I will try to explain what I see in the pictures and what my friends have thought. I tried several times to show these photos to Native Americans, but they are afraid of them. This is because they agree, the photos are a ritual of cremation. The pictures were taken in my backyard in Placentia, Orange County, California September 1969. They were taken with a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye 20, with b/w 620 film. The camera cost $10.00 in 1961, and I had to wind the film myself. There were 20 photos on the roll. 19 photos developed, number 20 was black on the negative. -Rita
In July 1997, I went to the guest bedroom to search for some 8mm film I had stored in an antique cedar chest. I was wanting to put our family pictures on a VHS tape when I noticed an old Kodak box with a roll of b/w undeveloped film on a self in the cedar chest. I had written "taken in our backyard Sept. 1969". Little did I know, the photos that should have been developed, were stored for 28 years! What a mystery these photos would become in my life. Considering what had developed in the circle of the lens that would normally be impossible for a $10.00 Kodak Brownie Hawkeye using 620 film. When I took the film to Main Photo in Yorba Linda, they told me not to expect success in developing because of age. But, what a surprise when 19 of the 20 developed successfully! That evening, my daughter Lisa started looking though the photos, saying they were typical photos of her at 5 years old, her dog, cat, swing set, just a normal backyard, with great clarity!
When we looked at PHOTO
it was of Lisa standing by the sliding glass door, just outside the living
room. Nothing unusual other than she seemed to be surrounded by Ectoplasmic
mist. Ghoststudy notes however that this could just be the reflection from the
PHOTO 17, was a total surprise! There are three Native Americans dancing in a row past my camera, only developed in the camera lens with the most unusual bright light on them. They appear to be Shamans preparing for a ritual. The third Native American is strangely in total shadow or silhouette, but there are bright feathers behind his head and in front of the second dancer. There is an extremely bright area, perhaps a pool of water, in the distant background. The circle of the lens is very profound, and natural light and shadow seem not of this world. The first Indian appears to be in a crouched position, wearing a dried half of a gourd on his head. I remember finding similar gourd plants growing in the sage brush on my grandparents ranch at the foot of Mount Baldy in San Bernardino County, here in California.
PHOTO 18, becomes a greater mystery! There appears to be a ritual with an oxen at a lower level in the foreground. Possibly, there is a body tied to the back of the oxen. In the center there are two Shamans, on their knees, the one in the rear can be seen, but is transparent, both holding a long pole with a paddle on the end touching the back of the oxen. To the right there is an individual with a flute wearing a feathered skirt. There is a transparent figure right behind the flute player possibly holding a pole. This is where the mystery becomes stranger, there appears to be a Victorian woman, blonde hair, wearing a fur collared opera coat just to the right of the flute player, head tilted up, looking to the background. She seems to be sitting between more poles pointed in the direction of the oxen. The background seems distorted, with large areas of ectoplasm. To the left side of the Native Americans in the center, there is another feathered ghostly individual. To the right side of this individual, behind the oxen there is a female on her knees facing the oxen. She is transparent, but her long black hair is touching the ground. She is reaching for a pole structure behind and above her. Some have told me there appears to be an evil face in the foreground, over the oxen's back? The lens circle is still visible, but for some reason, fading. Shadow and light are unnatural, exhibiting an eerie scene.
I contacted the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles and through their information, and books suggested by them, the Native Americans in these photographs, resemble the Chumash, tribes that were not studied at great length. I live in Orange County very close to the Santa Ana River, where a number of villages were located. Canyons are near my area, where the tribes roamed and hunted. They knew where to dig for water from underground streams, therefore had pools of water in their villages. They decorated themselves with feathers from the river birds and wore skirts made of feathers and river reeds. The Chumash inland, cremated their dead in extensive ceremonies, that could last for days. In the late 1700's the Spanish arrived in my area, forcing the Chumash to help build the 21 missions built the length of California. They were renamed Gabrielinos by the Spanish. They rapidly died from abuse and common diseases brought by the Spanish. My area is a prehistoric freeway for the inland route of California. In 1837, Mexico gave Don Pacifico Ontiveros an extensive land grant called Rancho San Juan de Santa Ana. My home is on this former land grant. When California became a state in 1848, as stated before, the Chumash were exterminated by violence, disease or even had bounties put on their heads like coyotes, if they did not leave. I date these photos in the late 1700's into the 1800's because the Chumash were not aware of farm animals until the Spanish soldiers arrived. In 1962, we were planting a tree in our backyard, when we discovered partly cremated bones including a jaw bone with some teeth in the soil. They were taken to California State College at Long Beach. We were told they were of a Mongol type female approximately 7,000 years old. What a surprise this was to us, a newly married young couple with our first new home! I often walked to that area in our yard and wondered what she looked like and how she died. The college kept the bones for further study. Our home sits where there was a large citrus grove, planted in the early 1900's. In 1972, we built a large living room that covered three-forths of our backyard. There is a baby grand piano sitting where we found the bones. When Lisa was small and taking piano lessons, she used to hear a flute playing next to her when she practiced. She used to scream at me saying, "The flutes paying again. Can I quit practicing?" I believe they are still here, their entry point is in the center of the house. Often we smell a sweet burning wood that follows us from room to room and then disappears as quickly as it comes. We hear children giggling where there are no children and observe life size "shadow people" that appear behind us only to dart away at a great speed, but not fast enough so we can see them. Recently we bought a new computer, and the screen saver has a grotto scene with moving colorful reef fish moving back and forth. The audio sounds like water gushing and bubbling. There is also sounds of a tropical storm. On several occasions, we have found many tiny finger prints on the screen, like someone was trying to follow the moving fish. Lisa and I are the only ones living here and using the computer. There is often the wood smell near us when we are working on the computer. Many friends have smelled the wood burning, wasting time, sniffing the air, walking through our home and outside, only to have it disappear in a second, leaving them standing there feeling foolish.
I recently drove through Carbon Canyon, a beautiful wild place just north of my home. I stopped to look at what remains of the virgin hills and valleys. There are places there in the canyon where time has stood still. The trees and vegetation have not changed since the time that the Indian villages were there. The experience with the photographs made me realize that I was blind to my surroundings. For some reason, I feel the spirits in the photographs wanted me to know that they had a life here and that they want to be remembered; they are doing their best to draw my attention to that fact. The future and the past; what does this mean in time? They were here, as I am now here, and will someday be just a memory as they are now.
Thank you, Rita Swift.
PS. I found a place in New York that can supply the old 620 film. Maybe, I should get the old camera out and see what it photographs? It appears to have the gift
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