The First Farm Workers 
"The Indian in the Closet" 
Southern California: 
An Island on the Land 
Select Bibliography 
By Carey McWilliams 
(New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1946;
republished in Santa Barbara: Peregrine Smith, 1979) 
[This article, with its reflexive cultural prejudices and much good will, is an interesting document both for its own attitudes and for its history of attitudes. The description of life before the Spanish incursion is full of factual errors and irrelevant value judgements, while the anecdotes from the Mission period, the years after the secularization, and the American conquest are full of interesting detail with a plausible basis in written sources.   - Francis Steen]
"Here the Indians gathered round them,
Here the crucifix adored
While the vibrant bells' sweet music
On the sleeping air was poured."
                        —Eliza A. Otis

A land of magical improvisation, Southern California has created its own past, with a special cast, and a script written by its favorite troubadours, John Steven McGroarty, George Wharton James, and Charles Fletcher Lummis. Unquestionably the production, with its improvised traditions and manufactured legends, has been a huge success. There have been few visitors to Southern California who have not made a tour of the Missions, purchased a postcard with a picture of Ramona's birthplace, and attended a performance of the Mission Play. With a boldness more comic than brazen, the synthetic past has been kept alive by innumerable pageants, fiestas, and outdoor enactments of one kind or another; by the restoration of the Missions; and by the establishment of such curious spectacles as Olvera Street in the Old Plaza section of Los Angeles.

The symbols of this synthetic past are three in number: the Franciscan padre praying at sundown in the Mission garden, lovely Ramona and brave Alessandro fleeing through the foothills of Mt. San Jacinto, and the Old Spanish Don sunning himself in the courtyard of his rancho. Around these sacred symbols, the legends have grown. According to the authorized version, the officially approved script, the Indians were devoted to the Franciscans, and, with the collapse of the Mission system, lost their true friends and devoted defenders. As Michael Williams puts it, "The poor, foolish, yet gentle and lovable sheep lost their shepherds, and upon them rushed the wolves of vice, of robbery, of cruel injustice." The other side of the legend has to do with the idyllic period "before the gringos" came, when the Spanish residents of Alta California, all members of one big happy guitar-twanging family, danced the fandango and lived out days of beautiful indolence in lands of the sun that expand the soul. Before explaining how this legend came into existence, it might be well to take a look at the facts.

If asked to define the areas of Indian influence in the United States, the average American would probably reply, "Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and the Great Plains." After a moment's reflection, he might add Wisconsin and the Northwest, and, if prodded sufficiently, he might even mention Florida and California. But it is extremely unlikely that he would think of Southern California, so thoroughly has the region buried its Indian dead. But the Indian skeleton is still there, in the closet, and of late such investigators as Dr. S. F. Cook of the University of California have been performing an interesting, if belated, post-mortem.

Indians have exerted a profound influence on the development of Southern California. Despite the fact that Indian influences have been frequently confused with Spanish influences (wherever possible the Spanish has been emphasized to the detriment of the Indian), the Indian influence is still perceptible throughout the region, primarily in the long since forgotten origin of such curious place-names as Anacapa, Azusa, Cahuenga, Camulos, Castac, Cosmit, Cucamonga, Cuyama, Cuyamaca, Guajome, Guatay, Hueneme, Jalama, Jamacha, Jamul, Jurupa, Lompoc, Malibu, Mugu, Muscipiabe, Nipomo, Ojai, Otay, Pocoima, Pala, Pismo, Saboba, Saticoy, Sespe, Tapu, and Yacaipa. aThe Indian of Southern California," writes Owen H. O'Neill, "has left a greater imprint on the land than is generally known. He located all of the Spanish Missions of California. The padres built where the Indians were established in greatest numbers. Most of the cities of the coastal region are built squarely upon Indian village sites. The reason is a simple one: the Indians chose the most favored spot with a sure knowledge born of long experience in the region. He sought fresh water, a scarce commodity in early days; a smooth shoreline; and abundant vegetation." The Indian village of Yang-na became Los Angeles; Sibag-na is now San Gabriel; while Santa Ana is located on the site of the Indian village of Hutucg-na.

While not a living influence, the dead hand of the Indian is everywhere upon the land. Indian forced-labor is the key to the explanation of the rapid agricultural development, as it also explains the backward and restricted character of this development. Indians furnished the labor power for the far-flung Mission enterprises. They cleared the ground, planted the first vineyards, constructed the irrigation ditches and canals, and built the Missions. The Indian influence explains the singular dichotomy in the cultural traditions of the region between what is termed "Spanish," and is therefore valuable and praiseworthy, and what is termed "Mexican" and is therefore undesirable. For while Indian and Spanish are, in a sense, oppositional terms in this cultural tradition, the Indian and Mexican influences tend to merge. Lastly, the brutal treatment of Indians in Southern California in large part explains the persistence of an ugly racial arrogance in the mores of the region of which, alas, more than a vestige remains.

Somehow this Indian background got lost in the transition from Spanish to English. There was much lore and information about the Indians in the Spanish archives which did not reappear in English until long after most of the Indians had been exterminated. Even after the Spanish chronicles began to appear in English, the record remained incomplete and misleading. For there was much confusion and contradiction in the Spanish version, with Mission apologists being ranged against Mexican anti-clericals. Going back over these records in later years, the American historians popularized whichever version best suited their particular purposes. When the great commercial value of the Mission tradition was discovered around 1888— an event of major importance in the cultural history of Southern California—the healthy realism of such California historians as Bancroft, Forbes, and Hittell was largely forgotten and the Franciscan version of the Indian was accepted at face value. In a region of rapid social change, such as Southern California, traditions have a tendency to become lost, distorted, or confused, with part of the confusion being purposeful and part fortuitous. It is not surprising, therefore, that a bizarre pattern of cultural miscegenation should have developed in the region in which the Indian influence was almost wholly obscured.

"The poor California Indian," writes Dr. John Walton Caughey, "has almost never had a good word said for him." Neither the Spanish explorers and colonizers nor the Franciscan fathers were particularly impressed with the Indian in California. In fact they inclined to write the Indian down to the lowest level of humanity, as Stephen Powers once observed, "that the more conspicuous might appear that self-sacrificing benevolence which reached down to pluck him to salvation." If the Franciscans were condescending, the early Anglo settlers were contemptuous. When the great overland trek started, these settlers brought the term "Digger Indian," with all its ugly implications, from the region of the Great Salt Lake and the Humboldt Valley and applied it to the California Indians. As thus applied the term was as unjustly opprobrious as it would have been to call all Chinese "rat-eaters ."

