Saints and Citizens is a bold new excavation of the history of Indigenous people in California in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, showing how the missions became sites of their authority, memory, and identity. Shining a forensic eye on colonial encounters in Chumash, Luiseño, and Yokuts territories, Lisbeth Haas depicts how native painters incorporated their cultural iconography in mission painting and how leaders harnessed new knowledge for control in other ways. Through her portrayal of highly varied societies, she explores the politics of Indigenous citizenship in the independent Mexican nation through events such as the Chumash War of 1824, native emancipation after 1826, and the political pursuit of Indigenous rights and land through 1848.
Saints and Citizens Indigenous Histories of Colonial Missions and Mexican California
Colonial Settlements on Indigenous Land
This chapter examines the processes of colonization in Chumash and Luiseño territories and identifies the relationships that Yokuts villages established with particular missions, even as they remained independent of colonial control. Not withstanding the specific history of each Indigenous territory, a colonial geography emerged that encompassed many independent tribes. Referring to the many who fled the missions, and to the independent native societies that stole and rode the horses, the missionaries spoke of cimarrons and an Apachería. These colonial geographies associated California with the Antilles and elsewhere in northern Mexico, respectively.
The missions formed part of a long-established colonial order. At the same time, they constituted very specific places. Sites where Indigenous people built communities in which deep ancestral ties and shared cultural, geographical, and epistemological understandings still gave relevance to their lives.
The most recent explanation for how colonization developed in California rests on the idea that colonial settlement initiated changes that ultimately affected all aspects of native society and eventually propelled people into the missions nearest their land. That pattern is important to consider because it offers a general idea of the processes behind the fairly rapid settlement of California's coast. In the 1770s alone, the Spanish founded three presidios (forts), eight missions, and one pueblo (town). They placed the presidios at San Diego in 1769, Monterey in 1770, and San Francisco in 1776. Spanish soldiers protected the missionaries who founded eight missions, including the Missions of San Diego in 1769, San Carlos Borromeo and San Antonio in 1770, San Gabriel in 1771, San Luis Obispo in 1772, San Juan Capistrano in 1775 and again in 1776, and Mission Dolores in 1776. In 1777, the Spanish also established the first pueblo of California in San Jose. Nearby, they founded Mission Santa Clara that same year.
The Spanish military carefully strategized the site and pace of settlement according to their understanding of Indigenous populations and their appraisal of the potential for armed resistance. They selected sites with viable water, abundant land for fields, orchards, and pasturage, and other available resources. Sometimes they negotiated with the leaders of the territories on which they settled; at other times, they simply selected the site and built the mission.
For California Indians, the occupation of a single tribal territory by a mission, fort, or town undermined the political order that divided the land into specific areas for the cultivation of seeds, bulbs, nut groves, and other plant life. It disrupted economies governed by indigenous thought, environmental practices, and seasonal change. Seeds, in particular, formed crucial daily sustenance because they could be ground into flour and stored for later use. This required the cultivation of fields through burning, selective weeding, and other practices. The ordering of the landscape sustained economic life and the power and privileges of elites who governed each territory.Indigenous political life rested on this production of wealth through acknowledged possession of land, oak groves, hunting sites, and other resource areas. Wealth in goods to gift and exchange fostered ceremonial activities and trade between tribes.
The Spanish economy undermined this political ordering of native society. When the missions and presidios took possession of even a small portion of an Indigenous territory for buildings, and to create fields and orchards, foreign seeds and weeds easily invaded the habitats and compromised sections of the coastal valleys and western mountain ranges. The livestock they brought grew rapidly into immense herds that threatened to destroy seed fields, streambeds, and local trees. These changes began nearest the mission first, but eventually they consumed village territories at greater and greater distances away. New diseases became endemic and defied traditional means of healing, thus producing tremendous losses in each family and village community.
Tribes divided over what to do: some people joined the missions, others refused to do so for one or more generations, and some found refuge in territories where they had connections through family relations. Children, widowed persons, couples, and families from the areas nearest the missions entered first due to their greater vulnerability. Converts built the aqueducts and irrigation canals that brought water to the missions, fields, and orchards. They helped tend the livestock that found pasturage on the important seed fields that had produced so much of the native diet. The sheep and cattle gnawed at native trees like the oak and threatened the areas where they roamed. To expand and enhance their pasturage, the missionaries prohibited the burning of seed fields, eroding the management of traditional Indigenous crops. Soldiers severely punished Indigenous people caught stealing or eating livestock.
Native exchange and ritual networks began to shift under this duress as particular goods became scarce in some areas or a ritual leader or member of a family key to a particular ceremony became ill or died. These changes sometimes began long before people in a given territory had even affiliated with a mission. Initiated through contact with expeditions, the missions, and villagers who returned home from the missions to visit for the duration of their pass.
As a majority of people from any single village joined a mission, the tribe effectively lost rights over their discrete territories, although technically they retained those rights under the Laws of the Indies, the body of laws that defined imperial policy in the Americas. This political defeat of coastal societies from San Diego northward to Sonoma occurred in fewer than sixty years after the Spanish arrived. It was a period when the densely inhabited and linguistically diverse ancient societies along California's coast experienced devastation.
Randall Millikin identifies this process of multiple changes as one that produced a "time of little choice." His history of the encounter rests on "Spanish actions" and "Tribal actions" through a succession of encounters, mutual accommodation, and the social transformation of tribal life in the San Francisco Bay Area. Steven Hackel identified a similar pattern of environmental destruction that brought Ohlone people into Mission San Carlos. Hackel characterized the process as a "dual revolution" led by the destruction of the environment and the biological devastation of indigenous populations by European diseases. For Hackel these two factors structured the encounter in Monterey, California. Once inside the missions, the prevalence of illness brought the further decline of Indigenous populations. John Johnson found a similar pattern among the Chumash people, whereby the villages nearest to the mission experienced the devastation first and those at greater distances followed suit. His model is important for Chumash history.
In 1781 an expedition of settlers and soldiers arrived in California after marching north through the Yuma passing, prepared to found Los Angeles in Tongva territory, and to settle the presidio of Santa Barbara in Chumash territory. After they left the crossing in their movement northward, Quechan and Mojave warriors descended on the town of La Concepción and the remaining soldiers in the encampment of Rivera y Moncada. They killed 105 Spanish settlers and took 76 people, mainly women and children, into captivity. The captives and raided goods substantially enriched the Quechan nation "with slaves, horses, cattle, and firearms."The war closed the overland route to California until after 1821. It meant, in effect, that comparatively few would settle after 1781.
The Spanish perceived Chumash territory to be too well guarded and populous to settle without military reinforcement, and waited for Rivera y Moncada expedition before they founded the Presidio of Santa Barbara in the most populous center, on the mainland off the Channel Islands. Over a decade earlier, in 1772, they had founded Mission San Luis Obispo in northern Chumash territory, but that remained quite distant from the center. With the arrival of the expedition, they began what the Spanish would view as the conquest of Chumash people.
About 15,000 Chumash lived on the mainland and on the Channel Islands off the coast by the time of Spanish settlement, and it seems the population had already experienced illness and loss after first contact began in 1769. Although densely inhabited as a region, the autonomous polities ranged in size from as few as fifty persons to more than five hundred, and sometimes more than a thousand persons. They identified with, and usually called themselves by, the name of their autonomous territories and villages.
By 1782, the Spanish had reached an agreement with Yanonali, the most powerful leader in the vicinity of Santa Barbara. He governed the town of Syuxtun, which held a prime position on the mainland coast to dominate the bead trade that linked the Channel Islands and inland Chumash communities. Syuxtun and Mikiw (Dos Pueblos) formed the two largest Chumash coastal towns, and both played important roles in the interregional trading system.By contracting Chumash workers, the military began to build the Presidio of Santa Barbara in Yanonali's territory. According to the agreement, Yanonali would remain the autonomous leader of his town, and he and his people would not have to become Christians. They would work for the presidio in return for trade items.
Governor Neve established strict guidelines, so that the missionaries would not turn the populations of this densely settled area against the presidio and planned missions. He prohibited soldiers from entering native towns except when offering protection to a missionary. Sergeants and corporals required a special order to go into the towns. Neve also hoped to implement a vision of settlement that avoided the redución of the population into missions. His plan called for native people to remain in their own towns and villages after baptism. He wanted the missions that were being planned for the Chumash people to be religious sites. He wanted to avoid relocation and the building of farms, ranchos, and industries that other missions had developed. He anticipated that Chumash people would both continue to engage in their traditional economy and begin to work for the Spanish centered in and around the presidio.
The agreement with Yanonali gave him access to new sources of wealth in trade goods. Similar agreements with other Chumash leaders began to affect the extensive exchange network that had fostered specialization in the pre-Columbian Chumash economy. Control of the bead trade had given rise to the chieftainship system centuries earlier. The political elite brokered these exchange relations among Chumash towns. They "fortified connections between politically autonomous territories and towns through feasts, ceremonies, and celebrations and the creation of federations during particular periods." Gaining support of their leaders was crucial to Spanish colonization. At the same time, that elite confronted a new economy and set of circumstances that began to shift their regional power.
The ability to augment the wealth of leaders and villages remained key to Spanish policy. Chiefly wealth among the Chumash had involved the possession of beads and of the oceangoing canoes or tomols. The missions became part of the regional economy and technologies with their use of canoes and bead money. As late as the mid-nineteenth century one Chumash chief "supported elderly individuals who made bead money for him." The Mission of San Buenaventura negotiated with Gele, a chief of a Santa Rosa Island village of Qshiwqshiw, to purchase two tomols for the mission. The mission used the canoes to trade with the islands and to fish and hunt sea mammals.
