|"FIG TREE JOHN:
Ernie C. Salgado Jr., Soboba tribal member, July 2009
Fact or fiction? “Fig Tree John” is listed on the Internet by several writers expressed interest in the myth or fact of “Fig Tree John” as he was named because he was credited with planting the first fig tree in the Coachella Valley.
Yes, for us Indians “Fig Tree John” was a real person. His real name was John Razon and he was a tribal member of the Torres Martinez Band of Cahuilla Indians. He was also the Tribal Spokesman for the Torres Martinez Tribal Council during the 1920’s. He was also a member of the Mission Indian Federation. He was listed on the government records as one of the Fifty-seven (57) Federation leaders arrested and charged with "conspiracy against the government" in 1923 a year before citizenship was granted to the American Indians.
Little is known about Mr. Razon because the Mission Indian Federation went underground after the mass arrest and subsequent release when the charges were dropped for lack of any evidence. However, the Government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs continued to harass and undermine the effort of the Federation.
What is interesting is that many of the descendants of the early Tribal Leaders that were members of Mission Indian Federations continue to lead their tribes today. However, this article is dedicated to the ancestors of John “Fig Tree John” Razon.
John “Fig Tree John” Razon had two children a boy, John Razon Jr. and a girl, Minnie Mack Razon. Not much is known about their early childhood or where they went to school.
Both siblings married and moved to the San Jacinto Valley. John Jr. married Clemencia “Clementine” Silvas a member of the Soboba Band of Mission Indians (Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians as the name was changed a few year back). Ms. Clemencia Silvas also had a brother, Leandro “Lee” Silvis. Minne Mack married a gentleman from the Pechanga Band of Mission Indians, William “Bill” Miranda.
The Razon family made their home on the Soboba Reservation while the Miranda family live in the city of San Jacinto on Santa Fe St. near the cross St. of Esplanade, just three miles west of the Soboba Indian Reservation. Both had large families that attended the San Jacinto schools.
Ms. Clemencia Razon was active in the Soboba politics and also served on the Tribal Council, as did her twin daughters Martina and Lupe. Lupe married Dee Boniface who was also a member of the Soboba tribe. Sandy “Boniface” Arres, Lupe and Dee’s daughter served on the Soboba Tribal Council.
Martina “Tina” married Lester Lopez from Torres Martinez. Their eldest son Arthur Lopez was enrolled at Torres Martinez and served as the Tribal Chairman. Carl and Darrel Lopez were enrolled at Soboba and both served on the Soboba Tribal Council, Carl as the Tribal Spokesman and Darrel on the Tribal Council.
Another daughter of John and “Clementine” May married a non-Indian and their daughter; Maxine Resvaloso was enrolled at Torres Martinez and is currently serving on the Tribal Council.
Another grandson of John Jr. and Calmencia Razon, Gordon Placencia was recently elected to the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians Tribal Council and is the son of Irene “Razon” Placencia.
Leroy “Lukas McCain” Miranda is the eldest son of Minnie Mack and William “Bill” Miranda. He married a lady from the Pala Indian reservation, Donna Lavado. Their son Leroy Miranda Jr. is currently the Vice-Chairman for the Pala Band of Mission Indians as well as the leader of the cultural resurgence of the tribe. (The nickname “Lukas McCain” is another story for another time.)
John “Fig Tree John” Razon may not only have planted the first fig tree in the Coachella Valley his legacy continues to have a direct positive impact on at least three Southern California Indian Reservations, Soboba, Torres Martinez and Pala.
Like Sonny & Cher’s song “The Beat Goes On.”
ERNIE SALGADO JR
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Reservation: Soboba Indian Reservation
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