he met and married his wife, Gloria Morada.

 Side by side, the two traveled the states and abroad for Bechtel; starting in California, then Arkansas, followed by Texas, Argentina-Brazil, Nevada, and finally settling in Washington.  It was in Arkansas, that John and Gloria started their family with the arrival of son, Anthony Joseph in 1989, followed by daughter, Marie Teresa in 1990.  John adored his children and was extremely proud of their accomplishments. Anthony, a graduate from University of Nevada, Reno and Marie, a graduate from Wellesley College, carry on John's legacy of higher education, as they both continue to further their education.   Graduating from Harvard, raising a family and working for Bechtel for 39 ½ years, were John’s biggest accomplishments.  He was most proud of his family, but just as important to him were his friends that he made starting in elementary, middle, and high school.  He was especially thankful for his best man, Bob Ferrell and his dear friends in Houston, particularly his best friends Vicky Norvick and Sam Nuzzo. 

 If you ever met John, you certainly remembered him, but if you knew him, you loved him.  John had so many unique qualities that set him apart from most people; his incredible sense of humor for one and his unparalleled work ethic for another. But what was most exceptional about him was his ability to care about others.  If you were family or a friend, you were on “the list.”  Before Facebook, there was John’s list.  The list of names he would call regularly, no matter where he was living, to check in, say hi, and let you know he cared about you.  The unbelievable thing about “the list” was the number of names on it.  John worked countless hours a week, week in and week out, and yet, if you were on the list, your phone would ring.  Just keeping up with his family would have been a chore for any regular person, but John not only kept in touch with 60+ family members, he had numerous friends that he kept in close contact with over his entire lifetime...and he always had time when we would call him.  Over the years, he had his ups and downs with his mother, but he never stopped loving her and he wanted her to know that right up until his last breath.  No doubt, the Lord made him a big man to hold his big heart.  He was the gentle giant that his family and friends counted on to always be there, if not in person, then on the other end of the phone.  We love you, we miss you, rest now.

 A Rosary is scheduled for Wednesday, September 7th at 7pm at Mission San Juan Capistrano, Serra Chapel with a native reception to follow at Acjachemen Tribal Hall, 31411-A La Matanza, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675.  The funeral is planned for Thursday, September 8th, 2016 at 10am at Mission Basilica, San Juan Capistrano, California, with gravesite services immediately following at Old Mission Cemetery and reception to follow at the El Adobe Restaurant.   All are welcome to attend and celebrate John’s life. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to John’s tribe: Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation at 31411-A La Matanza Street, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675. Condolences can be sent to The family would like to thank the countless number of medical staff that helped John fight his foe and his brother-in law, Bob for being there for him.



Chris Sandoval


To the Acjachemen Nation

It is with an open heart that I put these words down, hopefully to cross the divide that may separate us but is also the connection that we share.

We have seen one another from a distance and perhaps have shared a hand shake or a meal. You have been my tribe you have been my people and this has held me up in times of confusion and loneliness.

I was born of this people and have never known another. I have always carried the Acjachemen name proudly.  I look now not into darkness but into light where it is now I seek the others that have passed before me.

I ask you to look to one another not as strangers or even just family but as one who is nothing without the other.

Without tribe and the work to make that successful we are like so many refugees, homeless.

The land and the people are inseparable do not seek your differences but extol your gift of relationship as much and as often you can.


Christopher Francisco Sandoval  11.7.2015




 … Quiet the mind and the soul will speak  ...
… For they walk the path on Earth in faith and love …  
… For they take their journey to surrender all …
… We become their voices, we take on their journey and their wonder …
… For every word we speak is their Earth’s song we breathe …  
… Here hope is found, here on holy ground, we bow in thanks …   
… For Grace like rain falls down on us …
… For all hurt and stain is washed away …
… For rivers of grace to flow from the open heart … limitless, unstoppable...  


                                 … Quiet the mind and the soul will speak...







Spirtual and Cultural Leader has left this world and sets a place for us all with those who have passed before.

Her wisdom and leadership in cultural ceremony will be missed but we were all touched by her, even if we never felt it.


