IN LOVING MEMORY:
Ada Prieto Kumeyaay Elder
Ada Prieto, Kumeyaay, was born on the Sycuan Indian Reservation on July 13, 1905.
Ada is a fourth-generation Sycuan Indian to have lived her entire life on the Sycuan Indian Reservation, along with her mother, Isabel Mesa Aguirre, and her father, Paisano Aguirre.
"When we were little, our mother (Ada) would take us all around California and Arizona to traditional gatherings, back when they were called 'fiestas,' and she loved to travel to different reservations and visit our relatives," said Anna Sandoval.
"We have relatives all over, even on the La Jolla Indian Reservation everybody knows my mother," said George Prieto.
"My mother was well respected and known, that's how come we know so many people," added Anna.
"I remember," continued Anna, "my mother only went to school up until the third grade, and her biggest dream was to have more education, and to learn to speak English."
The only language Ada knew was Kumeyaay, but that didn't stop her from giving her daughter, Anna, advice about the future of the reservation. "My mother also taught me to always respect others, especially my elders," Anna said.
"Traditions meant everything to my mother. I often tell my grandchildren about Sycuan history, culture, and especially the traditions that were so important to my mother. Our people need to understand the importance of honoring our ancestors and our traditions and to never forget the hardship and depravation our people went through to get where we are today," said Anna.
"There are many things I miss about her (his grandmother Ada)," said Sycuan Vice Chairman Joseph Sandoval. "One is my grandma's kindness and lovingness towards all people.... She's one of the last remaining Indians that loved all people.
"And second thing I miss most about her was when we watched wrestling she would get real excited and thought it was real. Those times make me laugh."
Ray Sandoval Sr., said, "I lived with my grandma (Ada) most of my life, and she was like my second mom. She used to scold me a lot because I didn't make it to school on time. I loved spending time with her. In the mornings (she) would watch me run down the road to catch the school bus, and when I was out of her sight, I would wait as the school bus passed by, then I would come back home and say I've missed the bus.
"I remember her scolding me in Kumeyaay," Raymond added with tears in his eyes. "At the time I did not know what she was talking about, but I knew she was angry. Through the years that she scolded me, speaking in Indian, I began to understand her."
"It's hard to believe that Ada's been gone for 10 years," said Daniel J. Tucker, Sycuan Tribal Chairman.
"As I sit at my desk and look out the window, I can see the old windmill that we used to play on when we were kids," Chairman Tucker continued. "Coming to her house on Sunday with my mom and dad, she always had a pot of beans, a stack of fry bread and tortillas for anyone to eat. As kids, she always made us feel like we were welcome.
"I think about the struggles our elders have gone through while living on the reservation, and the thought of just being able to survive," Chairman Tucker added. "As a tribal leader, it makes me work harder to protect what we have and to protect the sovereignty of this tribe, and also protect the sacrifices that our elders made to have this reservation continue to grow after all these years."
Ada was quoted in a 1993 pow-wow article by Arlene Galvan:
In Ada's Native language, she said, "Life could have been happier if I had known what school was and that there was opportunity available to be taught the many things that could have opened the employment doors for me."
As Ada was preparing to end her 1993 pow-wow address to the audience, she added, "Tell the children to go to school and stay in school. Learn all they can because life is very hard without education. Give yourself a chance by giving yourself and education."
In this 10th anniversary article honoring of her passing, the Sycuan Prieto and Sandoval families honored Ada Aguirre-Prieto with these words in their 2005 pow-wow magazine:
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