Beads produced on the islands and sent to the mainland remained the source of currency even into the mission era, but European beads also augmented the wealth of towns and individuals who received them as gifts to forge alliances, and for their work at the presidio. During the first decade, the Presidio of Santa Barbara placed orders with their supply ships for an ever-growing number of beads, with increasingly specific requests as to their size and color. They also ordered enormous amounts of needles and pita floss from the maguey plant, which provided new technologies for stringing beads.
Trade goods such as beads, string, and needles entered the local economy during a period when the missionaries and soldiers founded the Missions of Santa Barbara on December 4, 1786, and La Purisima on December 8, 1787. In contrast to the initial decision to settle the area but retain indigenous village structures alongside modified mission sites and the military fort, the government again instituted reducíon to physically remove the Chumash population from their ancestral sites.
It seemed especially difficult to reduce some of the coastal populations to Mission La Purisima, especially because many villages nearby "could still secure their subsistence eating fish," Governor Borica lamented in 1796. He made a survey of Chumash settlements along the coast, named their leaders, and estimated the size of their populations. Emphasizing their strong identity with their towns, he noted that each group named itself after its place of origin. These villagers had resisted being reduced to the mission because of the supply of fish, he argued. Yet he had no doubt about the eventuality. He identified which mission each village would ultimately be reduced to on his 1796 map. Two years later military commander Goycoachea reconfirmed people's identity with their towns and surrounding territory. He suggested that if they could "continue to live in their own towns," they would more easily become Christians." But by 1798, villagers from other parts had begun to affiliate to Missions San Buenaventura, Santa Barbara, and La Purisima. Their populations included 766, 796, and 915 persons, respectively. (See appendix.)
Borica's allusion to the importance of fish for coastal villages suggests the strains on the local economy and populations. By the late 1790s, it had become difficult to live in those towns. Since 1794, in the areas most heavily used by the Presidio and the Mission of Santa Barbara, which included territories well beyond the coast, the seeds that Chumash people processed as a staple element of their diet had become scarce. By 1800, the region did not produce any seeds.
The absence of seeds had been especially pronounced because of a drought during the mid-1790s and the large number of livestock owned by the presidio and by the mission. By 1800, the presidio's ranches had more than 1,000 cattle, sheep, goats, cows, horses, and rams. The Mission of Santa Barbara similarly had 1,807 livestock at pasture by that date. Textile workers in the mission and presidio workshops transformed sheep's wool into blankets for fresadas or blanket-like cloaks. Native workers at the missions also raised 2,885 bushels of wheat, barley, corn, beans, and vegetables.
Many argue that migration into the missions enabled people to survive as traditional foods became more difficult to find and disease proliferated. In 1797, Yanonali received baptism with the stipulation that his people would remain in their village of Syuxtun after their conversions. But within a few years, his village had relocated to Mission Santa Barbara. Indeed, during the decade after 1797, waves of Chumash people entered the missions. The Chumash missions would grow to have their largest populations in the first decade of the nineteenth century.
Autonomous Regions in the Chumash Interior
The continuous movement of people back and forth between the missions and their villages of origin spread the influence of the mission well beyond the areas in the immediate vicinity. This created another way that themissions' diseases, goods, and ideas spread to autonomous territories. The missionaries at Santa Barbara reported in 1800 that one-fifth of their total population would commonly be away from the mission with a one-week or two-week pass, depending on how far away their territories remained. Every Sunday after mass at the door of the presidio, the missionaries or an Indian official read the names of the neophytes allowed to leave, putting their names in a book. No one got a pass during the wheat harvest, but at its conclusion, the missionaries gave all of those who worked in the harvest a two-week pass. If people did not return to the mission when their passes expired, other Indians were sent after them to bring them back. Runaways or delinquents were whipped, although the missionaries offered certain indulgences depending on the circumstances. The possibility of violent reprisal always existed.
This reducíon had affected the town of Soxtonokmu', a day's walk from Santa Barbara. By 1798, nearly a fifth of the village had already affiliated to either Mission La Purisima or Santa Barbara. Only 168 people remained in the village at that point. Soxtonokmu' constituted one of the largest villages in the northern interior of Chumash territory, and it had extensive trade and marriage ties to coastal and island villages. Some people may have followed their relatives from other villages into the missions. Soxtonokmu' was located at the foot of the mountains, near where Mission La Purisima obtained pine wood. The town had integrated glass trade beads, metal objects, and mission pottery into its life ways during this extended period (1772-98) of contact and exchange with the missions. Earlier, in 1794, Indigenous Christians and non-Christians were invited to plan a war against Mission San Luis Obispo to the north, and four of the people from Soxtonokmu' had been incarcerated for "training to fight with soldiers."
On a visit to the village in 1798, Sergeant Cota asked the leader if he and his people would become Christians. The chief remained noncommittal and said he would speak to the commander of the presidio. This exploratory expedition to the interior took place on October 17 to 20, 1798, to further define the interior village territories with the intention of forging a new mission therein. Fray Tapis of Mission Santa Barbara, and a group of soldiers identified thirteen independent territories. He took a count of the houses. The largest towns of Soxtonokmu' and Kalawasak (Calahuasa in Spanish) had fifty and thirty houses, respectively. The majority of territories had villages with around twenty houses. When the missionaries passed by Kalawasak they found a number of the inhabitants to be gone, some attending the Fiesta de Saspili and others in the mountains picking yslay (wild cherry). The political and economic life of these villages persisted together with the new material culture that villages like Soxtonokmu' engaged in. Just as the population of Soxtonokmu' already had relatives in the missions, some people from all of the villages in this region had left to join coastal missions.
The missionaries located a spot for the mission near the town of Alaxulapu (also Lajulapu and Alajulapu). Alaxulapu had land to grow sufficient quantities of wheat and corn; trees for wood; excellent access to water; good stones for building; brown clay for tiles; and ample pastureland for livestock. Though Fray Tápis decided where to place the mission in 1798, the Spanish did not begin to build it until 1804. In the intervening six years, the three coastal missions grew to their largest sizes.
By1802, more than 60 percent of the coastal and interior Chumash had abandoned their traditional villages and lived in the missions. In 1803 alone, more than 1,000 people joined one of the three coastal missions, abandoning still more villages. By1803, Mission Santa Barbara reached its largest size with 1,792 people. One year later, in 1804, La Purisima reached its population height of 1,520 people. The pattern identified previously-whereby the villages closest to the missions tended to be the first to be abandoned-could be found in Chumash territory. When two missionaries and a few hundred native people returned to the site to build Santa Ines, many of those Christian Chumash had recently entered a mission in the wave of affiliations that took place in preceding three years.
Mission Santa Ines
The founding of the Mission Santa Ines on September 17, 1804, relied on 112 Chumash people born in villages in the vicinity of the mission site who had earlier affiliated to Santa Barbara and 113 affiliated to Mission La Purisima. This large core of 225 people acted as interpreters, laborers, and godparents. They had placed the act of faith and the prayer for receiving the Viaticum, a ritual that often accompanied the Eucharist at death, in the Indian language of Santa Ines by its founding. The very formation of the mission at Santa Ines offers an example of how traditional leaders and others gave meaning to a translated Christianity, and offered, through many means, sustenance to their tribal and mission communities.
Fray Tapis initially called it "the Mission of Alaajulapu," acknowledging the native territory on which it settled. He accepted three chiefs of the nearby villages of Kalawasak, Soctonokmu', and Hawamiw (Ahuama) as the first to join. They "clothed themselves and were enlisted for catechetical instruction." Five children from Hawamiw also received baptism, as did three from Kalawasak and four from three other villages. Raymundo Carrillo, from the Presidio of Santa Barbara, served as their godparent.
The first girl to receive the name of Ines, the patron saint of the mission, was baptized at the age of six. Born at Soxtonokmu', her father was one of the Chumash who came back to the region from Mission La Purisima to help establish the mission. Her mother had not yet affiliated with the missions. Francisca, wife of the retired Sergeant José Maria Ortega of Rancho del Refugio, one of the few ranches then granted to retired military personnel in the region, acted as the madrina or godmother of these first fifteen girls. In the ensuing weeks and months, parents brought their children in from the surrounding villages. Baptized and renamed, they returned to the villages until their parents also affiliated. At the age of nine, considered adulthood, the missionaries removed them from their families to live in dormitories thereafter until their marriages.
The godparents assumed responsibility for the Catholic education and the spiritual and physical well-being of these new Christians, and almost immediately, the vast majority of godparents came from the Chumash population. These relationships created a strong bond in the new context that was often built on former relationships. They created a Christianity conveyed through indigenous sponsors, commonly relatives of those baptized. The selection of Chumash godparents began within weeks of the founding. On September 24, 1804, a three-year-old girl would be baptized by her godmother Ana Victoria, who was married to Clemente, who had returned to the region from La Purisima. For the next nine children baptized that day, Alhanasco, described as married to Catalina, assumed the position of godfather to the boys, and Catalina acted as the godmother of the girls. On October 4, 1804, a recently born baby received the name Miguel at baptism. He was the son of Cesario Sulucumairet and Cristina; both had initially affiliated to Mission Santa Barbara. A man named Maria Momoguis, previously from Santa Barbara, acted as their child's godparent.
Similarly, on November 22, 1804, Alonso Huasuucahuayol and Benita, who had returned to the region from Santa Barbara, baptized their child María Gertrudis. The godmother was Ana, wife of Augustín Matiamahuilaus, both of whom had also returned to this region from Mission Santa Barbara. Of the thirty-two adults baptized in early to mid-December, Alonso, "married to Benita," served as godfather to the men, and Ana, "wife of Augustín," as godmother to the women. Both had relocated to Santa Ines from Mission Santa Barbara.