At a later date, when the Mission legend had become part of a grandiose real-estate ballyhoo, a wholly mythical "Mission Indian" was created and invested with the sentiments of a New England schoolmarm. Thus, to this day, the word "Indian" in Southern California has its sacred and profane connotations. In the flesh—in the areas where they still survive—Indians remain "Digger Indians," fabled in local folklore for their thievery, filth, and lechery. But, with each annual production of the Ramona Pageant, pictures of godlike Indians in battle-dress appear in the rotogravure sections of the Los Angeles Times and the Indian Love Call echoes throughout Southern California. Underlying these layers upon layers of confusion, myth, and prejudice is a substratum of fact which it is the purpose of this chapter to explore.


In pre-Columbian times, it is estimated that there were about 130,000 Indians in California. If this estimate is correct, then California had about 16% of the aboriginal population of the United States by comparison with 5% of its land area. Even at the minimum estimate of 130,000 (the figure has been placed as high as 700,000), the density of Indian population in California was three or four times greater than for the nation as a whole. The relative density was even greater than indicated, for the California Indians were highly concentrated in limited areas of settlement in the state. They were not distributed randomly, but clung to the main watercourses, the valleys or their edges, and the open canyon areas. Each particular Indian grouping had its area of settlement to which the members of the group were devoted as they were to nothing else in their culture.

Like the Californians of today, the California Indians were a highly heterogeneous lot. Some 22 linguistic systems and 138 different idioms have been recorded. Lacking definite tribal organizations, the Indians were scattered in small land-owning politically autonomous groups. Each group had a chief of a sort, but hereditary priests were unknown. Such social organization as existed was extremely rudimentary in character. So far as political organization was concerned, the small settlement or rancheria, made up of 130 or 150 Indians—usually of related families—was about the most comprehensive unit that existed. While the Indian settlements were scattered, they were, as Dr. S. F. Cook has pointed out, "spaced very exactly in conformity with the food supply." Despite the primitive stage of their culture, the California Indians had not been declining in numbers prior to the Spanish explorations and settlement; on the contrary, they had apparently achieved a stable relationship with their environment.

In general, the distribution of Indians in Southern California followed the pattern of population distribution today. In the region south of Tehachapi were seven groupings, some known by their native names, others by the name of the Mission with which they were later associated. The northernmost group, the Chumash, occupied three of the Santa Barbara or Channel Islands, and the coastal region of Santa Barbara. The first California Indians discovered by Cabrillo in 1542, they were the most highly developed of the Southern California groups. All of the Chumash Indians, with an estimated population of 10,000, were involved in the activities of the five Missions later established in their territory: San Buenaventura, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, La Purisima Concepcion, and San Luis Obispo.

Farther south were several Indian groups whose language was Shoshonean in origin: the Serrano or "those of the Sierras," located in the San Bernardino Mountains and the lowlands of the San Bernardino Valley; the Gabrielino, occupying Los Angeles County south of the Sierra Madre, half of Orange County, and two of the Channel Islands (Santa Catalina and San Clemente); and still farther south along the coast, the Luiseno. The Serranos and the Gabrielino were associated with the Mission San Gabriel; the Luiseno with the Mission San Luis Rey. Wedged in between the Gabrielino and the Luiseno were the Juaneo Indians, named after the Mission San Juan Capistrano. In the inland basin between the San Bernardino Mountains and Mt. San Jacinto were the Cahuilla Indians, separated into three groups known as desert, pass, and mountain Cahuilla. Since they remained outside the scope of Mission activity, the Cahuilla Indians survived in larger numbers than the other Southern California groups. In the area around San Diego were the San Diegueno Indians (named after the Mission San Diego), a Yuman tribe, living in a territory bounded on the west by the ocean, on the north by the country of the Luiseno and the Cahuilla, and with no very precise eastern or southern boundary.

In pre-Spanish times, the region south of Tehachapi constituted a fairly distinct cultural province. While this southern cultural province is generally regarded by anthropologists as an offshoot of the Pueblo culture of the Southwest, some trans-Pacific influences have been noted among the Indians along the coast. For example, the cosmogony of the Luiseno and Gabrielino contained some influences regarded by Kroeber as being Polynesian in character, while the Gabrielino and the Chumash had shell fishhooks distinctly Micronesian in form.

Admittedly the culture of these Southern California Indians was primitive in character. They had no agriculture. Their calendar was extremely crude. Their art-forms were limited in number and elementary in design, with basketry being their most developed art (there was only a little pottery). Partly maritime, the Chumash Indians crossed the Santa Barbara Channel to the islands in canoes of marvelous construction, moving so swiftly on the waters "that they seemed to fly." Miguel Constano, an engineer who accompanied Portola in 1769, noted that the Channel Island Indians worked "handsome trays of wood, with fine inlays of coral or bone," and commented upon their considerable mechanical ability. Money, in the form of shells and a disk bead, was known. Among the Southern California Indians, warfare was virtually unknown and slavery was not practiced. Although they had no intoxicating drink, they smoked a wild tobacco. Marriage was generally by purchase, but prostitution, as such, was unknown. The women wore a two-piece apron of buckskin, shredded bark, or other plant fiber, "while the manly fashion was to go naked."

South of Tehachapi, sandals replaced moccasins. The shelters were brush-covered or made of earth and were of the one-family type. Since they were not nomadic, the Indians were reported by the Spanish to be "docile and obedient." A universal institution was the sweat-house or temescal. The most common archaeological specimen in Southern California is the stone grinding bowl or mortar, used in grinding acorns. A simple bow and a throwing stick were the principal hunting weapons. While large game was not hunted and agriculture was unknown, an adequate food supply existed. Acorns were the staple item, but herbs, grass seeds, fish, rabbits, small game, snakes, grasshoppers, snails, and slugs were also part of the diet. A drum-less region, the rattle was the principal noise-maker. Invariably referred to in the early chronicles as filthy and degraded, it is nevertheless apparent from these same records that the Southern California Indians, particularly the women, were not wholly unattractive. Jose Longinos Martinez, in his journal of 1792, wrote that the women dressed their hair with great taste. "This dressing or coiffure," he noted, "makes the women graceful in their air and neat, and gives them some attraction for the Spaniards." It is interesting to observe that the earlier the record or chronicle, the more attractively the Indian is portrayed.

The backward character of the culture of these Indians was to be explained, as Dr. Caughey has pointed out, in terms of the physical facts of the province rather than in terms of the degraded character of the Indian. California was isolated by mountain ranges and a vast stretch of desert from the more advanced Indian tribes. While its resources were unlimited, they were of such a nature that they could not be unlocked except by an advanced technology. To indicate the degree of isolation which prevailed, Dr. Caughey points out that "although the Spaniards had been settled in Mexico for 250 years and in New Mexico for 170 years, not a single Spanish culture trait seems to have penetrated to California before the coming of settlers in 1769." Prior to the coming of the colonists, the Southern California Indians lived in small islands of settlement in a region that was itself an island on the land.

