Ghost Story – Hispanic/Native-American

The San Buena Ventura Mission in Ventura County, CA was built on an Indian Burial ground.  Next to the mission a school was built called Holy Cross for grades kindergarten through eight. One of the buildings was really old, it was first building of the school. The school used to be a small one-building school. The building had a bell tower and the bell tower was said haunted by the spirits from the burial site. Friends of Charly claim to have heard funny noises and seen shadows when no one was there. The bell tower was torn down 4 years ago. On the night the tower was torn down people nearby claimed that there were strange noises and lights around the construction site. A new, really large school building was built in its place. Now it is said that if you are at the new building at night time lights will flash on and off and that you will hear sounds. These are supposed to be signs from the angry spirits in the burial ground. They were angry that they were built on top of in the first place and remain angry that buildings still stand over the burial ground.

Charly went to Holy Cross School in the 6th grade. She said that she heard the story when she became a student at the school. She said that the new students were always told this story when they first got to the school to scare them. This ghost story could be seen as a type of initiation for the new students. Charly said the kids would tell the new kids this story and then also embellish different parts of the story. She said that the kids would pick normal, modern objects and claim that they were haunted too just to scare the new kids and make them feel uncomfortable. This would go on only for a few weeks in the beginning of the year according to Charly, after that liminal period the students would get tired of scaring and just accept the new kids.

The setting of angry Indian spirits is a common beginning to many ghost stories. The Indian polytheistic belief system is directly juxtaposed with the Christian monotheism in this story because a Christian mission is built on top of the burial ground. This may symbolize the stomping out of Naive American beliefs by monotheism and the oppression the Indians went through during the colonization and Christianization of southern California. The angry spirits are a means of retaliation by the Indian people and also bring recognition of their presence.

The active bearers of the story are middle school aged children, ages 12-13. At this age kids are beginning to want to impress others, boys impressing girls and vice versa, and therefore scaring a new kid may be a way to impress these groups. Also, if a new kid says he or she’s not scared he will probably impress the new kids more than if he bought into the story and revealed his fear.

Kids telling ghost stories or daring each other is a commonplace in middle schools, especially when it involves welcoming a new person into social groups. At this age social groups and standards are becoming more important and cliques are established. The ghost story of the Indian burial ground at Holy Cross appears to serve more as a hazing ritual for the new students at the school versus a story actually investigated by the students.