By December 16, 1804, adult relatives of Chumash people who had returned from Santa Barbara and La Purisima were receiving Catholic instruction as wives, mothers, daughters, and fathers joined their relatives at the mission. Two relatives of Antonio de Padua, from Santa Barbara, joined the mission from the village of Kalawasak. On December 28, 1804, the thirty-five-year-old captain of Silihuasiol, father of Luisa, was baptized as Nicolas.
Within the first four months, 112 people from this region became baptized, and most of their godparents were from their villages, even family members, and recent affiliates themselves. During 1805 and 1806, fifty-two more people returned to live at Mission Santa Ines from Missions Santa Barbara and La Purisima and reinforced this pattern. They too had come from the region. They returned at a time of mass baptism, when another 259 people joined from the surrounding territories. An 1806 measles epidemic that spread throughout California cut into those numbers. Between 1806 and 1808, the number of people baptized at Santa Ines nearly equaled the number who died: the missionary baptized seventy-two and buried sixty-eight people.
Within a few years of the mission's founding, people recently baptized at Santa Ines started acting as the godparents of new affiliates. They passed on a religion that their Indigenous godparents from the older missions had taught them. By 1810, the mission experienced its peak year of growth, when one hundred people affiliated from the surrounding towns and villages. Santa Ines reached its largest size of 628 people.
After 1810, older people who had refused to join the mission started affiliating. They seem to have come only when they could no longer sustain themselves in villages that most of the young had left. Between 1810 and 1811 those baptized tended to be between forty and eighty years of age, and some came to the mission in their nineties. Sometimes their own children acted as their godparents, as in the case of a man from Kalawasak whose son had been baptized much earlier at Mission Santa Barbara. Until around 1814, a handful of younger adults who had remained in their villages, or came in from more distant villages in the mountains to the east, continued to be baptized each year.
Until 1815, the mission population at Santa Ines came from the region around the mission and included older and newer Christians who sponsored their relatives and tribal members. Thereafter, the mission experienced an important migration from island communities that had survived more than thirty years, as the mainland Chumash with whom they had strong and steady economic relations became incorporated into the missions. The missions began expeditions to the islands in 1815, and people, primarily from Wima or Santa Rose Island, began to affiliate to Mission Santa Ines. The majority of the islanders migrated to Santa Ines in 1815 and 1816, which increased Santa Ines's population to its largest size of 768 people in 1816. This diversifying of the origins of the mission population took place during a time marked by a tragically high number of deaths. Between 1816 and 1818, 154 persons died, including young children, new affiliates, and the longer resident adult population. Despite the influx of people, the population declined to 681 people by the end of 1818.
Just two decades prior to this, the Spanish envisioned their founding of Santa Ines as part of the completion of a chain of coastal missions. It would "end the conquest of all the inhabitants from San Diego to San Francisco, between the mountains and the ocean." During the 1790s the conquest had involved building a third town-the Villa de Branciforte, founded in 1791-and seven missions: Missions Soledad and Santa Cruz in 1791; San Miguel, San José, San Fernando, and San Juan Bautista in 1797; and, in 1798, Mission San Luis Rey. In l804, Mission Santa Ines was the last mission in what is a tier of establishments influenced by the Indigenous people active as translators, interpreters, and godparents at their founding.
Without fear of being mistaken ... none of the others have equaled these in grasping the purpose of our efforts.
-Fray Fermín Francisco de Lasuén, 1797
In 1798, as the Spanish began to explore for a site to establish Mission Santa Ines in Chumash territory, they also searched for a site to establish Mission San Luis Rey in Luiseño territory to the south. The Spanish had traveled through Luiseño territory for nearly a quarter of a century to reach all points north from the Presidio and the Mission of San Diego. Yet their records neither commented on the society they passed through nor the interactions and changes they witnessed due to the growth of colonial society to the north and south of Luiseño borders. The increase in disease in Luiseño territory, and the slow shift in power relations regionally, led some chiefs of Luiseño territories to welcome the establishment of a mission there by 1795, when the explorations for a mission site resumed after the first exploration in 1769.
During Governor Portillo's exploratory expedition in 1769, the population did not express a willingness to be settled. Instead, a group of about forty painted and heavily armed Luiseño warriors appeared to accompany the Spanish as they traveled uninvited through the territory. Juan Crespí, the missionary who recorded the journey and located potential mission sites, described the valley as "vastly large, handsome, all very green valley, seemingly all cultivated because it is so green everywhere." He noted lush grasses and tall plants in a valley that measured about two leagues from northeast to southwest, with a varying width from a half to a full league.It had large, deep, spring-fed pools that watered the soil, but dry streambeds. The expedition camped on a level area, where two large villages, too distant to see from the camp, occupied each end of the plane.
Again, a group of about forty heavily armed and painted men from one of the villages approached the camp as they settled. The expedition went out to meet them as they approached. Their leader made a long speech to the expedition, which the translators claimed they could not understand. The translators presumably came from San Diego, and although many people in Luiseño villages might have understood their language, Luiseños' - pronunciation and speech depended on deep traditions associated with their status and village. Afterward the Spaniards and villagers sat down and placed their weapons on the ground. The governor brought out beads and asked the missionaries Juan Crespí and Francisco Gómez to distribute them. The Indigenous leader made Governor Portolá a present of four very good-sized nets used for hunting and fishing and made a "long speech to him inviting us, or so we understood, to visit their village." Afterward, the fifty-two women and children who followed the men approached the gathering, and the women similarly accepted gifts of beads.
The next morning the people from the other village near their camp arrived and went through a similar ritual. Crespí named that site on the plane San Juan Capistrano. He identified it as a promising place for a large mission. The next day the expedition moved forward through a wide canyon that ran due north, finding again a cultivated environment where the population had burnt grasses "here and there" among the knolls and hills of sheer soil and dry grass. Luiseño cultivation of these lands produced seed fields and bulbs and various greens and herbs that sustained their settled populations on semi-arid land. They entered another rich valley where again people from villages, painted for war, met them with diplomacy and gifting. They stayed near one of the largest Luiseño villages, called Topome, that had substantial territory and subsidiary villages. Crespí considered how this area would fit into his plan for a mission in Luiseño territory.
When the Spanish returned to survey the area in 1795, twenty-six years after the Portillo expedition, no armed opposition or curiosity greeted them. It is unclear whether the road on which they traveled remained cultivated and green after the heavy traffic that had passed through, but by their return in 1795, some individual Luiseños had already received baptism and affiliated to other missions, suggesting that dramatic change had begun. Father Juan Mariner wrote in 1795 that in the valley that the Portolá expedition had named San Juan Capistrano "the Indians say that, if a mission is established, they would become Christians." Before settling in that valley, Fray Mariner recommended the territory of Pala be explored, in one of the many interior valleys within Luiseño territory, with a river running through it, and about seven leagues from the Camino Real. The village population of Pala also "said the same, with much pleasure."
The political discussions that took place within and between people in different Luiseño territories remain unknown, but the populations near the Camino Real again welcomed the Spanish in 1797, when Fray Fermín Francisco de Lasuén returned to find a site closer to the Camino Real than the territory of Pala. During his visit, a "numerous and amiable" population greeted them. He wrote of their "bravery and spirit of sacrifice to work and accommodate [the expedition] in the most courteous way." The population wanted the missionaries to establish a mission among them, "and we should attend them" he wrote to Governor Diego de Borica. Having determined the valley along the coast sufficiently large to "reduce" the villages on the lower San Luis Rey into the mission, he placed a cross at the site "to be a signal" of their intent. His account suggests he had reached an accord with the population.But it also suggested he recognized a certain risk. He didn't bless the cross because he feared that it wouldn't be protected but instead defiled.
Lasuén returned once more and, having baptized "some of their sick," he again emphasized their willingness and abilities. He wrote, "Without fear of being mistaken ... none of the others have equaled these in grasping the purpose of our efforts." On this trip he examined the interior and coastal territories a final time, still in search of the best mission site. In the luscious valley near the Camino Real where the mission finally settled, the land could sustain only the population that then lived within the nearest coastal valleys. But when Lasuén could not find a place between the two missions of San Diego and San Juan Capistrano capable of supporting a redución of 1,000, he settled on the site. Quechla (Pablo Tac's Luiseño spelling; the Spanish orthography is Quechinga) had been identified as a potential site by Juan Crespi in 1769, and the population's proximity to the road convinced him to proceed. In his estimation, the Luiseño population had an exceptional character. He wrote, "These pagans are such that, taking into account all the Indians who are subject to us, they are the ones who are outstanding for peaceful dispositions and for a friendly attitude towards our people. They are longing for a mission. ..." Lasuén's references suggest that colonial society had not yet touched Luiseño society, but in fact, it had.In 1783, for example, the leader of the village of Guechi in the valley where the mission would settle sent his sons to Mission San Diego to ask the missionary to aid him by performing the Catholic ceremony of baptism. By the late 1780s, individual Luiseños from coastal villages whose families may have been more severely affected by the Spanish presence had already begun to seek affiliation to the missions in San Diego, San Juan Capistrano, and San Gabriel. Most would return as the first translators and interpreters at the eventual founding of Mission San Luis Rey.
