Late Juaneño Chief Clarence Lobo
Late Juaneño Chief Clarence Lobo

[CORRECTED] Juaneño Indians Again Denied Federal Recognition

Late Juaneño Chief Clarence Lobo
*CORRECTION: The number of Juaneño Band members and percentage of whom the federal government recognized as demonstrating descent from the historical Indian tribe at San Juan Capistrano Mission has been clarified since the original version of this post was published.

Members of the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation, have had their hearts broken by the federal government again.

Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk issued a final determination to not acknowledge the modern-day tribe that claims to have maintained ties and bloodlines to the original Indian population around Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Photo by John Gilhooley/OC Weekly
Chief Anthony Rivera (glasses) and members of his Juaneño tribal council in San Juan Capistrano suffered a blow in their plight to gain federal recognition.

The Juaneños have sought federal recognition for more than 30 years. The designation would give the tribe greater sway when it comes to local land-use decisions and the possibility of introducing Indian gaming to Orange County.

But the Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) found *a band of 455 members based in Santa Ana and another with 1,940 members based in San Juan Capistrano each failed to meet four of seven mandatory criteria to gain recognition.

The failures centered on whether it could be proved a continued Indian community existed from historical times to present; whether political influence was exerted over tribal members since historical times; and whether proof existed all petitioner members descended from a historical Indian tribe.

The evidence shows that *53 percent of the Santa Ana group's 455 members and 61 percent of the San Juan Capistrano group's 1,940 members demonstrated descent from the historical Indian tribe at San Juan Capistrano Mission.

View the full decision at It will be  considered final after 90 days unless an appeal is filed with the BIA. Juaneño Chief Anthony Rivera of the San Juan Capistrano-based band vows to the Capistrano Dispatch's Jonathan Volzke he will do just that.


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