Six historic missions in six days

During my surfing-themed trip to some of southern and central California’s premier surf destinations, I also visited six historic California missions. In its colonial territories in North American, the Spanish colonial government and Catholic Church established 21 outposts throughout coastal and western California, starting first in San Diego and then all the way north to San Francisco.

I visited in order: San Juan Bautista, San Miguel Arcángel, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Carmel, and Santa Cruz missions. Collectively, the missions tell a story of the state’s transition from thousands of years of habitation by Native Americans, to conquest and ultimately cultural destruction at the hands of first Spain, then briefly Mexico, and finally the United States. Franciscan fathers converted thousands of Native Americans and their treatment overall was more humane than by the later American settlers and the U.S. government. Some historians, and even mainstream publications like Newsweek, have described California Natives’ collective historic experience, particularly during the era of U.S. control, as genocide because of the total collapse of Native culture and their demise, including to infectious diseases. Today there are 110 recognized tribes in the Golden State, and tribal rolls there count more than 700,000 people with Native ancestry.

Two of the missions I photographed, San Juan Bautista and San Miguel, both mentioned the graves of thousands of Indians who died in and around the missions during their long life span. Little evidence of their graves and these Native Americans’ role serving these missions is provided to tell their full story at colonial outposts that ultimately sought to assimilate and conquer the native people. Still, I love these places. They are a window on the past that is mostly forgotten. If you are in California, for holiday or if you live there, put them on your itinerary. You will be taken back in time.

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2 comments

  1. Forgotten Tribes of California

    MY NAME IS DANIEL AND I AM A MUTSUN FROM THE CALIFORNIA INDIAN TRIBES AND I HAVE A STORY TO TELL YOU A STORY THAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH DOES NOT WANT TOLD AS IT CONTRADICTS THE LIES THAT THEY HAVE TELLING FROM 1500S TO NOW AND NO THEY WERE NOT THE LAST THEY WERE JUST THE FIRST MANY WHO FOR SOME REASON DECIDED THEY WANTED TO WIPE US FROM THE WORLD OF MAN. SO MUCH OF OUR HISTORY HAS BEEN LOST WHAT LITTLE IS THERE IS IN THEIR WORDS AND NOT OUR OWN. THEY SAY THAT TIME HEALS ALL WOUNDS WELL THAT’S A LIE.THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS DONE LITTLE OR NOTHING TO HELP HEAL THE WOUNDS THAT THEY INFLICTED UPON US AND ALL OF THE OTHER TRIBES OF CALIFORNIA. WE WERE AND ARE THE CARETAKERS OF THE LAND AND SO WHEN WE FIRST MET WE DID NOT SEE THE DARKNESS AND THE GREED WITHIN THEIR HEARTS.TO THEN WE WERE A WHOLE RACE OF PEOPLE THAT THEY COULD CONVERT TO THEIR RELIGION AND SAVE OUR SOULS EVEN IF IT KILLED US [AND IT DID]. WE HELP THEM TO SURVIVE IN THIS NEW LAND THEY THOUGHT THEY DISCOVERED AND OUR YOUTH WERE IN INTRIGUED WITH THEIR WEAPONS SO THAT IS WHERE THEY STARTED TO DIVIDERS US THEN CAME THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN.WE HAD NO CONCEPT OF THEIR RELIGION. OR HOW IT WAS GOING TO CHANGE OUR LIVES. THEY KNEW BY CONVERTING US THEY WOULD HAVE MORE CONTROL OVER US THE WHIPPING THE BEATINGS AND RAPING OF ARE WOMEN AND CHILDREN WE’RE ALL PART OF THE CONVERTING US TO THEIR RELIGION. IT IS THE SAME TACTICS THEY’VE BEEN USING THROUGHOUT TIME IN THE NAME OF CHRISTIANITY. IN READING THE ACCOUNTS OF PEOPLE BACK THEN WHO WITNESSED THE INHUMANE TREATMENT OF MY PEOPLE I KNOW NOW HOW THE JEWS FELT IN THE DEATH CAMPS like you mini don’t have the slightest idea.but if you want to know the truth then read my blog

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  2. HI Daniel. Thanks for your comments.

    I hope you read my post as well. “Some historians, and even mainstream publications like Newsweek, have described California Natives’ collective historic experience, particularly during the era of U.S. control, as genocide because of the total collapse of Native culture and their demise, including to infectious diseases.” I also posted about the revolt at the San Diego Mission too. https://whatbeautifullight.com/2016/05/03/the-san-diego-mission-oldest-and-site-of-a-great-armed-revolt/. Thanks for visiting my site.
    Rudy

    Liked by 1 person

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