On a trip in 1797, Lasuén referred to baptizing "some of their sick," yet here, as in subsequent correspondence, he never followed up on the nature or type of illness that plagued the population. Moreover, a village near Pala had been attacked. Though Lasuén emphasized the extraordinary support that the valley population and those at Pala offered the mission, incidental notes in his correspondence suggest that some opposed it and that illness itself provoked the sense of need to affiliate to the mission. It formed one of the few recourses one would have. On that same trip in October 1797, Lasuén traveled through the interior territories from Temecula to Pala. They ate at a small, empty village of about eight houses in the territory of Pala (or Souquich). As they ate, someone from that village came along "painted in black." He told them that a few days previously, when the Spanish had camped around Temecula en route to Pala, "their enemies had carried out a raid and had killed a brother of his." The raid could have concerned something else, but it wasn't uncommon for one village to attack another that favored Spanish settlement.
In February and March 1798, a few months before the mission's founding, the entire valley seems to have been taken ill by an epidemic of fever or flu that was spreading through the southern missions. Fray Lasuén recorded the illness only as incidental to the larger story concerning preparation for the mission. He had asked Fray Fuster at San Diego to go to the region and ask its inhabitants to build "four or five little huts ... [and] do a little planting" at the spot around the cross. He told Fray Fuster to induce them to help "by distributing food to the pagans."
The missionary contacted the leader of Quechla (or Quechinga) territory, the "chief of the district," to make labor arrangements. Too ill to meet with Fray Fuster, the leader sent a representative who reported that the population was "more or less incapacitated, and that for the moment nothing could be done."Fray Lasuén reported the incident after having been ill for twenty days, recovering because of "rather potent medicine." He failed to express concern about the many Luiseños and other indigenous people who attempted to recover without such medicine and perhaps without other remedies able to address the new illnesses.
The Spanish records are silent on any effects of the illness at San Luis Rey, but Luiseño writer Pablo Tac later recorded that "there were five thousand souls, with all the countries nearby; due to a sickness that came to California, two thousand souls died and three thousand remained." Learning this by way of oral tradition, Tac remained the only one to suggest the devastation Luiseños suffered prior to the establishment of the mission. At San Diego, during its first twenty-five years, the mission baptized large numbers of orphans and widows due to the rise in death rates in the larger region. Epidemics and contagious diseases spread as people continued intervillage ritual, trade, and marriage. They also spread through Luiseño territory because of the contact made on the Camino Real and through intervillage relations.
Quechla and the Founding of Mission San Luis Rey
Lasuén founded the mission in the territory of Quechla, and the ceremony that accompanied settlement took place on June 12, 1798, at the place "known as Tacayame by the natives and as San Juan Capistrano by our first explorers" wrote Lasuén.The name Tacayame (or Takayymay in current orthography) meant, or came to mean, "volunteered" and "clearly heard." Lasuén proclaimed the right of possession in the name of the king of Spain. Lasuén wrote about the logistics of the founding, the ceremony itself, and the first baptisms. He emphasized the importance of the "many neophytes who had come from San Juan Capistrano and San Diego Missions to do preliminary work here." Those Luiseños who had returned to their territory conducted much of the instruction that adults would receive before baptism. Lasuén also recorded the "great multitude of pagans" or Luiseño people who attended the mass. Some of them immediately made alliances through baptism with the missionaries by presenting twenty-five boys and twenty-nine girls. The next day Lasuén baptized these youth and accepted seven young men and twelve young women for instruction before their baptisms.
Governor Borica attended the founding and referred to these young men and women as "seven adult Moors and twelve Moorish women." The terms Moros and Moras that he used came from the reconquest of Spain and the many former Muslims and Jews who formed the ranks of new Christians in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Spain. In this context, the term emphasized the way the reconquest of the Spanish peninsula had shaped the historical imaginary of those engaged in territorial and spiritual conquest in the Americas. The reconquest of Spain occurred in the centuries-old context of coexistence among Moors, Christians, and Jews. In 1492, the Crown mandated the Moors and Jews of Spain convert to Christianity or leave Spain. Thereafter the new Christians faced public and clerical surveillance and the Inquisition Court if they showed signs of reversion to their original faith.
Borica brought this historical memory of difference, coexistence, and domination into play as he reflected on the founding of San Luis Rey. Lasuén brought a colonial imaginary. Certain as he was that Luiseños understood and agreed with his purpose. Luiseño scholar Pablo Tac brought the oral history he had heard about the founding to his rendition of the settlement and the catastrophe of so many deaths that preceded and ensued. Tac emphasized that Luiseño leaders allowed the Spanish to settle or it would not have been possible. In this, his story concurs with Lasuén's rendition of village leadership willing to allow the Spanish to settle. But, unlike Lasuén and the missionaries, Tac emphasized that the land remained in the possession of discrete Luiseño villages and people, including the mission, built on Tac's paternal ancestral territory.
As many indigenous writers from the Spanish Americas, Tac defined the Luiseño population according to the multiple designations that reflected their need to move between the realities established by Spanish dominion and the knowledge and group identities simultaneously alive among his people. Rather than the Moros and Moras prominent in Governor Borica's account, or the willing converts in Fray Lasuén's story, Tac defined the population as a Christian community of San Luiseños, as colonial subjects or indios, and through their own particular names and territorial designations such as Quechla, Pala, and Temecula. When he wrote of the founding of Mission San Luis Rey taking place on "our land," he meant quite literally the land of his family, kin, and village, as Tac's father's family came from Quechla.
Ablind prayer-leader from San Juan Capistrano Mission who was a native of Luiseño territory worked with other translators to render Christian prayers and doctrine into Luiseño. He instructed the first adults who entered the mission "in their own language." He and other instructors used the word Chinigchinich for the translation of "God," a reference to a personage who existed in the Indigenous belief system in the region for a long period of time. Fray Antonio Peyri, who had just arrived in California, welcomed the prayer-leader and those who joined him because they enabled the missionaries to begin their work immediately. They came from missions where native thought and cultural life was highly influenced by Chinigchinich belief and practice during the colonial era. Their translations placed the Christianity Luiseños accepted in baptism into a framework that would sustain other precolonial practices and ideas.
Within a week after the founding of San Luis Rey, seventy-seven persons had been baptized and twenty-three others received instruction from the blind prayer leader. These twenty-three adults attended "punctually morning and evening from the very day of the founding." Lasuén testified that "larger numbers are not admitted to instruction for it is impossible to maintain them in the customary manner because of the grave and unavoidable inconveniences." They could not feed and clothe a larger group of new converts at that point, with just five soldiers, two missionaries, and thirty Luiseño translators and workers from Missions San Diego and San Juan Capistrano.
As a result of the destructive aspects of contact and the need to gain a share of the new resources, people entered instruction for baptism in large numbers shortly after the mission's establishment, especially from areas most influenced by the decades of travel along the Camino Real. By August 1, 1798, three principal chiefs and their wives from neighboring villages were under instruction, together with twenty-nine others. By early September 1798, Lasuén reported the mission "progressing in spiritual and temporal matters in extraordinary and admirable ways."
Redución and the Relative Autonomy of Luiseño Villages
One thousand, one hundred and fifty-eight people had been baptized at Mission San Luis Rey within the first eight years of its founding. The majority came from the towns in the immediate vicinity of the mission, such as Quechla, Pumusi, and others along the lower San Luis Rey River. Most of those baptized moved into the mission, but the mission could not adequately feed and sustain a larger population than the valley long had. At least half of the Luiseños who affiliated to the mission would never live within its confines. When Fray Lasuén made his decision to found the mission at that site, he planned to only "reduce" the people in that valley to the mission proper.
The mission's ability to grow in size and wealth depended on extending its production beyond the coastal valleys and mesas immediately around it. To do so, missionaries secured agreements with local populations to establish fields, orchards, and grazing areas at Topome (or Santa Margarita), Uchme (or Las Flores), and at Pala, all of these identified as potentially good mission sites during early expeditions. To incorporate the rest of the coastal and interior populations, Lasuén adopted the model favored by Governor Neve (discussed earlier) because it affected the early settlement of the Chumash coast in Santa Barbara. The plan envisioned Indigenous populations living within their villages after baptism rather than in the colonial redución of the mission, and it was put in place in Luiseño territory. The environmental conditions in San Diego, where many similarly lived beyond the mission after their baptisms, also favored this policy.
Most of the people who initially planted and cultivated the mission crops did so in fields cultivated in Luiseño territories far from the mission. They worked in agriculture and tended the enormous herds of livestock, even while most would remain unaffiliated with the mission for decades. Some people in villages across Luiseño territory would never affiliate.
The existing structure of Luiseño society facilitated the agreements that enabled the mission to extend its economy beyond the valley. The precolonial Luiseño population had expanded over centuries within this region. As people forged new towns and claimed new spaces, they also developed a sense of ethnic territory and a web of family and clan relations that connected different politically autonomous tribes or bands to each other. The relationships fostered by marriages that took place among people from Topome and Quechla, for example, probably made it easier for the mission to establish an agreement with village leaders to cultivate in the territory of Topome (Santa Margarita). Marriage ties also facilitated the use of resources of kin from different territories and reinforced the interconnections because some bands had agreements to share particular fishing, acorn gathering, and rock quarry sites. The trails between discrete territories provided access to those areas, while a neutral route to the ocean, for example, ran from the interior along the San Luis Rey River channel, crossing through different territories.
Well before most people had affiliated with the mission, the populations at Topome or Santa Margarita and neighboring Uchme (Las Flores) cultivated large fields of wheat, corn, beans, and barley for the mission. They developed a vineyard and grazed sheep and cattle, affecting the land of subsidiary villages within the political territory of Topome. An enormous increase in livestock took place in less than a decade. Rising from 162 to 4,025 head of cattle, 600 to 11,043 sheep, and 28 to 584 horses between 1798 and 1806, their grazing required the use of many ancient Luiseño territories. A total of 15,730 head of livestock grazed in different territories by 1806. In less than a decade, the key Luiseño towns of Topome and Uchme, Pala and Temecula, had all become integrated into the mission economy with grazing areas and fields.
