California mission clash of cultures

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Spanish missions in California

The California mission clash of cultures occurred at the Spanish Missions in California during the Spanish Las Californias-New Spain and Mexican Alta California eras of control, with lasting consequences after American statehood. The Missions were religious outposts established by Spanish Catholic Franciscans from 1769 to 1823 for the purpose of protecting Spain's territory by settlements and converting the Californian Native Americans to a Christian religion.

The Californias Region of North America

The Californias, occasionally known as the Three Californias or Two Californias, are a region of North America spanning the United States and Mexico and consisting of the U.S. state of California and the Mexican states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. Historically, the term "The Californias" was used to define the vast northwestern region of Spanish America, as the Province of the Californias, and later as a collective term for Alta California and the Baja California Peninsula.

New Spain kingdom of the Spanish Empire (1535-1821)

The Viceroyalty of New Spain was an integral territorial entity of the Spanish Empire, established by Habsburg Spain during the Spanish colonization of the Americas. It covered a huge area that included territories in North America, South America, Asia and Oceania. It originated in 1521 after the fall of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the main event of the Spanish conquest, which did not properly end until much later, as its territory continued to grow to the north. It was officially created on 8 March 1535 as a Kingdom, the first of four viceroyalties Spain created in the Americas. Its first viceroy was Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, and the capital of the kingdom was Mexico City, established on the ancient Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

Alta California province of New Spain

Alta California, known sometimes unofficially as Nueva California, California Septentrional, California del Norte or California Superior, began in 1804 as a province of New Spain. Along with the Baja California peninsula, it had previously comprised the province of Las Californias, but was split off into a separate province in 1804. Following the Mexican War of Independence, it became a territory of Mexico in April 1822 and was renamed "Alta California" in 1824. The claimed territory included all of the modern US states of California, Nevada and Utah, and parts of Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

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The Spanish occupation of California brought some negative consequences to the Native American cultures and populations, both those the missionaries were in contact with and others that were traditional trading partners. These aspects have received more research in recent decades.

Spanish era history

One of the tasks assigned to early Spanish explorers of California was to report on the native peoples found there. The Portolá expedition of 1769-70 was the first European land exploration, reaching as far north as San Francisco Bay. Several members of the expedition kept diaries that, among other things, described interactions with and observations about the natives. The most detailed of these diaries was by Franciscan missionary Juan Crespí. A report written later by Pedro Fages, one of the expedition's military officers, was also influential. [1]

Portolá expedition exploration of the present-day state of California, United States, 1769–1770

The Portolá expedition was a Spanish voyage of exploration in 1769–1770 that was the first recorded European land entry and exploration of the interior of the present-day U.S. state of California. It was led by Gaspar de Portolá, governor of Las Californias, the Spanish colonial province that included California, Baja California, and other parts of present-day Mexico and the United States. The expedition led to the founding of Alta California and contributed to the solidification of Spanish territorial claims in the disputed and unexplored regions along the Pacific coast of North America.

San Francisco Bay bay on the California coast of the United States

San Francisco Bay is a shallow estuary in the US state of California. It is surrounded by a contiguous region known as the San Francisco Bay Area, and is dominated by the large cities of San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland.

Pedro Fages was a Spanish soldier, explorer, first Lieutenant Governor of the Californias under Gaspar de Portolá, and second (1770–74) and fifth (1782–91) Governor of Alta California.

Georg von Langsdorff, early visitor to California, sketched a group of Ohlone-Costeno dancers at Mission San Jose in 1806. "The hair of these people is very coarse, thick, and stands erect; in some it is powdered with down feathers," Langsdorff noted. "Their bodies are fantastically painted with charcoal dust, red clay, and chalk. The foremost dancer is ornamented all over with down feathers, which gives him a monkey-like appearance; the hindermost has had the whimsical idea of painting his body to imitate the uniform of a Spanish soldier, with his boots, stockings, breeches, and upper garments." Mission San Jose natives.jpg
Georg von Langsdorff, early visitor to California, sketched a group of Ohlone-Costeño dancers at Mission San José in 1806. "The hair of these people is very coarse, thick, and stands erect; in some it is powdered with down feathers," Langsdorff noted. "Their bodies are fantastically painted with charcoal dust, red clay, and chalk. The foremost dancer is ornamented all over with down feathers, which gives him a monkey-like appearance; the hindermost has had the whimsical idea of painting his body to imitate the uniform of a Spanish soldier, with his boots, stockings, breeches, and upper garments." 

