PCAS General Meetings

Monthly lecture meetings feature noted archaeologists and anthropologists who provide insight into a variety of topics. Lecture meetings are held at the Irvine Ranch Water District Community Room, 15500 Sand Canyon Avenue (between the I-5 and I-405) in Irvine, on the second Thursday of each month, at 7:30 pm. Meetings are free and open to the public. See vicinity and detail maps of PCAS meeting location. For additional directions, please call Scott Findlay, 714-342-2534.

Please Note: The Irvine Ranch Water District neither supports nor endorses the cause nor activities of organizations which use the district’s meeting rooms that are made available as a public service.

You are invited to join the speaker and PCAS members for dinner before the general meeting. It's an informal opportunity to visit with an acknowledged expert. We meet at 6:00 pm at a local restaurant. Please check the newsletter (left menu) for location.

Schedule and Speakers

Please note that last minute changes may occur.

April 13, 2017
Stephen O’Neil

The Chiefs Saw What Was Happening: A Planned Acjachemen Uprising Against Mission San Juan Capistrano, AD 1778

Stephen O'Neil.

In late 1776 Mission San Juan Capistrano was established in the midst of Acjachemen tribal territory along the southern coast of California through the efforts of the Franciscan religious order and the Spanish army. A military report describes a planned uprising of the Acjachemen against the mission in spring 1778. Interrogation of insurrection leaders detailed the Acjachemen's cultural motivations for warfare and the consensus building process among clans required for such a major group activity. The Acjachemen's expression of motivations provides their own analysis of Spanish aggression toward them. Information in the report on villages and chiefs, analyzed in light of demographic data from the mission registers, provides further suggestions of Acjachemen response to the Euro-Christian attack on the traditional culture, including both active defense and withdrawal.


Stephen O’Neil has over 30 years of experience as a cultural anthropologist in California. He has researched and written on ethnography, archaeology, and history, concentrating on the ethnohistory of southern California tribal peoples. He received his MA in cultural anthropology at California State University, Fullerton.  He has expertise in the use of mission records for the study of population and social networks and is familiar with ethnobotany and rock art. O’Neil also has archaeological experience, mostly on Native American prehistoric sites, but also with Spanish, Mexican, and American period adobes. He has published in the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology, the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly, News from Native California, and the Society for California Archaeology Newsletter on topics ranging from village place names to cosmology and medicinal plants. He grew up on the Orange County coast and now lives in Laguna Canyon. O’Neil works as the Cultural Resources Manager for UltraSystems Environmental in Irvine, California.


May 11. 2017

Martin R. Jespersen and George Kline

Comparing Two Rock Art Sites in the Palen-McCoy Wilderness

Martin Jespersen

The Palen-McCoy Wilderness Area contains two prehistoric sites that are within 180 m from each other. The presentation will focus on comparing and contrasting the petroglyph elements found at the  sites (CA-RIV-12421 and CA-RIV-980). Elements, style and superimposition will be discussed. Moreover, it will focus on the presence and quantity of bighorn sheep, digitate anthropomorphs, scratches and how they differ from other well-known sites in this region.

Martín R. Jespersen attended CSU Fullerton and National University and earned his MA is in Cross-Cultural Education. He currently works in the Santa Ana Unified School District, where he is a language and culture instructor. He volunteers with the California Archaeological Site Stewardship Program to support the preservation of archeological sites. He creates and updates site records for various regions, including Palm Springs, Barstow, El Centro, and Needles and with the US Forest Service and California State Parks. Mr. Jespersen and his wife, Mary, have been mentored by George Kline and Daniel McCarthy. They have located and documented many sites in the Barstow BLM region. They have worked closely with George Kline (Palm Springs BLM) on multiple projects, including the documentation of the new Palen Tank site, CA-RIV-12421, updating the CA-RIV-980 site records, originally documented by Daniel McCarthy, and the new Dos Palmas site in the Coachella Valley. The Jespersens worked closely with Daniel McCarthy on the Coyote Hole project. Future studies will concentrate on the Native American trail system in the Palen-McCoy Wilderness scheduled for the spring 2017.


George Kline earned his MA in Anthropology with a focus on archaeology in 2008. He currentlly is an archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at the Palm Springs, South Coast Field Office, where he manages the archaeology for 1.4 million acres of public land in five counties. He is also actively involved with site protection and preservation, working with volunteers in the California Archaeological Site Stewardship program (CASSP).

June 8, 2017

Nathan Acebo

Re-Assembling the Black Star Canyon Village

Survey and excavation of Black Star Canyon Village,


The Black Star Village (CA-ORA-132) has been documented as a historic period site that was associated with the events of the “Battle of Black Star Canyon” during which a group of Native American horse thieves were massacred by hired American fur trappers in 1832. However, little effort has been made to empirically analyze the site within the broader late prehistoric settlement system and the transitional eras of colonialism. This project is focused on evaluating the concept of socio-economic autonomy in the California prehistoric and colonial coastal mountain hinterlands by assessing connections between the continued production of habitation practices and the dependencies formed through the consumption of traditional and colonial era material culture. This leads into an analysis of how pre-Hispanic systems may have influenced socio-economic structures from which historical Native identities emerged. The goal of such work is to provide insight into the late prehistoric/protohistoric settlement patterns of the southern California coastal mountains and transformations in indigenous habitation at the site across the eras of colonization by examining spatial, stylistic, and behavioral characteristics of lithic, ceramic, faunal and historical-era artifact production, consumption, and use patterns. This approach is significant because current models of pre- and post-contact settlement have not fully incorporated the northern Santa Ana Mountains into articulation of late social complexity. Black Star Village provides a case study on colonial hinterland occupation.

Nathan Acebo is a Ph.D. candidate in the Stanford University Anthropology Department and the Stanford Archaeology Center, and he is the recipient of the Stanford University Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education Doctoral Fellowship. He received his MA in Anthropology from Stanford, and his BS in Anthropology with an emphasis on cultural resource management at Cal Poly Pomona. He has participated in various colonial/prehistoric archaeological and ethnographic research projects on the Mojave Desert, southern Channel Islands, San Francisco Bay Area, and the historic Chinatowns of San Jose, California. Research focuses include network analysis, lithic analysis, microscopy (use-wear), ethnogenic models, and dominance/resistance theory.