Since a majority of Luiseños from outside the area where the mission itself existed remained in their villages after baptism, affiliation to the mission could provide resources. During and after drought years, the number of baptisms increased at both San Luis Rey and San Diego as new affiliates sought to broaden their economic connections by gaining greater access to water and European goods. This occurred during the early years of mission existence when the coastal populations in the large valley affiliated in great numbers until about 1806. It happened again in 1819, in the wake of an epidemic and a drought that might have affected native crops more adversely than mission crops.
Fray Peyri wrote that at Pala in 1819 "a large number of gentiles applied for baptism." Though some had been baptized, "many more could be admitted, if there were enough wool to weave into cloth," but many of the mission's sheep had perished. Because of the drought, he had to ask those who applied to wait until enough wool could be produced to make the garments that would signify their status as Christians. After two years of extreme drought, and poor harvests in 1823, large affiliations took place, as they did in 1827, a year of a major epidemic, when the numbers of persons baptized again rose.
The populations at Topome followed this pattern of affiliation during times of crisis as a way to optimize resources and find better possibilities for survival. In 1805 and 1806, in the face of a drought, a major wave of baptisms included ninety persons from Topome. The next large wave of baptisms from Topome occurred five years later, in 1811, and another between 1818 and 1820. Yet it took more than twenty years for most of the population of Topome to affiliate with the mission. Eventually 347 people did so. Topome became the single largest town and territorial population affiliated with Mission San Luis Rey, but as with many Luiseños, most of them remained in their home regions where non-Christians also resided. This pattern of Christians and non-Christians living in their Indigenous towns and villages is common in the Spanish Americas .
More than one mission also served as the destination of Luiseños, especially in the interior, where villages included people affiliated to different missions. At Uchme, a league and a half north of Topome, the mission established the rancho of Las Flores. But few of Uchme's population received baptism at San Luis Rey. Fifteen persons did so, while thirty-five affiliated with San Juan Capistrano. Near the borders claimed by each mission, villagers ran livestock and cultivated crops with relative autonomy from both missions. To conduct religious services for the Christians, San Luis Rey established a mission church at Uchme's center of Las Flores, a center for the grazing region with granaries, corrals, and a house for the overseer. The native village of Las Pulgas (probably Chacape), one league to the north of Uchme, also became a sheep ranch of the mission.
Pala and the Interior
Through an alliance with the people at Pala, the mission began cultivation in the rich valleys to the east that were separated from the coast by the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains' coastal range. Pala formed the colonial center in this interior, and the mission established a small chapel at Pala in 1806. During that year, the first wave of baptisms from interior villages began. Located seven leagues to the northeast of Mission San Luis Rey, Pala existed at the intersection of richly endowed and populous valleys. Streams fed the land around the village and created sufficient water for fields, vineyards, and orchards. In 1810, the mission built a granary for the wheat cultivated for the mission. It purchased vestments to perform more proper and elaborate masses and rituals in the chapel at Pala. The missionaries referred to it as an estancia, an area devoted to livestock grazing and farming, with an array of residential buildings, workshops, and storage areas.
Pala remained the mission's principal center in the interior and expanded to include a large apartment for the girls and unmarried women and another for the boys and unmarried men in 1818. This meant that some of the children baptized from surrounding villages would eventually live in the dormitories for unmarried youth at Pala at the age of nine. Although contacts remained close between the Mission San Luis Rey and Pala, missionaries did not reside at the estancia in Pala. It remained governed mainly by the elders from the village of Pala and Christians who had authority to administer life and work related to the mission.
Some of Pala's population remained unaffiliated to the mission as late as 1825. There, as in surrounding towns, many remained unaffiliated long after their relatives affiliated, and as the mission's presence and influence grew around them. Ultimately, 134 persons from the Luiseño town of Pala affiliated to the mission through baptism, but only a generation after the first affiliation. In the territories surrounding Pala, most of those who affiliated to the mission also continued to live within their traditional villages together with non-Christians.
In the village of Paumega (Pauma), further up the lower San Luis Rey River, parents baptized a large number of their children in l806, making an alliance with the mission and getting beads, cloth, and other gifts as a result. Yet people did not affiliate to the mission en masse; rather they did so over the course of twenty-five years after 1806. By 1831, 184 persons from Pauma had affiliated with the mission.
Cuqui, the second-largest town in Luiseño territory, had a vast political territory that included separate villages, including La Jolla and Yapicha. The first affiliations of Luiseños from Cuqui took place in 1797, and the last affiliation occurred in 1831, thirty-four years later. By that time, 270 people had affiliated to the mission. The territory of Cuqui had an abundance of water, pasture, and large oak groves. Vast pine and redwood forests grew above the village on Palomar Mountain. Many clans composed Cuqui's large population, and marriages had long connected the district with large and small villages throughout Luiseño territory. Affiliation to the mission increased the material well-being of residents in Cuqui. There, as elsewhere in this interior, political autonomy persisted.
In the Luiseño village of Temecula, to the northeast, the mission had built rooms for an overseer in charge of livestock operations and who oversaw the livestock and cultivation of different kinds of beans and vegetables. The mission held its largest cattle ranch at Jaguara or Rancho San Jacinto to the far northeast, twelve leagues from the mission at the base of the Sierra Nevada range. Because most Luiseños remained in many of these villages after baptism, the interior population retained a larger degree of autonomy from the mission than did coastal villages in the immediate vicinity of the mission. Along the coast, many village populations had been reduced to live within the mission.
In the northern end of this long stretch of valleys and foothills that ran east to west along the base of the mountains, the boundaries of Missions San Juan Capistrano, San Gabriel, and San Luis Rey converged. To the southeast were the boundaries of Mission San Luis Rey and San Diego. Unlike in many areas, villagers in this interior tended to affiliate with more than one mission, creating a web of colonial connections throughout a region where autonomous villages thrived. To the southeast of Pala, in the Ipai village of Tahui, eleven people had affiliated with Mission San Luis Rey and many more with San Gabriel.
At Cupa, 133 Cupeños affiliated with Missions San Juan Capistrano and San Luis Rey, while others affiliated with Missions San Gabriel and San Diego. From the large village of Auguanga to the north, most villagers affiliated with Mission San Luis Rey after 1810. In the Luiseño village of Pimixga, adjacent to Auguanga, in contrast, some villagers had affiliated to Mission San Juan Capistrano and another few to Mission San Gabriel before 1810. Thereafter most people from Pimixga affiliated to Mission San Luis Rey. In Temecula, some people affiliated to Mission San Juan Capistrano between 1803 and 1815, and others to Mission San Luis Rey from 1802 to 1823. The interior villages changed as their populations became involved in these institutions, but overall these villages retained greater autonomy and often remained populated through the era.
Exploration to Found New Missions, 1821
By 1821 the missionaries had devised a plan to establish a new mission by creating boundaries between Mission San Luis Rey and Pala. The new mission would enable the Spanish to reduce the many Luiseño, Ipai, and Cupeño people to live at Mission Pala. The missionaries also hoped to expand into Serrano and Cahuilla territories farther east.
On September 10, 1821, Fray Mariano Payeras, head of the California missions, and Fray Sanchez set out from Mission San Diego with native interpreters and Mexican soldiers. They traveled northeast and founded a mission estancia in an Ipai village, which they named Santa Isabel. Payeras baptized villagers and others attending the ceremony from adjacent villages. At a place called Guadalupe, still in Ipai territory about two-and-a-half leagues from Santa Isabel, they raised a cross to mark it as the site of a prospective mission.
Upon entering Luiseño territory, they traveled through a countryside cultivated in places with mission crops that villagers grew for their own communities. After camping at Pala, Payeras said a mass the next morning during which he expressed the missionaries' intentions to found a new mission there. After mass, the Indian guides and translators who accompanied the expedition voiced multiple and strong objections to the establishment of a mission at Pala. Christian and non-Christian Indians attended the event and listened to the discussion. But Sanchez didn't record the content of their objections, implying they didn't need a record. He left silence on the subject, stating, "Having satisfied these [objections] and having baptized five children of neophytes, we had a pleasant rest of about two hours, watching the pagans and Christians enjoying themselves at dancing after their own fashion."
Sanchez saw the dancing as something spontaneous and understood it as entertainment. Yet dance required preparation and had multiple purposes. It would have been organized in advance among the native communities in the region. Dance ritual generally involved the extension of invitations to other villages and gifting between the village holding the dances and those invited to dance. It also required the preparation of the proper regalia for each dance and notification to particular singers and dancers alike. Its performance on this occasion suggests the degree of involvement in the discussion and the serious concern about the new mission at Pala.
Labor, Wealth, and Luiseño Autonomy
The Spanish never built a new mission at Pala because the political climate that favored new missions shifted. Adults continued to affiliate with Mission San Luis Rey, especially from interior villages, during the 1820s and 1830s, and they generally remained within their villages. New affiliates and other villagers alike persisted with their traditional economic practices and contributed to a continuously expanding mission economy. Even within the mission community living at San Luis Rey, many of the economic practices and the taboos that protected the equitable distribution of goods and preservation of resources remained in place.
The Luiseño population continued to engage in systems of reciprocity and exchange that provided for the village and carried resources across many territories. For example, both the fisherman and the hunter refrained from eating what they caught. They gave it to their family and relatives engaged in systems of reciprocity. They traded fish from the sea for beads from the sierra. They traded most freely with relatives. Otherwise they engaged in an exact exchange, "so much for so much." Luiseños also followed long-standing regulations governing birth and reproduction. Men abstained from meat and all fat for some days after the birth of their child, so the child would "not die." Women regulated the pace of their conception, often refraining from bearing a subsequent child until their youngest one could walk.