In southern California proper, that is from the Tehachapi along the northern edge of the Sierra Madre and San Bernardino ranges, south through Palm Springs and along the present San Diego Imperial County line, there were approximately 30,000 Indians when the Franciscans arrived in 1769. Beginning with San Diego in 1769, Missions were established in the region as follows: San Gabriel, 1771; San Juan Capistrano, 1776; San Buenaventura, 1782; San Fernando, 1797; San Luis Rey, 1798; La Purisima Concepcion, 1787; and Santa Ynez, 1804. Virtually all of the Indians in the region were Missionized, since, in this one region of California, the areas of Mission settlement were coterminous with the areas of Indian occupancy. Due to this circumstance and to the fact that the Mission system was more firmly rooted in Southern California than elsewhere in the state, the practice developed, in later years, of referring to the Southern California Indians, in the aggregate, as "The Mission Indians," a practice still followed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

With Mission rule extending throughout most of Southern California, only a few Indians in the region escaped the consequences of Missionization. Since the Spanish and Mexican influence did not extend east of the San Jacinto Mountains, the Cahuillas were spared the contamination which contact with Christianity involved for the other groups. Primarily because they survived in considerable numbers, they came to have, in later years, some military importance and were utilized by the Mexicans as a kind of auxiliary force. Although San Diego was the first Mission established in California, the Franciscans made only slight headway among the Dieguenos, a people described by Kroeber as "proud, rancorous, boastful, covetous, and hard to handle." In the first year of its existence, the Mission made not a single convert, and, in the first five years of its existence, less than a hundred neophytes were enrolled. Whenever the Franciscans seemed to be making too much progress, the Diegueno chieftains would engage in overt acts of hostility or would simply move their people a greater distance from the Mission. It was not until fifty years after its establishment that the San Diego Mission succeeded in baptizing any considerable number of Dieguenos. On two occasions, they rebelled, giving as a reason their desire "to live as they did before." As a consequence of their resistance, the Dieguenos survived better than the other Mission groups.

Since Southern California was the area of most intensive Mission activity among Indians, it is interesting to note the consequences of Missionization. From a total of 30,000 in 1769, the number of Indians in Southern California declined to approximately 1,250 by 1910. The seeds of this decline were sown by the Franciscans. For the thoroughly Missionized Indians, such as the Chumash, the Gabrielino, the Luiseno, and the Juaneno are, today, wholly extinct; while the groups having the least contact with the Missions, such as the Cahuilla and the Diegueno, are the only groups to have survived even in limited numbers. In fact, the survival of Indians was in inverse ratio to their contact with the Missions. So far as the Indian was concerned, contact with the Missions meant death.


With the best theological intentions in the world, the Franciscan padres eliminated Indians with the effectiveness of Nazis operating concentration camps. From 1776 to 1834, they baptized 4,404 Indians in the Mission San Juan Capistrano and buried 3,227; while in the Mission Santa Ynez they did somewhat better, having baptized 757 and buried 519. In not a single Mission did the number of Indian births equal the number of Indian deaths. During the entire period of Mission rule, from 1769 to 1834, the Franciscans baptized 53,600 adult Indians and buried 37,000. The mortality rates were so high that the Missions were constantly dependent upon new conversions to maintain the neophyte population which never, at any period, exceeded the peak figure of 20,300 reached in 1805. So far as the Indians were concerned, the chain of Missions along the coast might best be described as a series of picturesque charnel houses. For it was the Mission experience, rather than any contact with Spanish culture, that produced this frightful toll of Indian life. During the same period from 1769 to 1834, the "wild" or gentile Indians did not decline in numbers. Throughout Central and South America, the Spanish system of colonization, based upon the Mission, the pueblo, and the presidio, had not worked such a catastrophic decline in native population. Why were its effects so disastrous in California?

When the Spanish system of colonization was applied in California, it had to be modified in a number of respects. Since the California Indians did not live in large and stable communities, it was impossible to bring the faith to them; they had to be brought to the faith. The process of removing the Indians from their small rancherias and herding them into well-guarded Mission compounds resulted in a complete disruption of the native culture. Once the Indians were assembled in large numbers in the Missions, they had to be strictly regimented and the problem of discipline immediately became a serious one. From the moment of conversion, the neophyte became a slave; he belonged thereafter to the particular Mission. As a slave, of course, he had to be protected from contact with the unconverted. Thus a sharp wedge was driven between "converted" or neophyte Indians and the "wild" or gentile Indians. Once baptized the neophytes immediately lost caste with their people and were denied contact with the vital sources of their native culture. As soon as they were removed into the Mission compounds, "a strange lethargy and inaction" seemed to possess them. Elsewhere in the Spanish settlements in the New World, Indian life was permitted to evolve from its established patterns; but, in California, a different policy had to be adopted. Since the California Indians had so little in the way of economic organization, it was impossible to superimpose the religious faith and the military rule of the Spaniards upon the native society. For the Indian settlements could not support the colonists. It became necessary, therefore, to transform the neophyte completely, to teach him the rudiments of civilization, to make him learn the ways of a new culture.

During the first twenty years of the Mission period, the Franciscans used little compulsion in securing converts. Indians were attracted into the Missions by gifts of food, colored beads, bits of bright cloth, and trinkets. At the same time, a skillful use was made of ceremonies, rituals, music, processions, and pageants to stimulate the curiosity of the Indians and to lure them into the Mission compounds. At first they came voluntarily, prompted in part by curiosity and in part by cupidity, from the areas within a few miles of the Missions. As the number of neophyte deaths began to increase, however, Indians developed a mortal fear of the Missions. Thus to maintain the neophyte population the area of recruitment had to be enlarged and new methods devised. "Mild, sober exposition of the beauties of Christianity," as Dr. Cook notes, "and the charms of Mission life no longer sufficed."

Conquest and impression, rather than enticement and exegesis, became established Mission practices after 1800. As long as converts came from the same village, they spoke the same language, had more or less the same background, and possessed similar cultural traits.

But, as the radius of conversion expanded, Indians were brought in from diverse and distant villages, intensifying the difficulties of administration and requiring increasingly severe methods of discipline. The greater the distance between Mission and native village, the more homesick the Indian became, with the number of fugitives and apostates increasing in direct relation to the expanding area of conversion. With the increase of fugitivism and apostasy, large-scale military expeditions had to be organized to round up the escaped neophytes. The farther these expeditions penetrated into gentile territory, the more resistance they encountered.

On occasion the Franciscans permitted neophytes to escape, or "to visit," their villages, so that an expedition might be organized to follow them; in the process of capturing the fugitives, a dozen or more new "Christians" could be rounded up. In this manner, as many as two and three hundred Indians would be captured in a single raid. "On one occasion," writes Hugo Reid, "they went as far as the present Rancho del Chino, where they tied and whipped every man, woman and child in the lodge, and drove part of them back.... On the road they did the same with those of the lodge at San Jose. On arriving home the men were instructed to throw their bows and arrows at the feet of the priest, and make due submission. The infants were then baptized, as were also all children under eight years of age; the former were left with their mothers, but the latter kept apart from all communication with their parents. The consequence was, first, the women consented to the rite and received it, for the love they bore their children; and finally the males gave way for the purpose of enjoying once more the society of wife and family. Marriage was then performed, and so this contaminated race, in their own sight and that of their kindred, became followers of Christ."

