Father Serra - Missionary

Father Serra - Missionary
Always forward, never back

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A California With Which I am Unfamiliar

I cannot even begin to estimate the endless hours I've spent research the Californias for my Father Serra's Legacy. I've done every kind of search possible, to include trips to the local public library. And then, I come across something that completely sends me sideways!

A year or two ago, during my original search, I came across a historical tome written by a Hubert Howe Bancroft written in 1885 and published that year in San Francisco, California. It was a real channel because Bancroft added copious footnotes at the bottom of each page. So, when they digitized them for public view, a lot of the formatting did not carry over. In addition, it was hand typeset and a whole lot of characters that appear correct on the actual page did not transfer over during the digitizing. For example, the name Jose NEVER had the José at the end, often appearing as Jos6.

And then, there were two page formats! The basic text only covered about half of each page while the footnotes extended thirty or more characters. So, in order to make sense of it, I've had to extract the text and put it in one file while extracting the footnotes and putting them in another. And then, I've had to go back and reformat it line by line while trying to make corrections.

But, it's proving to be worthwhile!

Bancroft spends most of the hundreds of pages of the tome to civil and military affairs from 1825 to 1840 [In this tome and I have two others completing the history up to 1848 when the Americans take complete control of the once Mexican Territory!] And, during most of it, he proclaims the missions to be closed tyrannies run by the friars whose loyalties lie with the king of Spain.

Mexico, after giving up its attempt at being an Empire, formed itself into the United Mexican States with a constitution similar to that of its neighbor to the north. That republicanism meant free elections at all levels. Surprisingly, this was nothing new in the missions and pueblos, as from the beginning, elections were held for a variety of offices in both places. The biggest problem came with trying to implement in California what had so easily been done in Mexico itself – turn the missions over to the Indians and let them run things, the Padres only their to perform their religious duties. That was okay in Mexico as the Indians and Mestizos [half-breeds] has assimilated with European society. But, it was simply unworkable in California – something the governors seemed to understand.

It was the Californian land owners and emigrants who opposed the mission system, wanting those fertile lands for themselves.

One of these men was Pio Pico, an ambitious man who played a big role in stealing missions lands from the Indians during his term as governor.

Don Luis Argüello was elected governor when Mexico gained its independence. He was a Leatherjacket Soldier who'd served in California since 1781/ Like all his fellow Soldados de cuera, had had been born in Mexico and was therefore the first non-Spanish governor of the territory.

The first major change came in 1825 when José María de Echeandía arrived to become governor. He brought with him a large retinue, to include women and children. [We later learn he had an Indian mistress who gave him children.]

Along with him came a further democratization of California society. A Junta was formed as a sort of local congress, electing and sending a representative to the congress in Mexico. It was also a time for town councils and more local government. As Echeandía needed funds to support local government, he instituted taxes and other revenues. The result was an increase in smuggling, tanned hides and tallow being the coveted goods by ships from all nations.

Mexico also wanted California to act as its penal colony, sending convicts there under military guard. One of the convicts, Joaquin Solis had apparently been a high-ranking officer in the war for independence and, in 1828, he led a revolution in an attempt to make California separate from Mexico. He wasn't the first and throughout the first decade, this was a constant thread.

Another little side note, the president guardian of the missions, Prefect Antonio Sarria was asked to take the oath of allegiance to the Mexican republic. He refused, announcing his allegiance to the king of Spain. He stayed in California, sometimes under “arrest” until 1838 when he sailed for Cuba.

Unrest was rife and, when Mexico replaced Echeandía with Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Victoria, he met further unrest to the point of an actual rebellion in which soldiers at both sides died and were wounded.

At the same time, things aren't exactly calm in Mexico and California isn't really receiving must support. The soldiers are destitute and would starve if not for the foods and other goods provided by the missions.

It was in the atmosphere, that Mexico continued to demand the freedom of the Indians and the secularization of the missions.

Spaniards are supposed to leave Mexican territories. But, how can the missions survive without them. In 1834, ten Padres arrive from Zacatecas, all Mexican-born and none of them qualified to take over as missionaries. But, not wishing further problems, Father President Durán works up a compromise where the Zacatecans take over the northern missions while the Fernandos [the original friars] go to those in the south. And, when at last, the governor gives the Indians of leaving the missions to set up their own ranchos, the overwhelming majority refuse!

And this is all from only the first ELEVEN chapters of the first book!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

American California

I have never posted a piece from a news source and am only doing so as it indirectly deals with the overall theme of this blog – California Indians.

1863 Indian Massacre Site Uncovered in California
Now, the Paiutes and DWP are fighting to leave the area untouched
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff, Posted Jun 9, 2013 9:29 AM CDT

(Newser) – Archaeologists say they've stumbled upon a grim page in American history: the site of the 1863 Owens Lake massacre. The Los Angeles Times [http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-massacre-site-20130603,0,1495973,full.story ] provides a history lesson: The Paiute Indians occupied land some 200 miles north of LA that proved desirable to an influx of ranchers in the mid 1800s. The Owens Valley Indian War broke out in 1861, but a seminal moment occurred on March 19, 1863: Settlers and soldiers battled with the Paiutes, who tried to flee their attackers by swimming into the lake, but were thwarted by a strong wind; nearly three dozen of them drowned or were shot. The tale of that day remains, but the exact location was lost.