The Indian village of Quechla at the mission consisted of "huts thatched with straw, mostly conical in shape, scattered or grouped on a large plot." One family occupied each hut. Initially, some of the houses were made of stone and "arranged regularly," but Luiseños considered the traditional huts, which they burned and rebuilt annually, cleaner and far more desirable. The adjacent mission had an aqueduct that carried water to the mission proper and its buildings, small orchards and fields, textile and leather factories, hide and tallow workshops, residences for the guards, and dormitories for unmarried youth.
From Pablo Tac's description of daily life in the village, the household organized people's affective and daily life. Every household also belonged to a large tribal unit with its respective elders who held traditional knowledge and its linguistic particularities. Alcaldes, elected leaders who had attained the most fluent bilingual and bicultural status acted as mediators between the missionary and indigenous community. Tac describes the mission village and Indian home with warm sentiments and foregrounds the authority of the father and the work of the mother to maintain the home. Each member of the household worked in traditional or new economies. Most family members worked at the mission, but some engaged in traditional practices such as to feed the family and to fulfill their obligations to the mission.
Part of the well-being of the Luiseño population came from living within their villages where the authority and practices of traditional leaders prevailed. Healers persisted within and outside the missions, as did ritualistic practices such as dance and the use of toloache. This herb produced a trance state in which forms of knowledge and power could be derived, including the power to heal, to make rain, to produce better crops, and to rectify conditions. Astrologers remained active. They continued to hold feasts and dance at the time of the harvest of acorns and seeds. Despite the change to burial from cremation, Luiseños continued to follow many of their ritual practices around death.
The large population of 2,603 Christian Luiseños in 1820 grew to 2,663 in 1827, and to 2,776 baptized Luiseños by 1830, but many other Luiseños had not been baptized. The large population created substantial wealth for the mission, and San Luis Rey had engaged in a vigorous trade in hides, tallow, and factory goods. By 1827 Mission San Luis Rey reached eleven leagues north to south, fifteen leagues east to west, and the size and wealth of the mission exceeded that of all other missions. The mission possessed 22,610 cattle, 27,412 sheep, 1,120 goats, 1,501 horses, and more than 500 pigs and mules. This livestock was scattered among the mission's four large ranchos established over a wide territory due to the scarcity of water and the ability to cultivate the many lush valleys.Livestock continued to increase through the 1830s, although agricultural production scaled back.
For decades, the Luiseño population had created the wealth that made San Luis Rey very important in the extensive trade with Spanish and then Mexican, American (north and south), and European ships. The government in California considered opening a port near the mission to facilitate this large degree of commerce. Luiseños also helped to support the military with their production of food from the mission fields and textile and shoe operations. In 1827, for example, Peyri sent a donation of "corn, beans, wheat, lard, soap, frazadas, serapes, and shoes" to the troops in San Diego.At that point the missionary had developed elaborate trade relations with foreign ships and entertained parties that arrived on the Old Spanish Trail.
This productivity came, in large part, from the greater health and well-being of Christians living in their villages who could draw on their traditional and new economies. All three southern missions of San Juan Capistrano, San Luis Rey, and San Diego had lower death rates than the other California missions, but San Luis Rey's population had the lowest rate. When drought hit the harvest at other missions the rate of death tended to rise, but poor harvest did not affect San Luis Rey that way. Making use of diverse resources, Luiseños managed to retain more strategies for survival. Given the structure of affiliation, with more than half of the Christians living in their villages, Luiseños engaged in long-standing economic practices while also incorporating Spanish food production, growing grape vines, and peach, pear, apple, and fig trees. Individuals even held a few cattle and an occasional horse in their villages as family property. People who had affiliated to the mission by baptism, and some who had not, tended large mission flocks and incorporated other colonial products into their village life.
Where redución had been partial, as at both San Diego and San Luis Rey, the populations reached their largest sizes in the Mexican era. Most other mission populations had reached their peaks and begun to decline by that period. The Chumash mission populations reached their height during the decade of the 1800s; they incorporated the island populations by 1816, but the overall size continued to decline.Missions San Juan Capistrano and San Gabriel reached their largest populations during the 1810s, with 1,361 affiliates at Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1812 and 1,701 neophytes at Mission San Gabriel in 1817. After these heights, their numbers slowly declined through the 1830s.
At most missions, deaths became far more frequent than births during the 1820s, but not at Mission San Luis Rey, where the birth rate never declined. San Diego reached its largest size of 1,829 people in 1824. San Luis Rey's population continued to rise in the 1830s. During the entire mission period, San Luis Rey's baptismal and birth rate remained high in comparison to the population's rate of death. This contrasted sharply to other mission regions in California and was more in keeping with the populations who lived in autonomous villages connected to Mission San Diego.
Chief Tiisac on Horseback: Horses and Yokuts Independence
The troops only serve in the present system to inculcate respect, set good examples for the Indians, punish with prudence the excesses they commit, and prohibit their use or riding of horses.
-Governor Fagas to Lasuén, 1787
In all the rancherias where I've been, I've encountered runaways.
-Fray Luís Antonio Muños, 1816
Far north of Luiseño territory and east of Chumash territory, the Spanish established relationships with Yokuts people on whose lands they hoped to build missions. While the Spanish colonized Chumash and Luiseño lands, the Yokuts engaged in defending their Independence and increasing their power in relationship to the Spanish. Some Yokuts villages also established relationships with coastal missions who began to extensively recruit them during the decade of the 1810s. Yokuts territory became a region that gave refuge to people who fled the missions, with villages that had horses stolen from the missions. The area became one subject to increasing violence during these years.
In an interaction not uncommon among Yokuts and missionaries, in 1819 Chief Tiisac of Tachi, a large village in the San Joaquin Valley, arrived at Mission Soledad on horseback with a Christian Indian José Maria, three mounted assistants, and twelve men on foot.Though armed, they did not intend to fight. Rather, they rode horses and carried arms in order "to make themselves respectable" and for protection, as missionary Payeras later reported to the governor. Chief Tiisac went to Mission Soledad in order to negotiate the status of fugitives from the mission who took refuge in his village and in other nearby villages. He sought to avoid Spanish aggression against his village, which the Spanish might attempt in order to retrieve those who had fled the mission. A year earlier, a group of forty-seven people escaped from Mission Soledad. About half the group came from Chief Tiisac's village of Tachi and another quarter from neighboring Eyotachi. He and the missionary arrived at an agreement, the terms of which Payeras did not record. Payeras sent the agreement and gifts to the brother of Chief Tiisac and asked Tiisac to wait at the mission for the answer. But Tiisac had sent for help, and when it arrived, he and his group escaped at night, undetected.
That Tiisac and his party arrived on horseback in 1819 suggests the vast transformation that Yokuts territory had gone through in less than twenty years. In 1805 Fray José María de Zalvidea made a first major expedition to Yokuts country, setting out from Mission Santa Ines on July 21, 1805. Within a decade, by 1817, the region of Telamni, opposite Mission San Miguel and about fifty leagues (or 150 miles) away, had been carefully explored and plans made to establish a mission and presidio there. The missionaries estimated about 4,000 people lived in the region.
But during that decade nearly every village in Yokuts territory became a place for refuge from the missions and people lived in villages that possessed horses. A new geography had emerged in the valley. Particular missions made alliances with specific villages, and long-term relationships developed, especially with Missions San Miguel, Soledad, Santa Cruz, and San Juan Bautista. The contact involved the spread of epidemics and illness in Yokuts territory and the increasing presence of horses taken from the missions. It included the escalating violence Yokuts experienced from Spanish and Mexican expeditions to retrieve people and punish Yokuts for raiding and for abetting fugitives (or runaways from the missions).
Refugees from the missions brought knowledge of how to tame, care for, and ride horses that they had learned at the missions. Fugitives like the Christian Indian José Maria, who traveled with Tiisac's party, were often able to translate. Such translators helped devise a politics of negotiation and resistance from the understanding they had gained of the colonial world.
Chief Tiisac's desire to negotiate the fate of people from his village and to avoid conflict also speaks to the vulnerability of the many villages in Yokuts country. Violence and disease had increased within the region. The area had become subject to the recruitment of new converts for missions in the northern part of the central coast who sought to rebuild their populations due to the devastatingly high rate of death of the Esselin and Ohlone populations.
That Chief Tiisac and his party arrived on horseback with a Christian Indian also speaks to the limitations of colonial power in California. The region remained a land of independent tribes. Further, it illustrates the failure of one of the most important policies defining colonial relations. Since the early colonial era, the law strictly prohibited most Indians from riding horses while allowing exceptions for Indigenous leaders allied to the Spanish, native cowboys, and military auxiliaries who contributed to the economy and colonial governance. Governor Fagas reminded Missionary Francisco Lasuén of the prohibition, emphasizing that the soldiers "only exist in the present system to inculcate respect, set an example for the Indians, to punish with prudence the excesses they commit, and prohibit them from using or riding horses."
Fagas accused Lasuén of allowing a notoriously excessive number of Indians on horseback at Mission San Luis Obispo, where he thought the number of riders exceeded the number of cowboys.Lasuén responded that Indians only rode horses and bore arms while in the service of the church or government and then in the smallest number necessary and according to all of the restrictions imposed by law.