To understand what conversion meant to the Indian, it should be remembered that the process of Missionization necessitated a sudden transition from the settled, customary existence of the Indian in a small rancheria or village to the almost urban conditions that prevailed in the larger Mission establishments. This change, as Dr. Cook points out, must have come as a deep mental shock to the Indian. For example, the young female neophytes, who were regarded as nuns, were herded into a kind of barrack or compound, called the monjerio, where they were kept under the closest surveillance and confinement. One learns from the chronicles that the typical monjerio was 17 yards long and 7 yards wide and that it was usually constructed of adobe brick, with bunks ranged around the walls. The only ventilation came from a single high window, while, in the center of the room, was an improvised sewer or latrine. The stench and filth of these barracks were noted by all observers.

From 1769 to 1833, 29,100 Indian births were recorded in the Missions of California, and 62,600 deaths, the excess of deaths over births being 33,500. Of this decline, Dr. Cook estimates that 15,250 or 45% of the population decrease was caused by disease. Two epidemics of measles, one in 1806 and the other in 1828, took a heavy toll of neophyte lives. Within the first decade of Mission rule, syphilis appeared throughout the province. Despite the injunctions of officers and priests, the scrofulous Spanish soldiery spread the disease among both the gentile and neophyte Indian women. From the outset of settlement, the military guards at the Missions, in the words of one observer, were "generously infected with disease." Another observer pointed out that the neophytes were ''permeated to the marrow of their bones with venereal disease, such that many of the newly born show immediately this, the only patrimony they receive from their parents, and for which reason three-quarters of the infants die in their first or second year, and of the other quarter which survive, most fail to reach their twenty-fifth year." Syphilis became, in fact, "a totalitarian disease, universally incident" among the neophytes.

The condition of the diseased neophytes was, of course, aggravated by other factors. In the Missions, they were herded together in large groups. The sanitation was wretched; the diet inadequate. From 1776 to 1825, there was only one qualified physician in all Alta California. Most of the filthy practices which later observers noted among the Indians, were practices which they had learned or acquired in the Missions. "The unsanitary condition of the Indian Villages at some of the Missions," wrote J. M. Guinn, "was as fatal as Indian war. In his native state, the Indian could burn a village and move on; but the adobe houses that took the place of the brush hovels could not be burned to purify them."

Believing that the possession of finery had a tendency to induce the Indians to run away, the padres clothed them in a coarse frieze (xerga), made at the Missions, which, as Hugo Reid observed, "kept the poor wretches all the time diseased with the itch." Meals were ladled out to the neophytes, never served, and consisted of atole (a gruel made of boiling ground corn, wheat, or barley) for breakfast, and pozole (a stew of barley, beans, squash, and chili) for the other meals. Fresh vegetables, milk, and meat were not generally served the Indians, although the Franciscans provided a bounteous table for themselves and for their visitors. It has been suggested, by well-informed observers, that the neophytes were kept in a state of chronic undernourishment in order to retard the tendency to fugitivism.

During the period of Mexican rule after 1822, the governors of the province repeatedly pointed out, in their reports, that the food allotments in the Missions were insufficient to support life, much less to enable the Indians to perform the labors required of them. Although the neophytes were able to get some accessory food supplies from native sources, Dr. Cook states that "the Indians as a whole lived continuously on the verge of clinical deficiency." Certainly the materials so laboriously collected by Dr. Cook conclusively refute the impression of abundance and liberality, or an easy-going pastoral existence, which has colored most of the writing about the Missions.

While the tasks assigned the neophytes were not particularly arduous—consisting of the type of work traditionally associated with a primitive agriculture and home industry—still they can hardly be characterized as light or inconsequential. The work-day was from "six in the morning until almost sunset." Since the policy of the Franciscans was to keep the neophytes constantly occupied, the tempo of work was intentionally kept at an easy pace. The same policy has, of course, always characterized most forced-labor systems. With a limited number of soldiers on hand, the Franciscans always had difficulty in minimizing the number of fugitives, which consistently averaged about 12% of the neophyte population. As a consequence, they did not insist upon strenuous exertion. But as the range of Mission enterprises expanded, the whip began to be cracked. "If the Indian would not work," writes C. D. Willard, "he was starved and flogged. If he ran away he was pursued and brought back." If a neophyte deserted from one Mission to another, he was immediately arrested, flogged, and kept in irons until he could be returned to the Mission to which he belonged, where, on arrival, he was again flogged. "If they stowed themselves away in any of the rancherias," writes Hugo Reid, "the soldiers were monthly in the habit of visiting them; and such was the punishment upon those who attempted to conceal them, that it was rarely essayed. Being so proscribed, the only alternative left them was to take to the mountains, where they lived as they best could, making occasional inroads on the mission property to maintain themselves. They were styled heydays, or runaways, and at times were rendered desperate through pursuit, and took the lives of any suspected of being traitors."

The major abuse of the forced-labor system developed, however, when the Franciscans began to assign neophytes to the presidios and to farm them out as servants to the worthless Spanish soldiers. The easy conquest of the natives had bred in these soldiers a deep contempt for the Indian. Each presidio was provided with a tract of land, el rancho del rey, which served as a pasture for the presidio livestock and as a source of provender for the soldiers. Theoretically the soldiers were supposed to perform all work required for the maintenance of the King's farm, but the close proximity of the domesticated Indians effectively discouraged the idea of manual labor. At an early date, Father Salazar reported that the soldiers and the colonists were a set of idlers. "For them," he wrote, "the Indian is errand-boy, vaquero, and a digger of ditches—in short, a general factotum." Within a few years, the neophytes were doing all the work on the presidio farm and, in addition, were serving as menials and domestics for the soldiers. While the fiction prevailed that neophytes were to receive wages, when farmed out to work in this manner, it is a matter of record that no attempt was made to collect wages for these services after 1790. It is also recorded that the neophytes performed these services "under unmitigated compulsion," for they loathed the soldiers and their bitterest complaints were directed at this type of forced-labor.

