“Indian Burial Ground” Seal Beach Legend

Main Piece: “So there is this story that I was told as a kid, that involves this Indian burial ground and the coyote dens who live around it. So story goes that back before anyone ever lived in Seal Beach there was this Indian Tribe that moved into the area of Gum Grove Park. They lived there for many years without any problems, and for the most part lived a pretty uneventful life. Then one day, a group of the Indians had to leave the grounds to go find food for the rest of the tribe. The group went out and was having lots of trouble finding food this time around, until they finally came across some deer. The hunting party killed as much as they could carry, and then headed back to their home. However, when they arrived back the tribe had been murdered by something. The hunters searched for days and days to see if they could find the people or the animal that was responsible, but they found nothing. The hunters eventually buried their dead in the burial ground that is still in Gum Grove, and instead of leaving to start a new life, the hunters stayed at the burial ground and opted to die alongside their tribe. After all the hunters had died, there was a sudden influx in coyotes in the area and especially in the area surrounding the burial ground. They created their dens behind the burial ground, and it is believed that these coyotes are the hunters that were reincarnated as protectors of this sacred ground. And every night at around midnight they would howl and cry, as they are still not over the loss of their family and friends.”


Background: KS said that this is a legend that he remembers hearing form his father when he was a child. KS also said that this very park is incredibly close to his house, and that as a kid he loved going with his family to play at the park. But as the years went by, KS liked going and exploring the park with friends and, thus this story would come back into his mind every time they went to the park. They knew that this burial ground was deep in the park and very secluded, and it also had warning signs that would count down to 10, but KS said that he only ever went their once because it had such an eerie feeling. And KS said that he was able to hear the coyotes at night as well, as one time he even saw a couple of the coyote dens the reside by the burial ground.


Context of the Performance: KS told me this legend of the Indian Burial ground while we were discussing some of the most famous stories from our communities. This was one that KS particularly remembered and said that it was one of the more unsettling things he had ever experienced.


Analysis: This legend is interesting for a couple of reasons. For starters, there isn’t a whole lot of other information about this particular legend on the internet. This in now way means that what KS heard isn’t true or that he is lying, but I think it speaks to just how specific this legend is to his life and perhaps his family. Seeing as how the park was so close to his house, it is entirely possible that his parents used this as a way to discourage him from exploring the more dense areas of the park so that he would stay safe. There are most certainly coyotes in the area, and for a kid to be exploring on his own could definitely be dangerous. Additionally I think this also functions as a legend that seeks to remind us of the horrors that we committed to Native Americans. Having the entire tribe beings slaughtered bye an unknown enemy, and then choosing to die rather than leave their homeland I think is a very powerful way of showing the struggle between Native Americans’ pride and struggle for their land, and the greedy and destructive nature of the colonizer.