Before the padres could abandon their interim missions and begin work on more permanent structures, they had to first attract and convert a sufficiently large number of local Indians, who would comprise the major portion of their work force. The priests offered beads, clothing, blankets, even food to the "heathens" to attract them to the prospects of mission life and convince them to move into the mission compound or a nearby village. Each Indian was expected to contribute a certain number of hours' labor each week towards making adobes or roof tiles, working on construction crews, performing some type of handicraft, or farming. Women wove cloth, prepared meals, washed clothes, and were generally responsible for whatever domestic chores arose at the mission.

Handicraft work where useful and decorative objects are made completely by hand or by using only simple tools

A handicraft, sometimes more precisely expressed as artisanal handicraft or handmade, is any of a wide variety of types of work where useful and decorative objects are made completely by hand or by using only simple tools. It is a traditional main sector of craft, and applies to a wide range of creative and design activities that are related to making things with one's hands and skill, including work with textiles, moldable and rigid materials, paper, plant fibers, etc. One of the world's oldest handicraft is Dhokra; this is a sort of metal casting that has been used in India for over 4,000 years and is still used. Usually the term is applied to traditional techniques of creating items that are both practical and aesthetic.Handicraft industries are those that produces things with hands to meet the needs of the people in their locality.Machines are not used.

The hierarchy of power in missions was a major cause of culture clash between Franciscan missionaries and Native Americans. Missionaries delineated authority to Native American officials who often held power within their own tribes, but this authority clashed with their own cultural values. While social organization in precontact California is scarcely recorded, but a ruling elite presided over commoners and an underclass, determined by lineage and cultural inheritance. Conversely, mission power structure was determined by elections, eliminating traditional Native American social hierarchy and replacing it with a system heavily monitored and often controlled by Franciscans. [3]

Native American officials were often tasked with keeping the peace between missionaries and Native American inhabitants, leading to increased friction between officials and their unelected counterparts. [3] Regarding the duty of officials, Junípero Serra wrote in a letter to his trusted subordinate Fermín Lasuén: "Ask him to carry out this function so that, without failing in the slightest degree in his duty toward his superior officer, the Indians may not be given a less exalted opinion of the fathers than they have had until now." [4]

Junípero Serra Christian missionary

Saint Junípero Serra y Ferrer, O.F.M., was a Roman Catholic Spanish priest and friar of the Franciscan Order who founded a mission in Baja California and the first nine of 21 Spanish missions in California from San Diego to San Francisco, in what was then Alta California in the Province of Las Californias, New Spain. Serra was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988, in the Vatican City. Pope Francis canonised him on September 23, 2015, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., during his first visit to the United States. His missionary efforts earned him the title of Apostle of California.

Fermín Lasuén Spanish Basque missionary to Alta California

Fermín de Francisco Lasuén de Arasqueta was a Basque Franciscan missionary to Alta California president of the Franciscan missions there, and founder of nine of the twenty-one Spanish missions in California.

In 1811, the Spanish Viceroy in Mexico sent an interrogatorio (questionnaire) to all missions in Alta California regarding the customs, disposition, and condition of the Mission Indians. [5] The replies, which varied greatly in length, spirit, and even value of information, were collected and prefaced by the Father-Presidente with a short general statement or abstract. He sent the compilation to the viceregal government. [6] The contemporary nature of the responses, no matter how incomplete or biased some may be, are nonetheless of considerable value to modern ethnologists. The Indians also spent much of their days learning the Christian faith, and attended worship services several times a day (Fray Gerónimo Boscana, a Franciscan scholar who was stationed at Mission San Juan Capistrano for more than a decade beginning in 1812, compiled what is widely considered to be the most comprehensive study of prehistoric religious practices in the San Juan Capistrano valley). [7]

Ethnology social science that deals with ethnicities

Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the characteristics of different peoples and the relationships between them.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano is a former Spanish mission in colonial Las Californias. It is located in present-day San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, southern California.

Mexican era history

When Spain lost control of Las Californias and all of New Spain, due to the Mexican War for Independence succeeding, it left primarily Spanish Franciscan missionaries, suspect to the new Mexican government, managing the mission building complexes in the new Alta California. Mexican secularization act of 1833 ended the mission system. Much of the prime agricultural lands had Californios with Spanish land grants who remained, who tended to utilize the Indian peoples as a form of enslaved labor. The Mexican land grant period formed many more ranchos in California from mission and Native American lands.