While the legend still prevails that the discipline of the Franciscans was "gentle and mild," the records abound with cases where infraction of rules occasioned the harshest punishment. Interestingly enough, most of the offenses recorded were political in character, such as attempts to rebel or to escape from the Mission system. In a sample of offenses committed by the neophytes, Dr. Cook found that 70% of the offenders received corporal punishment. Numerous instances were recorded of floggings of fifty to a hundred lashes. Fetters, shackles, and the stocks were commonly used as disciplinary measures. Referring to Father Zalvidea of the Mission San Gabriel, Hugo Reid wrote that "he must assuredly have considered whipping as meat and drink to the Indians, for they had it morning, noon and night." In 1783 the able Governor Fages filed a bitter complaint against Father Junipero Serra—the sainted figure of California legend—for the excessive punishment he had meted out to neophytes. On coming to California, the first impression of Governor Borica was one of "amazement and aversion" at the treatment of the neophytes.

Small wonder, then, that the Indians should have detested the Missions. On two occasions, major insurrections were attempted. Additional evidence of their hatred of the Missions is to be found in the long lists of fugitives and in the growth of the practice of abortion and infanticide. While the Indians had been known to practice abortion and infanticide before the Missions were established, both practices swiftly developed, as Dr. Cook puts it, "from occasional, sporadic cultural items into a serious, although primitive and haphazard attempt to check the population growth through birth control." So prevalent was the practice of abortion, that miscarriages were punished as criminal offenses. The penalty prescribed by Father Zalvidea for the Indian woman who had suffered a miscarriage consisted in "shaving the head, flogging for fifteen subsequent days, iron on the feet for three months, and having to appear every Sunday in church, on the steps leading up to the altar, with a hideous painted wooden child in her arms."

Not only was Mission existence a nightmare for the Indians, but it is exceedingly difficult to see how they profited by the experience to the slightest degree. While the children raised in the Missions did learn some Spanish, the adults probably never acquired more than the phrase "Amar a Dios." "The padres," wrote J. M. Guinn, "were opposed to educating the natives for the same reason that southern slaveholders were opposed to educating the Negro, namely, that an ignorant people were more easily kept in subjection." For much the same reason, the Franciscans sought to prevent equestrianism. Governor Sola, in a report of 1818, complained that "the neophytes as well as the wild Indians were becoming too expert horsemen." It was only after 1825 that a few of the specially trusted neophytes were permitted to become vaqueros. To be sure, some of the Indians did acquire skills and trades, but, in general, the Mission system failed to prepare the neophytes for existence outside their native culture and, at the same time, the native culture was systematically disorganized.

For while the neophytes were permitted to retain some of their native cultural practices, such as their songs, dances, and games, no such latitude could be tolerated in the crucial matter of religious faith. From the Franciscan point of view, as Dr. Cook points out, it was "vitally necessary to extirpate those individual beliefs and tribal customs which in any way whatever conflicted with the Christian religion." Witchcraft and shamanism were vigorously opposed as thousands of neophytes were compelled to accept, or outwardly observe, the Christian faith. Not infrequently methods of extreme compulsion were used to secure observance of the mere forms of this faith. Alfred Robinson, a reliable observer, wrote that "it is not unusual to see numbers of Indians driven along by the alcaldes, and under the whip's lash forced to the very door of the sanctuary." Hugo Reid, another excellent observer, reported that the neophytes "had no more idea that they were worshiping God than an unborn child has of astronomy." Despite the intensive moral suasion and pressure applied by the Franciscans, Dr. Cook has concluded that "the Indians retained the basic pattern of their culture intrinsically unaltered." In the matter of religious faith, they even won an adaptational success, for they proceeded to adopt the forms of Christianity while retaining the substance of their native belief.

Since the native culture conflicted so sharply with the culture which the Franciscans sought to impose upon them, it is not surprising that the neophytes developed a dual set of values. Their native notions of morality, property rights, and sexual behavior did not, of course, square with the concepts which the padres so diligently sought to cultivate. Out of this conflict came the moral ambivalence which Spaniards, Mexicans, and Americans alike attributed to innate depravity and inferiority. The proverbial "laziness" of the Indian sprang from the fact that he was used to a system of intermittent rather than regularized labor, a system premised upon the seasonal quest for food in a non-agricultural culture. Even the "filthiness" of the Indian was, in large part, a by-product of cultural conflict. For the Franciscans frowned upon the Indian's addiction to the or "sweat-house," and, in the Mission, the neophyte was not permitted to burn his dwelling, as he had long burned his brush shacks, as a sanitary measure. The shrewdest observer of Indians among the Franciscans, Father Geronimo Boscana, noted that the neophytes merely imitated the forms which they were supposed to assimilate. Their reluctance to assimilate the substance of the cultural instruction of the Franciscans was attributed, however, even by Father Boscana, to "their corrupt and natural disposition."

In the relatively brief period of Mission rule, that is, from 1769 to 1832, the number of Indians in California declined from 130,000 to 83,000: a decline of about 57,000. Occurring almost entirely in the neophyte group, this decline in population alone refutes the elaborate myth which has been so diligently cultivated in California about the Mission system, its benevolence, its social efficiency, its tutorial excellence. About all that can be said for the system, in truth, is that, over a much longer period of time, the Indian population might have been stabilized at a lower level, as immunity against disease developed and the process of acculturation became operative.


Under the Spanish scheme of colonization, the Missions were never intended as permanent settlements. As originally planned, each Mission was to be converted into a civil community within a decade after its establishment, by which time, so it was reasoned, the tutelage of the Indians would have been completed. The Franciscans did not hold title to the Mission lands as grants from the Crown; they merely enjoyed a right of use and occupancy at the pleasure of the government. Theoretically they were trustees for the Indian neophytes, upon whom title to the Mission lands and properties was eventually to devolve.

Although secularization of the Missions had been contemplated as early as 1813, the first proclamation on the subject was issued by Governor Figueroa on August 9, 1834. This proclamation provided for the secularization of ten Missions (six additional Missions were secularized in 1836). By the terms of the proclamation, half of the property of the ten Missions was to be turned over to the Indians, although the neophytes were still required to work on essential community enterprises and were not allowed to alienate their interests. The scheme of secularization worked out by Figueroa—one of the ablest Mexican governors—was well conceived in theory. The Governor expressly provided that the terms of the secularization decree were to be explained to the Indians "with suavity and patience."

By 1834, however, the Missions had become exceedingly rich, their lands and holdings being valued at $78,000,000. At the peak of its activities, the Mission San Gabriel, for example, operated 17 extensive ranchos and owned 3,000 Indians, 105,000 head of cattle, 20,000 horses, and 40,000 sheep. The pressure to plunder these estates soon became much stronger than the capacity or willingness of the weak Mexican government to enforce the secularization decrees. As a consequence, the laudable scheme of secularization degenerated into a mad scramble to loot the Missions. Faced with the possibility of war with the United States, Governor Micheltorana ordered the disposal of the remaining Mission properties in 1844, by which time all semblance of adherence to the plan of secularization had been abandoned.