To the Spanish the horse was as important as soldiers for establishing their control over native societies and large spaces. For the Yokuts, the horse similarly offered a means to retain control of their region. Horses stolen from the missions became a new and important trade good. A regular trade in stolen horses had developed by the late 1820s with American and New Mexican traders who came to California on the Old Spanish Trail. The Yokuts integrated horses into a tribal politics that increasingly demanded leaders able to negotiate with the Spanish authorities and missionaries. Horses also represented a new form of expressing status and a different way to move through space. The eating of highly nutritious horsemeat became routine for many Yokuts, and missionaries sometimes referred to the region as one inhabited by "horse eaters."
Access to horses increased as people entered the missions, and the missionaries disagreed over the effectiveness of the recruitment of Yokuts, whose villages generally took a three-day walk or longer to reach. In his most extensive correspondence on the subject, Payeras wrote, "The extremely fickle Tulareños are here today and gone tomorrow, not on foot like they come, but rather on horseback. ... They kill the horses and eat them." He complained, "Any small altar boy grabs horses; kills cattle; goes about the mission chain terrorizing; steals tame and castrated herds, taking and selling them" in Yokuts territories. To gain control over the region and its people, Payeras favored building a new chain of missions and presidios there. He feared that things would "get to the point of threatening the existence of this province and of transforming into a new Apachería a country that up to a short while ago was a center of tranquility." The reference is to the geography of the Apachería, where native people with horses included Apaches, Utes, Navajo, and Comanches; they achieved substantial political control but were also caught in webs of violent colonial interactions.
Yokuts Villages and Coastal Missions
Four missions in particular developed ties to Yokuts villages in the Central Valley from which they recruited populations for periods that sometimes expanded the course of decades. Substantial numbers of Yokuts affiliated to Missions Soledad, Santa Cruz, San Juan Bautista, and San Miguel. Many fewer Yokuts affiliated to the Chumash missions. Those who did came from the region around Buena Vista Lake.
Costanoan and Esselen affiliated to Mission Soledad between 1791 and 1807. But Yokuts people (designated as being from "El Tular," a reference to the entire region that included people from Chief Tiisac's village of Tachi and territories that surrounded it), began to enter the mission in 1806 and continued to do so until 1818. In the early 1820s, nearly one hundred people affiliated from Pitkachi and other villages in south-central Yokuts territory.
Founded in 1791, Mission Santa Cruz attained it largest population in 1797 with 523 Indigenous people from territories surrounding the mission. The population began to decline from 1797 until after 1810 when the missionaries turned to recruit in two villages in the San Joaquin Valley: Tejey and Yeurata. In 1818 they drew in another 150 people from different villages. Despite the recruitment of Yokuts, the Santa Cruz Mission population declined to 358 people by 1817 because of death and flight. When it began a concerted effort to rebuild its population once again, the mission incorporated two hundred new affiliates from around ten Yokuts villages between 1817 and 1824. At that date, the Santa Cruz mission population had risen to 519 people once again, and it had a multilingual and ethnically diverse population.
Mission San Juan Bautista, founded in 1797, reached a large population of 1,112 in 1805. It began a slow decline in its Ohlone population until it recruited 915 Yokuts between 1817 and 1822. The highly multiethnic population came from thirteen different villages. Some wanted to join husbands and spouses who had affiliated to the mission, and some brought infants and children with them. By 1823, Mission San Juan Bautista had a largely Yokuts population of 1,248 people.
San Miguel, founded in 1798 in Salinan territory, had a large population of Salinans by 1806, with 1,322 people. Thereafter it grew through recruitment of Yokuts people. The mission maintained enduring but fraught and violent relationships to Yokuts villages, especially those of Wowol (Bubal) and Auyame. Wowol figured most prominently among them, and recruitment there sustained San Miguel's population between 1806 to 1817, when it reached its largest number of 1,025 people.
The village of Wowol existed about seven leagues (or 21 miles) away from San Miguel, and villagers from the territory established a relationship to San Miguel as early as 1803 and through 1825, at which point more than a hundred people had affiliated to the mission from Wowol, a territory with a population that ranged from 250 to 300 people. Many more from Wowol joined the mission again between 1832 and 1838, when about 116 joined, as would other Yokuts during those years, leaving villages that had recently been devastated by disease and warfare that engulfed the territories in the valley at that time.
During these years, Wowol retained its independence but remained subject to coercion and violence. In 1816 Mission San Miguel sent an expedition of soldiers to recapture runaways, and they burnt down the village of Wowol when villagers refused to give them up. Yet people from Wowolcontinued tojoin their Christian relatives and compatriots at fiestas and other celebrations at San Miguel. By 1826, Dolores Pico reported encountering "many Christians who were home on vacation" in Wowol. Pico himself headed an expedition to bring fugitives back to the missions from Yokuts villages, and he checked the papers of everyone in the village of Wowol. His ability to do so emphasizes the repressive features of the relationship. Those from the mission presented him with their papers and passports issued at San Miguel to certify their right to take leave. Village leaders offered to supply Pico's party and help them "go and fight the Taches," who were another powerful Yokuts group. Messengers from Mission San Miguel commonly moved back and forth between the mission and Yokuts villages to receive and convey messages about events in the colony and in Yokuts territory.
Smaller numbers of people also joined from Tulamni. Initially a handful of people joined the mission, but no one from the village did so subsequently. Mission San Miguel thrived, in part, through its connections to independent Yokuts tribes. Their populations continued to be integrated into Mission San Miguel through the early 1820s.
Few Yokuts went to the Chumash missions, but a number of people from villages around Buena Vista Lake affiliated to Santa Ines, La Purisima, and San Luis Obispo. As happened at other missions, many of them subsequently fled back to their villages. Payeras wrote about one group of fugitives. The story suggests the connections forged with people who would later aid exiles from those missions during the 1824 war.
In 1817 a young man named Viquiet was baptized at Mission Santa Ines and given the name Sebastian. Missionary Urea transferred him to Mission La Purisima, where a few others from his region lived. His thirty-five-year-old father, Paulino Sualacia of Guasná, lived at Mission San Luis Obispo. Later that year, Viquiet fled La Purisima and returned to Yokuts territory with his father and four others. The village of Tulamni took them in. Three of the six fugitives were born in the village of Tulamni: a fifty-year-old woman named Marita and her two sons, twenty-five-year-old Felipe Amuchu, and thirteen-year-old Diego Chaiaui. They also took in Marita's fifty-five-year-old husband Sergioi Iaiachuit from the village of Esgeliulimu, Viquiet, and his father.
The missionaries thought Felipe Amuchu was the one fugitive among them who might resist capture. They sent Odórico, who was a friend of Felipe Amuchu, a former alcalde at La Purisima and considered a devout Christian, to bring them back. But upon Odórico's arrival, all six escaped by leaving the village via the lake.Unlike some of the native auxiliaries who traveled to capture fugitives, Odórico did not use force.
The hostilities that arose in the next few months emphasize the bitter resistance developed among Yokuts leaders against the sexual violence of the soldiers. Soldiers had attempted to rape the daughter of a man named Ecsanonauit, who defended her with his brother-in-law and a group of armed Yokuts. Afterward, many Yokuts leaders refused to have relations with the Spanish for a period. They leaders threw back the beads offered as gifts to negotiate the return of the fugitives. By May, Fray Payeras wrote that the Yokuts were "establishing in the interior a republic of Hell and a diabolical union." He insisted that, if the situation was not "promptly dealt with, a missionary soon will have nothing left to do in the Province."
Tulamni had taken in fugitives from all the missions in the jurisdiction of the Santa Barbara Presidio, and the villagers protected Felipe Amachu and the others.By May 1818, two expeditions had been sent out with Yokuts among them. Despite their promises that the missionaries would forgive rather than punish them, the fugitives refused to return. Moreover, one of the indigenous envoys sent to retrieve Amachu, "in whom I had placed the greatest trust," wrote Payeras, refused to return to the mission. He too took the "protection and safety" offered by the people at Tulamni. In October 1818 Payeras again sent Odórico to capture the fugitives; this time accompanied by native archers and cowboys who had "26 bows and 500 arrows." Of the group who escaped La Purisima, Felipe Amachu never returned. Only the father of Paulino Sualacia eventually did so.
Fray Muñoz complained about the often unrestrained violence against those who resisted the orders of the military to burn villages. He noted the conditions of general warfare as an aside, in warning of the "deceptive friendliness" of villagers who, he insisted, could not be trusted. They had very little legal protection, but their environment offered the conditions that enabled them to resist, negotiate with, and raid from the Spanish.
Swampland and marshes existed near the most densely inhabited parts of the valley, areas where the cavalry could not enter. When a person risked being captured or a village faced invasion, they retreated into the swamp where horses could not go. Although such an escape might precipitate the burning of a village, the fish, plant growth, tule roots, and various freshwater shellfish such as clams existed in the lakes and swamps in abundance. This environment made it possible for Yokuts populations and fugitives to hide and subsist in places inaccessible to their pursuers for long periods of time.
Indigenous Trade: Yokuts and Mojave Traders at the Missions
Historical trade routes ran from the coastal tribes through the Yokuts territories and beyond, extending into the mountains and the Colorado and Mojave Deserts. Yokuts acted as intermediaries linking the trans-Sierra and coastal regions. Every Yokuts village had individuals and families of professional traders. They covered great distances during their trading expeditions. From their trade with Gabrieliño, Chumash, and other coastal tribes who lived in the missions, they procured horses, glass beads, and other Spanish and Mexican goods. They introduced these products into their trans-Sierra trade with Eastern Miwok, Monachi, Tubatulabal, Kawaiisu, Mono Basin Paiute, Owens Valley Paiute, and Coso Shoshone people. East-west trails followed the primary waterways within valley and foothill regions and reached the coast via a few low passes that cut through the coastal range.