Pablo Tac, who lived at Mission San Luis Rey in the 1820s and 1830s, penned this drawing depicting two young men wearing skirts of twine and feathers with feather decorations on their heads, rattles in their hands, and (perhaps) painted decorations on their bodies. Luiseno drawing early 1800s.jpg
Pablo Tac, who lived at Mission San Luis Rey in the 1820s and 1830s, penned this drawing depicting two young men wearing skirts of twine and feathers with feather decorations on their heads, rattles in their hands, and (perhaps) painted decorations on their bodies.

Contemporary research

In recent years, much debate has arisen as to the actual treatment of the Indians during the Mission Period, and Native American scholars claim that the California Mission system is directly responsible for the decline of the Native American populations. [9] For many years, it was commonly taught that the Indians enjoyed their new lives, and that many were able to sustain themselves after the fall of the mission system by utilizing the skills they had acquired at the missions. The Indians were purportedly often granted leave to visit their villages and participated in many ceremonies and celebrations throughout the year at the urging of their benefactors. Modern anthropologists cite a cultural bias on the part of the missionaries that blinded them to the natives' plight and caused them to develop strong negative opinions of the Californian Native Americans. [10]

Evidence has now been brought to light that puts the Californian Native Americans' experiences in a very different context. [11] For instance, women were quartered separately from the men, regardless of marital status. In addition, Native American cultural and spiritual beliefs about marriage, love, and sex were routinely disrespected or punished. [9] Once an Indian agreed to become part of the mission community, he or she was forbidden to leave it without a padre's permission, and from then on led a fairly regimented life learning "civilized" ways from the Spaniards. Indians were often subjected to corporal punishment and other discipline as determined by the padres. [12]

The canonization of Junípero Serra continues to spark contemporary debate regarding the treatment of Native Americans at the hands of Franciscan missionaries. In reaction to Pope Francis's announcement that he would canonize Serra in January 2015 was, a statue of Christ in a cemetery at Mission San Gabriel in Los Angeles was toppled, and a MoveOn petition to "enlighten" the pope regarding “the deception, exploitation, oppression, enslavement, and genocide” of Native Americans received over 10,000 signatures. [13]

Population

The pre-contact population of California (225,000) had been reduced by 33 percent during Spanish and Mexican rule, but that was caused mostly by epidemics. Under American rule (from 1848 on), when most of the twenty-one missions were in ruins, the loss of indigenous lives was catastrophic—80 percent died, leaving just 30,000 in 1870. And nearly half of those losses were due not to disease, but to murder. [13] Baja California experienced a similar reduction in native population resulting from Spanish colonization efforts there. [14] [15]

See also

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References

Many native cultures built cone-shaped huts (wikiups) made of willow branches covered with brush or mats made of tule leaves. The shelters were utilized primarily for sleeping or as refuge in cases of inclement weather. Europeans generally regarded such contrivances as "...evidence of the Indians' inability to fashion more sophisticated structures." Wikiup.jpg
Many native cultures built cone-shaped huts ( wikiups ) made of willow branches covered with brush or mats made of tule leaves. The shelters were utilized primarily for sleeping or as refuge in cases of inclement weather. Europeans generally regarded such contrivances as "...evidence of the Indians' inability to fashion more sophisticated structures." 