That's in part because officials diverted the Owens River in 1913 in order to feed LA's water needs, reports Grist; by the middle of the next decade, Owens Lake was no more. But heavy winds and rains in 2009 may have helped return bullets, buttons, and Native American artifacts to the surface; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power archaeologists found them during a survey last year. But the discovery is spurring a small controversy: The dry lake bed fuels toxic dust storms, and DWP has been charged with mitigating that with shallow flooding—at what is now thought to be the massacre site. The Paiutes want the area left untouched; DWP agrees, and is in discussions on how to make that happen. "We take this personally," says a tribal historic preservation officer. "My grandmother told me about this massacre and she knew the people it happened to. This ground, and the artifacts in it, is who we are."

No way Indians little removed from the Stone Age could stand against ranchers and soldiers armed with these.

And this is the Los Angeles Times article.

DWP archaeologists uncover grim chapter in Owens Valley history

Researchers believe that bullets, musket balls, cavalry uniform buttons and Native American artifacts found in Owens Lake point to the massacre of 35 Paiute Indians by settlers and soldiers in 1863.

By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times

June 2, 2013, 4:28 p.m.

LONE PINE, Calif. — Oral histories of Native Americans and U.S. Cavalry records offer insights into a horrific massacre here in 1863: Thirty-five Paiute Indians were chased into Owens Lake by settlers and soldiers to drown or be gunned down.

But the records are silent on one important point. Exactly where did the massacre occur on the moonlit night of March 19, 1863?

An archaeological find in what is today a vast alkali playa has revealed a cache of bullets, musket balls, cavalry uniform buttons and Native American artifacts that Paiute tribal members and researchers believe are evidence of the grim chapter in Owens Valley history.

The site has been lost to history for more than 100 years, a time in which Los Angeles drained most of Owens Lake to slake the growing city's thirst. Strong winds and torrential rain in 2009 may have uncovered the artifacts, which were found by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power archaeologists surveying the area in preparation for dust mitigation projects.

Dust wasn't a problem in the mid-19th century at Owens Lake, 200 miles north of Los Angeles. Native Paiutes hunted along the lake and diverted the flow of local streams to irrigate fields of wild hyacinth and yellow nutgrass.

But disputes arose as settlers poured into the valley and began ranching on the tribe's pasture lands. U.S. troops were sent to protect the settlers and the land and water they had effectively stolen from the Paiutes.

By 1860, the Paiutes' land had been overrun with cattle and sheep. Tensions spiked when Paiutes took down a settler's cow or ox to eat during the severe winter of 1861.

During the Owens Valley Indian War, between 1861 and 1866, ranchers — backed by troops — and the Paiutes tried to wipe each other out. Paiute homes and stores of food were destroyed. Paiutes fought back with bows and arrows, and a few guns.

On March 19, 1863, 20 soldiers and 10 white settlers attacked Paiutes who were reportedly killing livestock in the area. The battle began in a nearby oak grove and the Paiutes ran into the lake, hoping to swim to safety.

However, "a strong wind was blowing from the east and the Indians could make little progress in swimming against it; therefore they became easy targets for the men hunting them," historian Dorothy Clora Cragen wrote in her book, "The Boys in the Sky-Blue Pants."

After taking a shot at one of the Indians trying to swim beyond the range of gunfire, a white settler raised his fist and shouted, "Die, damn you, in the lake!" she wrote. "And the Indian did."

"Darkness came on but there was a bright moon, and the soldiers and citizens formed a line along the … shore, and remained there until the bodies began to wash ashore," Cragen wrote. Only two Paiutes are thought to have survived that day.

DWP archaeologists discovered the site a year ago, but its existence had been kept private to prevent looting and vandalism. Now, a nasty dispute between the department and air pollution authorities is forcing it into the open.

The site is on a section of the lake bed that state air pollution authorities say contributes to choking dust storms in the Owens Valley. As the lake was drained over the last century, it left vast salt flats prone to sending up powder-fine dust that often exceeds federal health standards.

Sixteen years ago, on orders from the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, the DWP embarked on a $1.2-billion campaign to mitigate dust with shallow flooding and gravel.

The effort largely succeeded, but air pollution officials said the DWP needed to do more. Over the objections of the utility, Great Basin called for mitigation measures on other portions of the lake bed — including the land where the DWP later made its discovery. Now, the utility is siding with Paiutes who want to make the area off-limits to dust mitigation projects.

On a recent weekday, Kathy Jefferson Bancroft, tribal historic preservation officer for the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation, brushed away dirt from an ancient grinding stone she had found a few minutes earlier along a stretch of lake bed shoreline sparkling with shards of volcanic glass and chert left by ancient Paiutes making tools and arrowheads.