Angered by the secularization decrees, the Franciscans effectively sabotaged the original plan by inviting the colonists and the Indians to help themselves to the Mission properties. Thousands of head of Mission cattle were driven away, horse herds were raided, warehouses were looted. Learning in advance the date fixed for the secularization of particular Missions, the Franciscans gave orders, according to Alfred Robinson, "for the immediate slaughter of their cattle; contracts were made, with individuals, to kill the cattle and divide the proceeds with the Missions." Thousands of head of cattle were slaughtered merely for their hides, with the contractors withholding half the proceeds received from the sales. No longer responsible to the Franciscans, the Indians proceeded to take part in the general looting and plundering. Most of the plundering, however, was done by the so-called Spanish Dons. "What is most astonishing," wrote Robinson, "is why the Indian does not take example from his Mexican brethren and like them kill and plunder." In such a mad scramble for wealth and booty, it is not surprising that the theoretical right of the Indians to the Mission lands and properties, or to the proceeds, went completely by the board. Formerly slaves, they now became demoralized paupers.

With the secularization of the Missions, "the rancho period" began in California. From 1769 to 1822, the Spanish had made only about twenty large land grants in the province, but, in the period from 1833 to 1846, over 500 large grants were handed out. As the threat of American intervention became increasingly imminent, the provincial governors showered their favorites with princely grants. Many of these large grants were carved out of properties expropriated from the Missions or from the ranches operated by the Missions. In many cases, they were stocked with horses, sheep, and cattle purchased from the Missions or simply appropriated at the time of secularization. By the time the last secularization decrees had been issued, California had begun to assume a feudal aspect. By the end of 1845, all the Southern California Missions had been sold or their properties leased, and extensive ranchos, with vast herds of cattle and horses, operated by thousands of Indian retainers, had replaced the Mission establishments.

During this period of shameful fraud and pillage, the neophyte Indians began to abandon the Missions. In 1833 the Mission San Juan Capistrano had 861 neophytes, but, by 1838, only 80 remained at the Mission. Hundreds of Indians crossed over the mountain ranges and sought refuge with the "wild" tribes of the San Joaquin Valley, while others simply fled to the mountains and the desert. The bewildered neophytes lucklessly remaining in the vicinity of the Missions were promptly kidnaped by the newly rich rancheros and used as peon laborers. Cut adrift from the Missions without resources, hundreds of neophytes moved into the towns and pueblos, notably Los Angeles, where, between brief periods of employment, they gathered around the grog shops in droves. The few who remained about the Missions were eventually evicted from lands to which they had both a theoretical title and a possessory right based upon long use and occupancy. Wherever Indian settlements were included within the boundaries of a land grant, it was the duty of the courts to confirm their right of occupancy, but this duty was never performed. After the American conquest, the holders of these grants relied upon Mexican law to confirm their titles and then proceeded, in reliance upon American common law, to evict the Indian squatters. Since the Indian was neither a citizen nor an alien under American law, and was not even eligible for naturalization between 1846 and 1884, there was no means by which he could acquire title to land, and by the time an allotment policy had been adopted for Indians, all the public lands in California which were of any agricultural value had long since passed into private ownership.

Prior to the American conquest, three labor systems had existed in California: the communal forced-labor of the Missions, peonage, and, to a limited extent, free labor. After the Missions were established, a few civilian colonists were imported from Mexico to Alta California. These original colonists, the lowly pobladores, relied on Indian labor only to a minor extent, as their agricultural operations were extremely limited. Over a period of years, however, a class of settlers known as the gente de razon—the people of quality—began to appear in California. It was these settlers who imported the hacienda system from Mexico, a system which, as Dr. Cook notes, became "thoroughly impressed upon the social thought of the state." The hacienda system was, of course, explicitly premised upon the concept of peon labor.

Since most of the neophyte labor was originally employed at the Missions, settlers on the large grants were given permission to recruit wild or gentile Indians. In some cases, neophytes were farmed out to the rancheros, primarily as vaqueros and house servants, with most of the unskilled labor being performed by gentile Indians. By 1848 the kidnaping of wild Indians, for employment on the ranchos, had become a major industry in California. "Our friendly Indians," as one ranchero put it, "tilled our soil, pastured our cattle, sheared our sheep, cut our timber, built our houses, paddled our boats, made tiles for our homes, ground our grain, slaughtered our cattle, dressed their hides for market, and made unburnt bricks; while the Indian women made excellent servants, took care of our children, and made every one of our meals." By 1848, 5,000 Indians were thus employed on the great ranchos.

Paid a fathom of black, red, and white glass beads for a season's work, these Indian peons were, as Don Juan Bandini said, "the working arms which made it possible to carry out agricultural and other projects and to provide necessities." After the secularization of the Missions, the supply of Indian labor was greatly augmented, for the neophytes were regarded as part of the general plunder to be obtained. Although slavery had been abolished in Mexico in 1829, peonage continued to be practiced in California. "Before the Indian could move about," writes Dr. Varden Fuller, "he was required to have a properly signed discharge showing that he was not in debt to his employer.... In some instances, the Indians were encouraged to work by the promise of a given rate of wages, only to be turned away at the end of the season with no more remuneration than subsistence.... Thus a range of devices of varying degrees of harshness was used to assemble the Indian labor supply; and in conjunction with those of a milder nature it appears that outright seizure and force were not unimportant."

Like most social changes in California, the transition from Mission to rancho was effected with uncommon rapidity and remarkable thoroughness. By 1848 the Mission system had been completely liquidated. Later the Supreme Court ruled that the Mexican governors and the administrators appointed to take charge of the Mission properties lacked authority to dispose of the church buildings, the homes of the priests, and lands to an extent of a few acres surrounding each of the twenty-one Missions. Eventually this moiety of the Mission estate was returned to the Archbishop of California; otherwise nothing remained of the Mission system, except, perhaps, its heritage of disaster for the Indian. During the period of secularization, the Indian population of California declined from 83,000 to 72,000, a decline of about 700 a year by comparison with a decline of about 900 a year during the Mission period.


While much of the damage to Indian life in California had been caused prior to the American conquest, still the relative impact of Anglo settlement was about three times as severe as that of Spanish and Mexican settlement. At the time of the conquest, there were still about 72,000 Indians in California, including the remnants of the neophyte or Mission Indians. By 1865 the total had been reduced to 23,000, and by 1880 to 15,000.

In effect, the Indians of California were ground to pieces between two invasions: the Spanish from the south up the coast, and the Anglos from the east and north across the mountains and over the desert. The two invasions were characterized by sharp differences in policy and practice. Under the Spanish system, at least in theory, the Indian was permitted to retain his primitive social institutions and customs. He could testify in the courts, his life was sacred, and he could own and acquire property. Through long association with Spaniards and Mexicans, the Indian had taken over a few items of their culture and had incorporated these items, either intact or in a modified form, into his native culture. But under the impact of the Anglo invasion which began in 1848, all that was left of his culture went to pieces at one blow. "Indian life," wrote Stephen Powers in a government report of 1877, "burst into air by the suddenness and fierceness of the attack.... Never before in history has a people been swept away with such terrible swiftness."

