ATTRIBUTION: ALEJO PATENCIO
LIVED: Circa 1852* - 3/28/1930
FORMER STREET NAME: North Street
Alejo Patencio, a net (ceremonial leader) of the kauisik clan, administered the affairs of the people in the late 1890s. He knew all the ceremonial songs (the oral history of the Cahuilla), was in charge of the maiswut (sacred bundle), resolved disputes, and set dates for all sacred and secular ceremonies. As was often practiced in pre-contact times, Alejo at one time lived and ruled from the kishumna’a, or ceremonial house – the symbolic center of clan life.
The hereditary role of net was normally passed from father to the oldest or most capable son, but female nets were not unknown in Cahuilla history. Alejo Patencio was the elder brother of Francisco Patencio; Francisco would later succeed him as the net. In 1947, Albert Patencio became the final net until his death in 1951. At this time the kishumna'a was burned and not rebuilt, marking a break with traditional Cahuilla religious practices.
Alejo greatly enriched our modern understanding of traditional Cahuilla society thanks to his collaboration with William Duncan Strong, author of Aboriginal Society in Southern California, in the 1920s. The boundaries of kauisik traditional territories and the creation story of the Pass Cahuilla people are among the oral traditions preserved as a result of Alejo imparting his traditional knowledge.
* the 1926 Mission Agency Census disagrees and lists 1864 as the birth year
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