Nearby mounds of rocks harbored the newly discovered remains of her ancestors killed in the massacre. Cragen's research found that only Paiute men were slain that day, but Bancroft says that women and children were among the victims.

"Just over there, 150 years ago, our people ran into the water and then were picked off," she said, nodding toward a silent expanse of cracked clay and salt.

"We take this personally — my grandmother told me about this massacre and she knew the people it happened to," she said. "This ground, and the artifacts in it, is who we are."

Brancroft said the land should be left undisturbed. "These artifacts do not belong to archaeologists. They belong here. They are not ours to bother."

Great Basin, the DWP and local tribal leaders are trying to strike a compromise that would spare the site from disturbance. It also would avoid a showdown in court between requirements of the federal Clean Air Act and laws that protect historical artifacts: the National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

One alternative under discussion would ban construction on the massacre site and have the DWP mitigate dust on roughly 350 acres of land elsewhere in Owens Valley.

DWP spokesman Joe Ramallo said the utility believes the site, as well as other land where archaeologists have found artifacts, should not be disturbed by mitigation efforts. He said the department's proposal would "protect these areas, improve habitat, control dust and save water and our customers' money."

Great Basin air pollution control officer Ted D. Schade said the DWP and his agency are making progress.

"For the longest time, Great Basin has had a hard time even having a rational discussion with the DWP," Schade said. "This discovery has opened up relations that are more fruitful.

"You don't come across massacre sites very often," he said.

During the period of early 1769 to 1823 when Spain ruled California, no more than a dozen Indians died at the hands of Europeans and the majority of them came due to minor uprisings against the soldiers. In that same period, only 2 Franciscan friars died and the Indians consistently did everything they could to protect those friars they considered to be their fathers.

In fact, Spanish explorers never entered the Owens Valley, de Anza only passing for to the south from the present-day Imperial Valley. And, there was only one brief expedition in the San Joaquin Valley on the far side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. However, some was known of the Paiutes as, on a number of occasions, they raided the cattle herds of Missions San Fernando and San Gabriel.

It was when Mexican gained its independence from Spain and turned California into a territory that problems with the Indians arose – almost all of those from Indians not part of the missions. During this time, more and more Americans entered the territory due to the excellent weather and arable land for farming and ranching. As the friars were removed from the missions and the Indians forced to seek work for ranchers who treated them like slaves, more and more Americans sought land, often buying it from corrupt government officials not entitled to sell it.

In the above article, it states “settlers and soldiers” battled with the Indians. They were Americans, not Spanish or Mexican. Another example of Manifest Destiny in which the ignorant savages had no rights to the land where they had lived from beyond memory and their death was of no matter at all.

Many California textbooks claim the demise of the California Indians to be due to the Franciscan friars and their Spanish overlords – totally false and another coverup of the truth of American Expansion. One of the few things of American history that truly saddens me.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mexican California

I've reached that point in California history when the new governor arrived to represent the United Mexican States, of which California is NOT one. California is divided into Upper and Lower, both but territories of the new nation. And yes, Upper California encompasses present day Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.


How on earth does Mexico deem it may control all that territory with less than 4 or 5 hundred soldiers, only about 140 in all of present day California?

One of the aims of the new government is to secularize the missions, turn them over to the Indians as was done in the states of Mexico. There, the Indians had more of an advanced culture and adapted to the organization needed to run an industry.

Unfortunately, that was not the case in the Californias. As hard as the friars tried, they could not overcome centuries of living off the land. It had only been 55 years since the arrival of Father Serra and the friars. Visitors frequently commented how the Indians were “ignorant, Lazy savages little removed from their stone-tipped arrows and spears.” They frequently praised the friars for their patience and devotion to “their children” whom they knew could not operate the missions on their own.

The new governor, Don Luis Antonio Echeandía issued a proclamation tell all those Indians who desired to leave the missions might do so. He included the provisions that they had been Christians from childhood or for 15 years, were married and not “minors” [I can't find what the definition of a minor was but marrying at 13 or 14 was not uncommon], and some means of gaining a livelihood.

The Indians wishing to leave must apply to the commandant of the nearest presidio with a report from the padre who would issue a written permit entitling the Indian [called neophyte] to go where they chose, their names to be erased from the mission roles.

Few of the Indians could take advantage of the proclamation – and wanted to do so – the few who did having no choice but to seek employment with one of the rancheros. Their lives were far from that at the missions and most fell into a state of semi-slavery.

Echeandía was not finished. Having moved the government from Monterey to San Diego, he called together all the commandants, alcaldes [mayors], and landed men as the territory diputacion. They came up with a plan to turn those missions closest to the four presidios into pueblos and the land belonging to the missions given to the Indians in equal shares. It was agreed to and the plan was forwarded to the general government in Mexico.

The friars knew what a disaster it would be and did their utmost to instill in the neophytes the skills and discipline they would need if such a plan was ever put into effect. This was in spite of the face the friars knew for certainty that their “children” would never be able to survive on their own.

This took place in the summer of 1826. How long until the unsettled government in Mexico could deal with it?


Hope to be back in a week or so with more.

Were the friars right? Or was the governor?