Weshoyot Alvitre


Prayers for Puvunga

(paper created from cotton, wool, tobacco; 2019)

Untouchable Artifacts · Prayers 4 Puvungna


“Our Creation story begins here.

A circle formed from the clay.

A ring forever tying us to the land.

A gathering place.


What they are doing now is mindless.

Coming onto our lands,

Capturing our water,

At Rancho Los Alamitos was mindless.

Building a university,

A place of education,

And not acknowledging

Our history of thousands

Upon thousands of years

Is mindless.

They are without minds.

Only beings without minds

can be capable of such


Open land is bait for development.

They want to devour the flesh

Of our mother.

They are like coyote-

Like Eyacque.




Imagine if time were to freeze-

-imagine if Eno did not steal from Quiot.

Where would we be?

As people of the earth still-

White clay in our mouths in prayer.

When we became

Like humans we

Learned to build.

Thatched homes of

Willow and tulle,

In the style of children:

Of ripe womb, round

And with openings

At the top to connect

Us to the stars-

To the creator.

And to Chinigchchinich.

In his last months,

Moyla Xwayyaant Mukat,

Ouiot requested to be

Taken to healing

Waters which run

Beneath the lands and

Connect them like arteries.

He did not speak often.

His voice was scarce and husky.

He was thinking hard about the groups of races of beings

Needed for the people to survive.

He was enchanted

By red legged

frog woman.


He watched her as she sat along the lakes edge.

She refused to swim.

Her long hair

Covered her back

But as she stood up,

His lust waned.

She heard his thoughts and

Vowed to poison him.

And so she did.

And Ouiot fell ill,

Preparing to die.

Ouiot was frail

And died in the

month of Tawnuyil Mukat

-big white month-


His people were soon summoned

and they gathered at Puvungna.

So many came to the gathering

That the land could not contain them.

His funeral bundle was prepared in the most careful of ways.

Elderberry water washed his sparce belongings.

A pole was erected

High into the sky,

Like a swing tethered to the other worlds.

Patterns of the worlds above

And the worlds below

Were made in the sand

in the world we know.

White clay was used:

Covering the grounds

Like sacred snow.

White clay was placed

In the hair of all who attended.

The sun made halos

On the heads

Of all beings.

The land shone.

Smoke rose from

the fire like a dragon.

Eno came.

He leaped.

He bit.

But he could not reach

his fathers hearts

to steal.

The flames were too much

And the people came with sticks

To protect their father

As he interred.

Eno leapt away,

His fur was scorched

And covered in ash.

To this day his fur

Is singed from

Ouiot’s funerary pyre.

Today the land

Is overgrown with eucalyptus, scrub oaks,

And invasive weeds.

Non-Native plants

And dried, cut grass

Almost makes us forget

How beautiful we must have been.

How fertile and healthy

We once were…

How lovely we are.

The shells poke through the

Tired dirt, remnants and

Reminders that it was sacred ground.

That it is sacred ground.

As it will always be.

The legend of the land

Is often unknown: even

By it’s own people.

It’s scattered and

Fragmented like

Shell midden-

-like our oral history-

Like out language

Like our tribe

Like our grasps on sovereignty-

We remain.

We are wild

like the land.

We will always be

The earth underfoot.

No matter what weight

Is placed on our backs-

-no matter what they try

To build to stifle us-

-we will shake it off

Like water-

Like our mother

Does when she quakes-

We are ‘People of the earth’.


The earth always returns to itself;

Its original state.

The red ties

ornament the trees

letting visitors know these

are not just trees.

Red ochre

Is hard to find these days

Cotton is not


But neither are


We have to reclaim

What we can after

Losing so much.

The trees are like us:

Our roots latched

To the earth mother


To survive.

We are misfits.

Our DNA from across the seas,

Nourished by a mother who does not judge

Our foreign bark

And tree sap.

We are merely children

Grasping to hold onto whatever

Life we know.

The land will not let us perish.

It is not that cruel

Tamaayawut will not let us die.

We, as mix-blood children,

Products of love,

Products of rape,

Seeds from the Spanish stock and foreigners

-are still here today,

Surviving despite

Our biodiversity being varied-


-half blood




Outside our control.

Sling our hearts

Over and over

Across this land

You mow over.

Tread our bones

And carelessly crush them

So carefully buried

-So carelessly crushed-

Like shell midden.

The things we treasure

Are not hard, long lasting.

They do not burden us like gold

Or other material wealth.

Instead they soften,


Turn to dust so we may breathe

Them in,

So they may plant themselves in our lungs

To our blood,

To our hearts.

Our families are not ghosts

They’re still on this land

Just in different form.


We will slip

From your hands.

The ancient ones watch

And discuss in soft

Buzzing and gentle breezes

Our language drifts

In and out of the branches

Like soft wings.

And when they are angry

The air becomes dizzy

And the grounds open

And shake.

The vibrations of the land

Then become bitter on the tongue,

But tasty in that way in which

memories are triggered.

When it gets dark,

And the sun’s soft glow

Disappears from the soft earth,

A presence settles on the land.

What a place to behold

Before the light pollution

Stole it’s still demeanor

And unmoving nuance.

The starlight would coat

the lands in the most

careful hues…

The moonlight would

Illuminate mothers curves

And crevices…

And the darkness would

Swallow us all back to

Another time-

But the same place.

Seeds would ride the

Warm winds and settle,

Heavy acorns would fall

Be nourished by their mothers

And take root

At their feet.

Our minds and bodies

So injured

Over so short a time

Could heal.

Imagine what that

could feel like?

Imagine who we could

Return to be?

I try to catch these thoughts,

These small tufts of memories,

Floating in the thick air

Over Puvungna,

Like seeds from our

Ancestors prayers.

The land is ripe.

We just need to remember…

The land is here

We just need to remember…

That the now

Is the past.

The present

Is the ever was.

Prayers for Puvungna.”

—Weshoyot Alvitre

Weshoyot Alvitre is a female author and illustrator from the Tongva tribe of Southern California. She currently resides with her husband and two children on Ventureno Chumash Territory in Ventura, California. Her work focuses on an Indigenous lens and voice on projects from children’s books to adult market graphic novels. She has recently been published as artist in “GHOSTRIVER: The Fall and Rise of the Conestoga” graphic novel from Red Planet Books, ABQ. in collaboration with the Library Company of Philadelphia; “At The Mountains Base” written by Traci Sorell, Kokila; and was Art Director on the video game “When Rivers Were Trails.” She enjoys spinning yarn and collecting antiques.

Curator's Note

Weshoyot makes her own paper and ink. The materials for the piece are cotton, wool, and tobacco. 

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