Naturalist Notebook Series: Inhabitants of Black Star Village


The Irvine Ranch Conservancy is proud to introduce the Naturalist Notebook Series, which will offer a variety  topics to enhance your knowledge of the Landmarks  and Open Space. As well, it is an opportunity to provide interpretive engagement for the public.

Join us this month to hear Nathan Acebo from The Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at Stanford as he presents:

The Archaeology of The Black Star Canyon Village: Rethinking the Santa Anas As an Indigenous Landscape

A trip into Black Star Canyon is often anchored by a stop at the California Historical Landmark (#217) Black Star Canyon Village in the Mariposa Reserve, which memorializes the 1832 “Battle of Black Star Canyon”. For decades, rumors and folklore regarding a Native American massacre have circulated through Orange County and across the Los Angeles Basin. Unbeknownst to the public, the village site was excavated by the federal government, preservation groups, and academic archaeologists during the 1920s, 30s, 50s and 70s and generated a substantial collection of archaeological finds. Unfortunately, archaeological collections across each project were never analyzed and therefore, no one, including Orange County’s leading historians, anthropologists and archaeologists has been able to answer the question: Who were the inhabitants of the village? Research at Stanford University, conducted in collaboration with members from the descendant Acjachemen and Tongva indigenous communities, has focused on reconstructing the village’s archaeological record to understand life in mountains before and during Spanish colonization, and after the battle event. Archaeological, ethnographic and historical data from the village now sheds light on the indigenous history of the Santa Ana Mountains and the mountain landscape’s role in facilitating the survival of native cultural traditions within the context of colonization.

Nathan Acebo is a Ph.D. candidate in the Stanford department of Anthropology, and the recipient of the Charles E. Rozaire Award for Student Research in California Archaeology. He holds a fellowship in the Stanford Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education program and has received funding support from the National Science Foundation, the Stanford Diversity Dissertation Research Opportunity Grant, and the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society. Nathan’s specialties/interests include: geochemical trace element analysis, analytical microscopy, and resistance theory.

Registration is required. We welcome volunteers, their guests, and the public.

All Irvine Ranch Conservancy volunteers please register for this event as a trainee to earn continuing education volunteer hours.  Space is limited.

Our Naturalist Notebook format is as follows:

  • 6:00-6:30 PM-Yummy Food, Refreshments will be served.
    • Meet and Greet, Volunteers Share Trail Stories
  • 6:30-7:30-Presentation
  • 7:30 PM-Socialize




Activity Details Led by IRC

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Duration (hours:minutes):
Irvine Ranch Conservancy
Irvine Ranch Conservancy
Staging Area:
IRC Office-Conference Room
Minimum Age:
Spaces Left:

Registration is closed for this activity.