Notes

An illustration depicts the brutal death of Father Luis Jayme by the hands of angry natives at Mission San Diego de Alcala, November 4, 1775. The uprising was the first of a dozen similar incidents that took place in Alta California during the Mission Period; however, most rebellions tended to be localized and short-lived due to the Spaniards' superior weaponry (native resistance more often took the form of non-cooperation, desertion, and raids on mission livestock). Death of Father Jayme.jpg
An illustration depicts the brutal death of Father Luís Jayme by the hands of angry natives at Mission San Diego de Alcalá, November 4, 1775. The uprising was the first of a dozen similar incidents that took place in Alta California during the Mission Period; however, most rebellions tended to be localized and short-lived due to the Spaniards' superior weaponry (native resistance more often took the form of non-cooperation, desertion, and raids on mission livestock).
The first recorded baptisms in Alta California were performed on July 22, 1769 in "The Canyon of the Little Christians" in what today is southern Orange County. Canyon of the Little Christians.jpg
The first recorded baptisms in Alta California were performed on July 22, 1769 in "The Canyon of the Little Christians" in what today is southern Orange County.
  1. A historical, political, and natural description of California , by Pedro Fages and Herbert Ingram Priestley (1937). Berkeley: University of California Press.
  2. Paddison, p. 130
  3. 1 2 Hackel, Steven W. (1997). "The Staff of Leadership: Indian Authority in the Missions of Alta California". The William and Mary Quarterly. 54 (2): 347–376. doi:10.2307/2953277. ISSN   0043-5597. JSTOR   2953277.
  4. Serra, Junípero (1984). A letter of Junipero Serra to the reverend father preacher Fray Fermin Francisco de Lasuen : a bicentennial discovery. Press in Hugus Alley. OCLC   12667337.
  5. Kroeber, p. 1
  6. Kroeber, p. 2: "Some of the missionaries evidently regarded compliance with the instructions of the questionnaire as an official requirement which was perfunctorily performed. In many cases no answers were given various questions at certain of the missions."
  7. Rawls, p. 26: Boscana deduced that the "Indians of California may be compared to a species of monkey" and described the native beliefs and customs as "horrible," "ludicrous," and "ridiculous."
  8. Kelsey, p. 4
  9. 1 2 McCormack, Brian T. “Conjugal Violence, Sex, Sin, and Murder in the Mission Communities of Alta California.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 16, no. 3 (December 4, 2007): 391–415. doi:10.1353/sex.2007.0070.
  10. McKanna, p. 15; also, per Hittell, p. 753: "Boscana himself and his brother missionaries were men of narrow range of thought, continually seeking among the superstitions of the natives for resemblances of the true faith and ever ready to catch at the slightest hints and magnify them into complicated dogmas corresponding afar of those they themselves taught."
  11. Lippy, p. 47: "A matter of debate in reflecting on the role of Spanish missions concerns the degree to which the Spanish colonial regimes regarded the work of the priests as a legitimate religious enterprise and the degree to which it was viewed as a 'frontier institution,' part of a colonial defense program. That is, were Spanish motives based on a desire to promote conversion or on a desire to have religious missions serve as a buffer to protect the main colonial settlements and an aid in controlling the Indians?"
  12. Recovering History, Constructing Race: The Indian, Black, and White Roots of Mexican Americans; (Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture); Martha Menchaca; University of Texas Press, 2001; Pgs 138-147
  13. 1 2 Orfalea, Gregory. "Hungry for Souls: Was Junípero Serra a Saint?". Commonweal. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  14. Rawls, p. 6: Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have been based on a number of different sources, and therefore vary substantially; see Population of Native California.
  15. Cook, p. 200: When assessing the relative importance of the various sources of the native population decline in California, including Old World epidemic diseases, violence, nutritional changes, and cultural shock, it is clear that declines tended to be steepest in the areas directly affected by the missions and the Gold Rush. "The first (factor) was the food supply...The second factor was disease...A third factor, which strongly intensified the effect of the other two, was the social and physical disruption visited upon the Indian. He was driven from his home by the thousands, starved, beaten, raped, and murdered with impunity. He was not only given no assistance in the struggle against foreign diseases, but was prevented from adopting even the most elementary measures to secure his food, clothing, and shelter. The utter devastation caused by the white man was literally incredible, and not until the population figures are examined does the extent of the havoc become evident."
  16. Rawls, p. 29: In the late 1780s, French naval officer and explorer Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse described the native dwellings in and around Monterey—consisting of long poles stuck in the ground and drawn together to form arches, then covered with thatch—as "...the most miserable that are to be met with among any people."
  17. Ruscin, p. 12
  18. Paddison, p. 48
  19. Engelhardt 1922, p. 12: Not all of the native cultures responded with hostility to the Spaniards' presence; Engelhardt portrayed the natives at Mission San Juan Capistrano (dubbed the " Juaneño " by the missionaries), where there was never any instance of unrest, as being "uncommonly friendly and docile." Father Juan Crespí, who accompanied 1769 expedition, described the first encounter with the area's inhabitants: "They came unarmed and with a gentleness which has no name they brought their poor seeds to us as gifts...The locality itself and the docility of the Indians invited the establishment of a Mission for them."
  20. Engelhardt, p. 258