Summer 2015




It is with heavy hearts that the Acjachemen Nation recognizes

 the passing of Tribal Elder: 






Age 91

Long-time resident of Lake Elsinore born August 1, 1924 in Alberhill, CA, passed into the Lords arms October 5, 2015 in Wildomar, CA.

Preceded in death by parents Manuel Mireles Ruiz and Angelita Bracamonte Ruiz; brothers Andy and Ricky; sisters Mary Moya, Margaret Dominguez, and Beatrice Luna;

spouses Cora Arrellanes Ruiz and Maria Adelina Ruiz, children Rudy and Eleanor Martinez.


Manuel, respected tribal elder of the Acjachemen Nation, Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, descendent of Fernando and Carlota,

loved and trusted in the Lord, and taught his children by example to do the same. 

Survived by 9 daughters – Nellie Felix, Lydia Gulley, Casilda Uhlry, Cecilia Martinez, Dinah Luevano, Odilia Velazquez, Angelica Ruiz, Darlene Villa, Isabel Veloz; son Anthony Ruiz;

37 grandchildren, 72 great-, 8 great-great grandchildren; sister Linda Carrisoza, brothers Johnny and Larry, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.


Celebration of Life

Saturday Oct. 17th at 10 AM

Calvary Chapel, 115 N. Riley

Lake Elsinore. CA







Renee Cammie Atencio


Renee Cammie Atencio, 35, Mission Viejo, joined our creator on February 2, 2014. She was born to Henrietta Atencio and the late Ralph Atencio on December 2, 1978 in Mission Viejo. The saying it takes a village to raise a family was certainly written for Renee as she was raised by Greg and Deby Welty along with her parents and her brothers and sisters. She graduated from Aliso Niguel High School class of 1996. 

Renee was a member of the Juaneno Tribe of Mission Indians, a MOPS group at church, a member of Saddleback Church and an avid volunteer room mother in her daughter Katie’s first grade class.

Renee is survived by her two children, Katalina Ortiz, 6 and Steven Ortiz, 2. She is also survived by her mother Henrietta Atencio, Brothers, Rudy, David, Thomas and Brandon; and her sisters Deby and Amanda.

She will live on though her children and we will all be that village to help raise them. 





DeeDee Martinez

DeeDee Martinez born October 22nd 1965 passed, December 24th 2013.

She was born and raised in Capistrano Beach, California.   DeeDee was a family oriented person who loved her nieces and nephews.

She had a good heart and would do anything she could to help anyone. DeeDee enjoyed riding her bike through San Juan Capistrano. She was a very friendly person who was easy to talk to, and a very selfless person.

DeeDee survived by Benji, Ben, Ben Jr, Cindy, Kendra, Jessica, Mikayla, Eleanor, Shae , Parker, and Dakota.





Professor Micael Merrifield

The Man With A Juaneño Heart

 In 1995, Mickey Romero introduced the Tribal Council to an Anthropology professor from Saddleback College, his name: Micael Merrifield.   Mike, as he called was by everyone that knew him, had been friends with Mickey for over a decade before the introduction.  Early on, Mike had asked him, “Are the Juaneños going to seek federal recognition and if so, you need to consult with Dr. Florence Shipek, who is the leading authority on Southern California Indians.”  He said, “Shipek was the expert witness for Southern California Indians who had never lost a case in court for the Indians and was feared by the Feds because she put together bullet proof cases.”  When Mike learned that Mickey knew Dr. Shipek personally, Mike asked if there was any chance Mickey could get Shipek to speak at his Southern California Indian class because he had tried for years to no avail.  To his surprise, Dr. Shipek agreed.  Mike invited the whole department and announced that they were about to listen to the world’s leading  authority on Southern California Indians and the theater was packed as Florence talked about the Juaneños and what they needed to do get recognized.  Mike’s insatiable appetite to support the Juaneños had been launched like a rocket.  From that point on, he worked tirelessly on our petition.   Mike was the quintessential educator.  He stated his position was apolitical and his involvement would always be for the benefit of the Tribe as a whole, not for any single individual or Tribal Council. Mike had asked Mickey to adopt Florence into our Tribe for all that she had done for Southern Californian people and for the help she was willing to offer Tribe, through a small group of individuals which included Mike.  Dr. Shipek responded that Mike should be adopted first, as he lived in our territory and so was the native way.  Mike was honored and said he felt like he was a Juaneño.  A short time later, Mike was adopted into our Tribe through ceremony and his heart began beating as a Juaneño because now, he was a Juaneño.