Yokuts and other traders from territories along the Rio Colorado followed their trade partners to the missions, where annual and seasonal exchangepersisted. Indians within all the missions remained part of long established and newer trade networks. Yokuts traders went annually to San Fernando, San Gabriel, and Chumash missions. They often arrived in large numbers, perhaps for ceremonial occasions that included gifting and dispersing goods otherwise shared through trade. Their visits probably included dancing and speeches and may have deliberately coincided with traditional events and the Christian calendar. The Spanish seemed to know little about the trade. They recorded the presence of some of the traders and their own fears about their proximity.The mission often increased the guard while traders were present.
The missionaries expressed their strongest reservations against the Colorado tribes who traded at the missions in cloth, dyes, beads, blankets, and other things. In both 1807 and 1808 the missionaries at Mission San Fernando attempted to stop the trade. The governor asked the traders to withdraw from the mission and ordered the guards not to admit them and to jail those who persisted. In March 1811, officials wrote of their fear that all the Indians from the mountains and the desert would join together and attack Mission San Gabriel.
Rumors of Colorado River tribes offering to help stage a rebellion echoed again in 1813, with reports that Indians from the Rio Colorado went to San Gabriel to invite the population to live among them after they rose up against the mission. The problem persisted. In 1816 the governor decided to "prevent the Indians who came from the Colorado from bartering cloth and dyes." He threatened to punish them if they should return.
The growing fear of the Colorado tribes erupted into a major disaster against Mojave people at Mission San Buenaventura in 1819, when a group of Mojave traders came to the mission to trade "and have social relations with the neophytes of these missions," as one later stated. They also stopped at Mission San Fernando. The sergeant at San Buenaventura had received orders not to allow the Mojave traders to stay at the mission but to direct them northward to the Presidio of Santa Barbara. They were to be sent off with the warning that they were not to return. Instead, the guard at Mission San Buenaventura placed them in the jail. The Mojave traders got control of the guns and shot at the soldiers. Unfortunately, a few of the Mojave died in the battle. Others escaped. The soldiers captured four and put them on trial.
At the trial these traders described themselves as Amajaba Indians, who bartered old blankets for beads and traded beads for the ochre dye they brought. Mojave people functioned more as a nation of interrelated tribes than most California groups who lived in politically autonomous tribes. They traded widely and had a long history of sending traders to the California coast. From a nation divided into sixteen villages, each of the captured men had been born and lived in a different village headed by a chief, and they worked together trading. They estimated their territory lay fourteen days by horseback and fifteen to sixteen on foot.
Trade relations became less frequent between the Mojave and the missions after this violent incident and deaths. Missionaries continued to express their fear of a united opposition against them that would include the Mojave, other autonomous tribes and groups, and Christian Indians of the coast. By 1821, the authorities at San Gabriel and San Fernando planned to "wall the missions" in order to "ward off the attacks of the savage Indians" and "prevent all trade and communication" between indigenous people in the missions and Yokuts and Mojave traders.
Cimarrones and the Apachería: A Colonial Geography beyond Settlement
A colonial geography emerged that encompassed Indigenous territories on which the Spanish settled and that extended far beyond the coast through the spread of a set of relationships, technologies, horses, illness, and goods that brought independent Indian societies into the colonial orbit. In part this happened because of the many Yokuts people who affiliated to the missions and then fled. Those who had escaped formed a visible and significant part of Yokuts society. By 1816, Fray Muñoz said that cimarrones inhabited every Yokuts village he visited. In the 1819 encounter with Chief Tiisac and his party at Mission Soledad, discussed earlier, Fray Payeras referred to the party as "those gentiles and perverse cimarrones." Nonetheless, Fray Payeras extended an invitation to Chief Tiisac to have people from his village join the mission, trying to further deepen the connections between the village and Mission Soledad.
These references to cimarrones and the Apachería brought together two distinct dimensions of Spanish colonial and native history and situated it within a long-established colonial geography. Cimarrones associated California with the Antilles, where the word cimarrón was already in use during the first third of the sixteenth century. Of Antillian Indigenous origin, it applied to Indians, blacks, and animals that took flight to the hills and mountains by 1535. In Spanish, cima refers to the geography created by those who fled across "summits" or the peaks crossed and mountainous villages inhabited by the runaways. It carried into the French and English as marrones and maroon colonies, places throughout the Americas to where individuals and groups who had been enslaved escaped, and set up their own villages or integrated into native villages that would accept them.
The Apachería was connected to northern Mexico, where groups of Apaches, Comanches, Navajos, Utes, and other tribes vied for dominance in the system of raiding and trading in goods and human captives. The most powerful tribes adopted the horse and expanded and transformed their economies. The Quechan and Yuma tribes that closed the Yuma Pass to military and settlers bound for California in the 1781 war formed part of the Indigenous borderlands or Apachería.
A notable number of cimarrones lived within the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley and toward the Colorado and Mojave Deserts to the east of Mission San Diego. Established communities of Yokuts and other societies took in fugitives even before the missionaries began to recruit in the region. As early as 1799 a man named Agustin reportedly fled Mission San Antonio to Yokuts territory. In 1806 Fray Estevan Tapís organized a large expedition that left from Mission San Diego intent on retrieving and bringing back the many cimarrones missing from that mission.
Violent conflict sometimes erupted between the cimarrones and Indigenous people at the missions. In 1807, a group of Indigenous people, including cimarrones, killed between eleven and thirteen Christian Indians. Fray Abella reported that an alcalde probably had "a divided heart, with the better part probably inclined to sympathy" for the cimarrones rather than the mission population. As will be seen, that alcalde would not be alone. Another group of cimarrones stole thirty-one horses from a native vaquero (cowboy) and had among them native men who had escaped prison. Soldiers and some Indian auxiliaries sent to capture fugitives from the missions frequently clashed with cimarrones and Yokuts villagers. But many of the auxiliaries from the mission retained familial or favorable relations with Indigenous people who fled, as alluded to by the missionary's insinuation about the alcaldes' sympathies.
The missionaries almost always saw cimarrones as thieves, integrating their knowledge of horses and other livestock into the trade economy of the interior. In 1822 Missionary Ruíz identified cimarrones from San Gabriel who lived in an Indigenous village in the hills. They formed an illicit venture in "stealing cattle and horses that they eat and trade with those from the Colorado." Here he alludes to the larger network of trade relations that would become significant during the 1820s. Cimarrones and non-Christian tribes nearer to the missions would raid livestock and trade with the Cahuilla, Yuman, and other tribes in the desert region to the southeast. From Mission Dolores, Father Ygnacio Martínez declared the Christian Indians Apolonio Sebastian and Hilario to be "cimarrones, confirmed killers of cattle and robbers of horses." Martínez said they would serve prison terms. One of them made his defiance clear, stating the punishment would be pointless, since, he insisted, they had long been in the business of killing and stealing livestock.
Any alliances the missionaries forged with autonomous Indigenous groups remained somewhat tentative and unstable. Such tensions can be seen in the interactions with the Cocomaricopa of the Yuma Desert, who aided with delivery of the mail between the missions and northern Mexico. In 1824 the missionaries compensated a group of Cocomaricopa for their service by giving each of them a horse. Yet later, when the missionaries could not locate the whereabouts of these mounted Cocomaricopa, they exchanged desperate correspondence that suggested the messengers had gone to the mountains with "el Capitancillo José" and wouldn't return or send information. The missionaries frequently seemed nervous that native allies would become enemies. The dominance of independent tribes that began at the boundaries of colonial institutions created a space missionaries would speak about with fear, as will be discussed at a later point.
A geography of colonial sites on Indigenous lands emerged in California in the decades after 1769, and it reflected the rapid restructuring of Indigenous societies along the coast as they addressed new conditions during a "time of little choice" produced by Spanish colonization. The varied geography of colonial California reflected the distinctive histories of colonial encounters and gave rise to colonial imaginaries long used to define geographic areas of independent and autonomous Indigenous societies. The next chapter explores the meaning of becoming Indian in California and the framework of native thought and ritual practice that addressed such things as military defeat, relocation, and massive deaths. After being renamed and dressed in new cloths, the chapter suggests, leaders sought their own redress through Indigenous means, to recover dignity, and to acquire new knowledge while living in the missions.
This chapter has looked at Chumash, Luiseño, and Yokuts people to establish a sense of the distinct histories involved in the formation of each mission. Missions Santa Barbara and La Purisima had large populations by 1804, when the missionaries, soldiers, and some Chumash people affiliated to those missions founded Mission Santa Ines. As Indigenous translators and godparents, they interpreted the significance of the massive change and new ideas to their relatives and villages.
In the years when the missionaries explored the independent villages in the area of the prospective mission of Santa Ines in 1798, they also founded five missions, including Mission San Luis Rey. Unlike the policy of redución, under which many people lived estranged from their ancestral lands when they relocated to the missions, more than half of those baptized at Mission San Luis Rey remained in their own villages. In this way, the mission spread its economy across Luiseño territory in advance of significant baptisms. This degree of autonomy facilitated the persistence of the traditional economy as well and sustained a greater degree of wealth and well-being than in missions where reducíon led to a slow and uneven pattern of decline due to death.
In contrast to the situation of coastal tribes, Yokuts people lived over the Sierra Nevada mountain range around lush marshlands, major rivers, and lakes. They were able to remain Independent, even as particular Yokuts villages developed relationships with certain missions. Yokuts villages had diplomatic and antagonist relationships with the Spanish. Though they engaged in conflict, retreat into swampland proved their most effective means of evading deadly violence. The Yokuts economy became part of the raiding and trading Indigenous borderlands after 1800. That borderlands becomes particularly significant to this book in later chapters.