The Acjachemen Supermarket
Before Mission San Juan Capistrano
Illustration by Mary Leighton Thomson
Long before the Spanish arrived to build Mission San Juan Capistrano, the land of Orange County was home to the Acjachemen (Ah-HAWSH-eh-men) people. For thousands of years, the Acjachemen people thrived because they understood their survival was interconnected with the natural world. The oak woodlands, meadows, river marshes and ocean shores were their supermarket, pharmacy, and hardware store. The native Acjachemen viewed the land as something sacred that needed to be protected and carefully used to insure the livelihood of their people.
The Acjachemen used each plant community for food gathering. The various environment communities are highlighted below showing the types of plants or animals found in each area.
Acorns consisted about 15-25% of their diet
Greens such as Miner’s Lettuce 10-15% of their diet
Irvine Open Meadows
Seeds such as Chia 20-40% of their diet
Game or hunted animals 5-10%
Creek Side (Riparian) or Marshlands
Roots such as tule 10-15%
Fish and Shell Fish 20-35%
Megan Dukett, Education Programming
Mission San Juan Capistrano