American settlers came to California with two centuries of Indian warfare behind them. The Indian had no rights that the white man was bound to respect. If the Americans had a policy, it was to extirpate Indian culture, not to transform it. The Spaniards had planned on retaining the Indian population. They had even encouraged intermarriage. But the Anglos contemplated the obliteration of the Indian. The Spanish policy was to regard the Indian as a potential economic asset, but, under American rule, he was regarded as a liability to be liquidated as rapidly as possible.

Engineered by a small caste or group, the Spanish invasion was limited in character. The entire coastal portion of California had been occupied by less than a hundred Spaniards and as late as 1846 the entire "white" population of the state did not exceed 5,000 by comparison with an Indian population of 72,000. But the Anglo invasion was not so much an invasion as an inundation. Under the period of Spanish-Mexican rule, the ratio of non-Indians to Indians was one to ten; under the American rule it quickly became ten to one. Since the Spanish invasion had been along the coast, the hinterland area had been left as a kind of Indian territory. But the Anglo invasion came from the east so that the first contact Anglos had with Indians in California was with the wild or gentile group. Thus Indians fleeing to the mountains and deserts encountered miners and mountain men coming from the east. Since there were no settled Indian tribes in California, a formal Indian frontier never existed. Invading from the east, the Anglos quickly infiltrated the areas which Indians still occupied in the state. As one early pioneer wrote, "Here we have not only Indians on our frontiers, but all among us, around us, with us. There is hardly a farm house without them. And where is the line to be drawn between those who are domesticated and the frontier savages? Nowhere—it cannot be found. Our white population pervades the entire state, and Indians are with them everywhere."

By settling along the coast, the Spaniards had not interfered greatly with the aboriginal sources of food supply. But an entirely different situation existed after the American conquest. Invading from the east, the Anglos drove the Indians from their fisheries and acorn groves, destroyed the supply of fish by muddying and polluting the rivers and creeks, and, in raids on Indian villages, destroyed food supplies which had been laboriously accumulated. The Anglo settlers wanted, of course, the fertile valleys and the rich cotton lands, and from these the Indians were promptly driven. But as the Anglo invasion spread, cattle, sheep and hogs began to make inroads on the Indians' supply of acorns, seeds, and green plants. When the Indians retaliated with raids on cattle, they were promptly visited by punitive expeditions. In less than two years after its establishment, the new state of California had incurred an indebtedness of over one million dollars in fighting Indians. It is estimated that, in about a hundred Indian "affairs," or raids, some 15,000 Indians were killed in the period from 1848 to 1865.

Although peonage was abolished after 1848, the shrewd Anglos were quick to appreciate the merits of the system. The first California legislature proceeded, in fact, to enact three measures designed to preserve the substance, if not the form, of peonage. One of these statutes provided that Indians could not testify in court (it was not until 1872 that an Indian could even file suit in the American courts); another provided that Indians might be declared vagrants upon the petition of a white person; and a third measure established a system of "indenture apprentices," under which minors, with the "consent" of their parents, might be farmed out as apprentices for a term of years. The first of these measures created, in effect, an open season on Indians in California. An Indian could be shot for any minor infraction of the white code, such as speaking out of turn, getting in the way, or demanding payment of wages. (Dr. Cook has documented 265 cases of these so-called "social homicides.") The indentured apprentice law merely rationalized the old Spanish custom of kidnaping Indian children as peons. Between 1852 and 1867, Dr. Cook estimates that 4,000 Indian children were taken from their parents and apprenticed to various employers under this statute. "The habit of stealing Indian children and selling them to Mexican rancheros in Southern California," observed the Butte Record of May 23, 1857, "is being abused."

Under the impact of the Anglo invasion, the whole fabric of Indian life, already weakened by the Mission system, completely disintegrated. While the toll of disease had been heavy enough under Mission-Mexican rule, it became still heavier after the arrival of- the Americans. American settlers invaded the remaining rancherias, or native villages, teaching the men to gamble and to steal, and teaching the women, as Hugo Reid put it, "to be worse than they were." After 1848 prostitution became an established trade for Indian women in California. The old Spanish custom of raping Indian "squaws" became an established Yankee practice. The family life of the Indians was completely disrupted. According to the indefatigable Dr. Cook, some 12,000 Indian women became the concubines of white settlers. As the half-breed population increased, the half-breeds were automatically assigned to the Indian nether world and became the objects of a special loathing and disdain. Defeated in his initial resistance, his passion for revenge frustrated, the Indian was forced back, as Dr. Cook states, "to a silent, ineradicable, suppressed animosity, against all things American which was not forgotten long after other wrongs had passed into oblivion." It was this undercurrent of resentment which precluded even the thought of assimilation.

With the breakup of the great landed estates after 1848, Indian peons were forced into the "free labor" market introduced by the Americans. While the neophytes had some preparation for this system, the gentile Indians had none. Under a free labor system, the Indian was hopelessly handicapped: he did not understand the language; he was unfamiliar with a monetary economy; and he could not understand the necessity for regularized labor. Unprepared to cope with the perils of this system, the Indian sank lower and lower in the social hierarchy of the times.

After the American conquest, hundreds of Indian peons began to leave the Indianolas, as the Indian villages on the ranchos were called, and to crowd into the towns of Southern California. All the principal towns had an Indian village known as the pueblito or little town. During the period of military conquest, these pueblitos were sinkholes of crime and the favorite resorts of dissolute characters, red and white. In 1852 there were 4,000 "whites" in Los Angeles and 3,700 "domesticated Indians." The Indians were crowded into a pueblito located near Aliso and First Streets which was later moved east of the Los Angeles River. This new village became so notorious that, after the arrival of American soldiers in 1847, it was destroyed by order of the military.

In the years from 1846 to 1870, Indians were widely employed in Southern California as domestics, as farm laborers, and for most of the unskilled jobs. "Employed," however, is scarcely the right term. "If ever an Indian was fully and honestly paid for his labor by a white settler," wrote J. Ross Browne, Inspector of Indian Affairs on the Pacific Coast, "it was not my luck to hear of it." When gold-mining operations were launched in the San Gabriel Mountains in 1855, the local annals mention that the work was performed by "gangs of Indians." With the vineyards becoming profitable after 1849, Indian labor was extensively used throughout Southern California. "Much of the work connected with the grape industry," writes Harris Newmark, "was done by Indians.... Stripped to the skin, and wearing only loin-cloths, they tramped with ceaseless tread from morn until night, pressing from the luscious fruit of the vineyard the juice so soon to ferment into wine."