 Mike worked with every Tribal Council and eagerly offered his assistance with only two conditions: his efforts were to remain apolitical and he was not willing to be paid.  At a time when so many offered their help to our Nation at a cost we couldn’t afford, Mike Merrifield never accepted a dime.  His integrity as an educator and as someone who truly believed in the inherent rights of the Acjachemen would never be called into question because of money.  Mike drew close to many members like Vice Chairwoman Fran Yorba and Elder June Ramos, both who no doubt welcomed him home.  Mike’s contribution resulted in thousands of pieces of paper, all of which the Tribal Council was asked to return to him as they were his property.  When the Tribal Council met with Mike this past spring, he quickly responded, “No! All of that belongs to the Tribe.”   He stated he had not been too involved with the Tribe in the past few years but he was back and ready to help us in any way he could.  We took full advantage of his offer and asked if he would consult on the program we had started with Concordia University?  Not only did he say yes immediately; he also offered and began developing a certification program with Heidi Harper-Perez and Steve Villa through Saddleback College.  It was just like old times.  His Juaneño heart was beating full force again and he was hopeful about the Tribe’s future and what he could contribute. 

 On September 24th, 2013, our Creator called Mike home.  We ask that our Creator comfort Mike’s family, friends, and students.  His Juaneño family mourns his passing and will sing his spirit home on October 8th.   He was liked by most, loved by many and respected by all, the man with a Juaneño heart.



Bobbie L. Banda

Ancestors please welcome respected Elder Barbara "Bobbie" L. Banda on May 4th, 2013.  She was welcomed by many angels and ancestors as she started her Eternal Everlasting Life. Her family and the Tribe will always remember her and will continue to honor her legacy. She was a great prayer warrior and daughter of Christ.

 From her family:  "We love you, Mom and I can't wait to join you in Heaven one day."




Fran Yorba

Miyu'm Acjachmeyam, On behalf of the Tribal Council, It is with heavy heart and much grief that the Tribe announce the passing this morning of our beloved Vice Chairwoman, Francine Pala Sommers Yorba.
Her long history of serving the Tribe with un-selfish passion and commitment to all the families in this great nation will never be forgotten as she was taken from us too soon. Leadership and sacrifice are her legacy and she would expect the same from us all.
The Mission San Juan Capistrano will ring the mission bells in Fran's honor.


Carlota“Lottie” Barrios

 Miyu'm, On behalf of the Acjachemen Tribal Council, Councilwoman Cecelia Martinez, and the Ruiz Family, It is with saddness and peace that the Tribe announce the passing of the Tribe's oldest Acjachemen citizen Carlota“Lottie” Barrios, 105 years old.

Lottie passed away peacefully on December 18, 2012 in Morgan Hill, California. Lottie also known as “Tia Lindy” was born on July 5, 1907, in El Modina, CA. She is one of the nine children born to Mary (Mireles) and Manuel Garcia Ruiz.

Her Juaneno lineage traced back to the 1700’s - a direct descendent of Fernando and Carlota whose parents were Egidia (Ochome) and Valente (Sobraal) and Ylario (Huchir) and Polonia (Tucubinim) from the villages of Tobe, Pagevepet, Juanipa. 

She is survived by her youngest sister, Mary Guerrero 91, daughter, Helen and husband Carlos Hernandez from Santa Monica; and four sons, Ray and wife Emily Barrios, Lucio and wife Minnie Barrios, George and wife Cruz Barrios and John and wife Dottie Barrios also Adolfo and Cosme Hernandez and Jesus Barrios and 14 grandchildren and several generations of grandchildren as well as numerous extended family members.  
Lottie was highly respected and revered by her family and to everyone who knew her. She lived a beautiful full life. She was so proud to be a member of the Acjachemem Nation.  Councilwoman Ceclia Martinez stated, "Our beloved “Tia Lindy”, we will miss her and will hold her loving memory in our hearts forever."  She was laid to rest on December 27, 2012 in Firebaugh, California.