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History of the Branciforte School site

The Native American occupants of this land would have been members of the Uypi tribal group (part of the Awaswas language group), part of the larger group known as Costanoans. The Uypi group held the mouth of the San Lorenzo River, and with Branciforte Creek running up from that river, this would undoubtedly have been land that they gathered acorns and other plant food from and hunted on. The creek would have provided many resources for these people. Try to imagine it, with thick salmon runs, bears (hungry for salmon as well), oaks, thick blackberry bushes,paths along the creek, all native vegetation.

In 1797 Villa de Branciforte was established on what is now our property. Villa de Branciforte was one of the three original secular settlements in what is now California (the others were the pueblos of Los Angeles and San Jose). The Villa de Branciforte was a hybrid community populated by soldier-settlers and established to colonize and defend Alta California against Russia, England, and France. In 1802,five years after it was founded, the Villa de Branciforte settlers attempted to establish a civil government by electing an alcalde (or mayor), an election that was perhaps the first to be held in Alta California.

The current school building, designed by William Weeks, opened in 1914 and replaced the original Branciforte School that had been located at 555 Soquel Avenue.

With the establishment of the Santa Cruz Mission and the Villa de Branciforte the Costanoans were run completely out of the Monterey Bay area. In October of 2004 descendants of the original inhabitants, the Costanoan Rumsen Carmel Tribe, came to our campus, blessed the land, and gave the school permission to use the land.

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