During the grape season, hundreds of Indians would troop into Los Angeles every Saturday night after they had received their pay. "During Saturday night and all day Sunday," writes Newmark, "they drank themselves into hilarity and intoxication, and this dissipation lasted until Sunday night. Then they slept off their sprees and were ready to work Monday morning. During each period of excitement, from one to three or four revelers were murdered." The three grog shops maintained at the old Mission site in San Gabriel, according to Horace Bell, "did a smashing business—these devil's workshops being surrounded by a mass of drunken, howling Indians." By common practice, most of the Indian vineyard workers were paid in aguardiente or wine brandy.

"By four o'clock on Sunday afternoon," writes Bell, "Los Angeles Street from Commercial to Nigger Alley, Aliso Street from Los Angeles to Alameda, and Nigger Alley would be crowded with a mass of drunken Indians, yelling and fighting. Men and women, boys and girls, tooth and toe nail, sometimes, and frequently with knives, but always in a manner that would strike the beholder with awe and horror. About sundown the pompous marshal, with his Indian special deputies, who had been kept in jail all day to keep them sober, would drive and drag the herd to a big corral in the rear of the Downey Block, where they would sleep away their intoxication, and in the morning they would be exposed for sale, as slaves for the week.... They would be sold for a week, and bought up by the vineyard men and others at prices ranging from one to three dollars, one-third of which was to be paid to the peon at the end of the week, which debt, due for well performed labor, would invariably be paid in aguardiente, and the Indian would be happy until the following Monday morning.... Those thousands of honest, useful people were absolutely destroyed in this way. Vineyards were of great profit in those days."

After the arrival of the Chinese in the 'seventies, the Indians were driven from the towns to the outlying communities. When Ludwig Louis Salvator visited Los Angeles in 1876, he reported that most of the Indians were to be found living "like gypsies in brush huts," on outskirts of such settlements as Riverside and San Bernardino. Throughout the Southern California countryside these small settlements could be seen, with their huts made of reeds and straw with a framework of long poles. Working throughout the region as common laborers, Salvator noted that, as always, their diet consisted largely of native foods, such as acorns, clover, grass seeds, horse chestnuts, roots, and berries.

As late as 1860 the water overseer of Los Angeles was empowered by law to take out any Indians who might be in the calaboose and use them as workmen in repairing highways and bridges. Throughout the period after the American conquest, Indians were paid, when they were paid at all, one-half the going wage. Persons employing Indians as domestics were required, by ordinance, to keep them on the premises, and "those who could not show papers from the alcalde of the pueblo were to be treated as horse thieves and enemies." By 1880 '70s bravos Indios" had been virtually eliminated from the labor market. As the American settlements expanded, they were driven from the hinterland towns toward the mountains and the desert. In the census of 1860, San Bernardino reported 3,028 Indians, in 1870 none; San Diego had 3,067 in 1860, and only 28 in 1870. At the present time, 2,171 Indians are enrolled in the Mission Indian Agency of Southern California—the remnants of the 30,000 or more Indians who inhabited the region in 1769.


The Indian background has influenced the social structure of Southern California in a number of respects. In the first place, the presence of a large pool of Indian labor had a demoralizing effect upon the Hispanos. From 1769 to 1848, Indians performed virtually all manual labor operations in the Missions and on the ranchos. With such a large pool of cheap Indian labor at all times available, little incentive existed for the introduction of labor-saving devices or machinery. Visiting California in 1835, Markoff was impressed by the fact that there were "neither wind-mills nor water-mills." Since the Franciscans thought that the use of equipment and machinery would have a detrimental effect on the morale of the Indians, the Missions were essentially primitive in their methods and practices. Indian labor was so cheap, writes Dr. Fuller, "that it did not pay to build fences to protect the crops or to retain the livestock for they could be guarded at less expense than the fences could be built." Persons who revisited California on the eve of the American conquest noted that there had been virtually no improvement in agricultural methods during the prior two decades. The weakness of the Spanish-Mexican settlements in California consisted in their dependence on cheap Indian slave labor.

In the second place, the importation of the hacienda system to California was made possible by the presence of a large mass of Indian labor. "One is tempted," writes Dr. Cook, "to follow through the persistence of the forced-labor idea in subsequent years. It would be possible to show how the cheap labor market passed from the Indian to the Chinese and how the same rationale of peonage and compulsion was applied to the latter. One might then pass on to the new groups, each of which gradually replaced the other—the Italians of the 'eighties, the Mexicans and Filipinos of the early century, down to the 'Okies' of our time. Simultaneously, one could trace the rise of great agricultural interests, dependent upon masses of unskilled transient workers, which utilized these groups one after another." Closely related to this aspect of the matter is the growth, in the mores, of an arrogant attitude toward so-called "inferior" people. In fact, vestiges of the hacienda system can be found today throughout Southern California.

Both Indians and Mexicans are dark-skinned and there is, of course, a considerable amount of Indian blood in the Mexican people. Most of the Indians who survived the Anglo invasion in Southern California spoke some Spanish and, in any case, their command of Spanish was greater than their command of English. Most of them were nominally Catholic and remain Catholic to this day. After 1848 there was a tendency for Mexicans to be pushed down to the level of Indians and for the two statuses, the Indian and the Mexican, to merge. Momentarily the Indian had served as a buffer between Anglo and Hispano, but gradually the Anglo pressure shifted from the Indian to the Mexican as the Indians were eliminated. Soon the distinction, always shadowy, between Indian and Mexican was forgotten. The two terms began to be used interchangeably or jointly, as in such frequently encountered expressions as "a Mexican Indian woman." And as the Mexican-Indian traditions merged, the "Spanish" influence became exalted out of all relation to reality. Many of the people called "Mexican" today in Southern California are the descendants of Indian-Mexican parents. In 1876 Salvator remarked upon the number of Mexicans who had married Indian women. "The majority of present-day Californians," he wrote, and by Californians he meant Mexicans, "are the descendants of these marriages." Lost in this same general Indian-Mexican category are the half-breeds, the "cholos" and the "greasers," of the numerous Anglo-Indian alliances of the early period.

"There is no doubt," writes Dr. Cook, "that the Old Mission Indians have in their veins far more white blood than any other west-coast natives. This is due to the fact that they have been living among white people for a very long time and, second, to the fact that the particular branch of the white race with which they have been in contact, the Ibero-American, has always been socially well disposed toward miscegenation. From the earliest times, the Spanish intermarried freely and on a status of equality with the natives, and in more recent times the heavy immigration of Mexicans and other Latin Americans has provided a huge and convenient reservoir of potential spouses. One need only examine the names carried on the Mission Agency rolls and the names of the white men or women who have married Indians to appreciate the tremendous degree of racial fusion in Southern California between the Indian and the American of Spanish extraction." After all these years, therefore, a triangular fusion has taken place in the blood of the three races that first met in Southern California: the Indian, the Mexican (Spanish), and the Anglo.
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