February 16 - 18, 2020 | Pechanga Resort Casino | Temecula, California
Tuesday, February 18; 8:45 am - 10:00 am
Tuesday, February 18: 10:30 am - 11:45 am
Tuesday, February 18: 2:15 pm - 3:30 pm
"To the Pechanga people, the land and The Great Oak that stands upon it carry meaning that transcends physical presence. The Great Oak has come to embody the identity and character of the Pechanga Band; strength, wisdom, longevity and determination. The Great Oak, known as Wi’áaşal by Pechanga people, is recognized as the largest naturally grown indigenous coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) in the Western United States. Its trunk is over 20 feet in circumference, and the above-ground portion of the tree is nearly 100 feet tall. Wi’áaşal's largest branches reach the ground, supporting the tree's weight and creating a sheltering canopy for countless generations of people and animals. The Great Oak is over 1,000 years old, making it one of the oldest living oak trees in the Western United States.
The Greak Oak is located in an area known as Great Oak Ranch. It was located just outside the borders of the reservation land granted to the Pechanga people in 1882. In 2001, the Pechanga Tribe purchased the Great Oak Ranch, Wi’áaşal, and the 1000 acres surrounding it. In April 2003, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians had the Great Oak Ranch properly put into federal trust by President Bush. This property is now part of the Pechanga Reservation.
Part of the Great Oak's significance lies in the fact that, despite its great age, it continues to produce acorns, one of the foods that sustained native Californians for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. The Great Oak produces acorns every two or three years. Cultural Department employees and the Pechanga Youth transplant the tiny acorn saplings that have sprouted under the Great Oak's canopy into pots. When they are large enough, Wi’áaşal's children are planted elsewhere on the reservation."