“The scale of the genocide in California absolutely dwarfs anything that happened to the Great Plains Indians, and is even larger and more complete than the fate of the eastern indians.”
The largest act of genocide in American history!
“California was one of the last areas of the New World to be colonized.
It wasn’t until 1769 that the first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, was built in California at present-day San Diego. It was the first of 21 missions, which would become the primary means for the Spaniards to subjugate the natives. The leader of this effort was Franciscan friar Junípero Serra.
Despite whatever the movies portray, the missions were coercive religious, forced labor camps. Through bribes, military intimidation, and the eventual onslaught of European diseases (that usually targeted children), the colonizers ensured that eventually sick and desperate indians would come to the missions for help. That’s not to say that they intentionally spread diseases, but there was a consistent, two century long pattern.
The indians that wound up there had their children taken from them, and harsh, manual labor was the rule. Beatings and filthy living conditions were common. The death rate at the missions was appalling. By 1818 the percentage of Indians who died in the missions reached 86 percent. Over 81,000 indian “converts” eventually managed to successfully flee the missions.
Soon there were indian revolts.
The San Diego Mission was burnt down in 1775 during the Kumeyaay rebellion. Mohave Indians destroyed two mission in a dramatic revolt in 1781. Military efforts to punish these indians and reopen the route to the pueblas of New Mexico failed.
San Gabriel Mission indians revolted in 1785, and suffered because of it. The Santa Barbara and Santa Inez Missions were destroyed in the Chumash revolt of 1824. Some time after 1810 a large number of guerrilla bands arose that raided the missions and kept them in a virtual state of siege. This led to draconian laws to restrict the movement of indians and forced them to carry papers proving their employment.
In 1834, Mexican Governor Jose Figueroa freed the indians from the mission system and stripped the friars of their power. More than 100,000 indians had died because of the mission system, out of over 300,000 indians that lived in California before the Catholic church arrived.
But that didn’t mean that things returned to how it was before. The Spanish didn’t give the land back to the indians. Instead the land was distributed to political insiders, and a system of ranchos developed. By the start of the Mexican-American War, 26 million acres were controlled by just 813 ranchers.”