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¡§When the Okies left Oklahoma and moved to California, it raised the I

a Lasting Impact                                               Nishant Gotmare


Robert H. Jackson and Edward Castillo are borderland scholars teaching respectively at Texas Southern University and Sonoma State University. Castillo is a Cahuilla and Luiseño Indian. In his lectures and interviews, he bashes the government for its dislike of Indian casinos. Jackson has written other books on Native Americans, such as From Savages to Subjects: Missions in the History of the American Southwest (Latin American Realities).



Indians, Franciscans, and Spanish Colonization: The Impact of the Mission System on California Indians by Robert H. Jackson and Edward Castillo, is an ethnohistory book which examines the establishment of the Mission System by Franciscans in Alta California, and its effects on the lives of the numerous and distinct Native American tribes that lived in the region. Jackson and Castillo state that ¡§Columbus¡¦s voyage of discovery to the New World signified the beginning of complex processes of change among the native peoples encountered by Europeans in the Americas.¡¨1 From the very beginning, Spanish colonization of the Americas affected countless generations of Natives, and many times, the effect has left the Native population in ruins. Many rich civilizations in the Central America crumbled beneath the Spanish conquistadores, and it was destined to happen again, a few centuries later and on a smaller scale, in the region of Alta California. Between the years of 1769 and 1823, the Franciscans (members of the Catholic religious order) with the aid of the Spanish, established the Mission system in Alta California. Thousands of native Californian Indians were taken into Missions to be converted, and then put to work on the Mission lands. In this book, Robert H. Jackson and Edward Castillo draw conclusions about how the Mission system impacted Indians, to what extent it impacted Indians, and how the Mission system affected the Spaniards and Franciscans.

Indians, Franciscans, and Spanish Colonization is split into five sections (or chapters) which contain numerous sub-sections and a final appendix consisting of numerous detailed data tables and graphs. The first chapter of the book focuses on the Political economy of the Alta California Missions. The first section of the chapter cites the numerous goals of missions, such as ¡§establishing self-sufficiency in foodstuffs and clothing for Indian converts¡¨ and ¡§Franciscan missionaries¡Kagreed to supply surplus grain and clothing to military garrisons stationed in the region, thus reducing the cost of the royal government of maintaining troops in the province to protect the missions.¡¨2In the following section, the authors examine the importance of land and labor, and how they were key factors in the functioning of the mission economy. Due to the importance of labor, Franciscans forced men and women to labor in various tasks such as farming, ranching, construction, and maintenance. The following paragraph talks about the agriculture and ranching and their importance to a mission¡¦s economy. Agriculture was important to the economic success of the missions; however frequent rains damaged crops heavily. Ranching provided meat and raw materials for textiles, leather goods, soap and candles. In this chapter, the authors also provide criticisms on certain historians and archaeologists. In one of the sub-sections, the authors begin a paragraph criticizing historian David Hornbeck and archaeologist Jules Costello. They assert that ¡§Hornbeck and Costello¡¦s model of the political economy of California missions and particularly their claims of a shift¡Kdoes not withstand close analysis. To begin with it ignores¡K¡¨3 Jackson and Castillo criticize the way that Hornbeck and Costello ignore the factors that influenced the creation of the mission system, and how Hornbeck and Costello disregard the impact of Mexican and Spanish policies concerning the economy of California. Following the criticisms, the authors present a small graph displaying statistical data about mission economy, and the chapter ends with a small paragraph on labor, in which the authors examine the Indians¡¦ work hours in the missions.

The following chapter focuses on the aspects of social and cultural change in the Mission communities. In the first sub-section, the authors state that one of the primary goals of the Franciscan mission program. They state ¡§One of the primary objectives of the Franciscan- directed mission program in Alta California was the transformation of the culture and world view of the Indian converts.¡¨ 4 Significant aspects of Indian material culture changed under the direction of the Franciscans; however few cultural traditions survived in a handful of missions. Jackson and Castillo also explain that the second objective on the missions¡¦ acculturation program was the conversion of Indians to Catholicism. The Franciscans¡¦ desire to completely control Indian tribes in areas surrounding the missions led them to force Indians to either convert or suffer severe punishment. After explaining the reasons for the survival of traditional beliefs (such as the Indians simply rejecting the Franciscan beliefs, and the failure of Franciscans to imprison many Indian religious leaders and shamans), the authors begin a small sub-section on the traditional and new Indians, explaining the rise of the alcaldes (commoners brought to power because they cooperated with the Spaniards). To conclude the section, the authors examine changes in gender roles. The authors explain that the men took care of hunting, fishing, and sometimes gathering plant food. The women took care of baskets, clothing, household chores, water and wood, and the children. However, it was not uncommon to see a mix in gender tasks.

In chapter three, Jackson and Castillo look at the demographic collapse in Alta California missions. The chapter begins by looking at the origins of epidemics in the missions, which leads to an overview of the impact of epidemics, and to what extent they contributed to the demographic collapse in the missions of Alta California. The authors present the fact that ¡§The first severe epidemics occurred in the decade of 1800-10 and crude death rates were highest during that decade¡K¡K¡¨ 5The topic of nonepidemic causes of demographic collapse is also brought up in this chapter. It is acknowledged that epidemics caused high mortality rates, but it is also pointed out that ¡§relatively few epidemics broke out in Alta California missions, and the three most serious outbreaks occurred after 1800.¡¨ 6 From the analysis on epidemics, the authors draw a conclusion explaining that epidemics were not the major cause of the demographic downfall of missions. The real cause involves the diet of the Indians and unsanitary conditions of missions. The authors state that the diet and of the Indians is a very controversial topic among historians since some recorded documents state that ¡§the urban poor could and should continue to live, no matter how unbalanced that diet might be.¡¨ 7 However, other recorded documents state that ¡§even with the inclusion of meat in the Indian diet; the mission diet was still deficient, below the optimum in calories and nutritional balance for providing the body with sufficient resistance to diseases.¡¨ 8The amount of nutrition in the diet of the Indians was low, and as a result, many Indians contracted diseases which shattered their already weakened immune systems. The authors also criticize the calculations of historian Richard Herr, who did a study on the mean consumption of peasants in Alta California, by stating that Herr¡¦s figures do not reflect actual consumption of food. Following the examination of diets, a new paragraph concerning labor issues and social disruption is introduced. Mission economies depended upon an abundant labor supply; however with the high death rates, missions had to constantly replenish their labor force to maintain their economy. However, this constant replenishment was considered unstable since many Indians ran away in protest. The section ends with two minor paragraphs concerning changes in Indian world view, and psychological dislocation. Chapter four is a short, but interesting chapter which focuses on the resistance and social control in the Alta California Missions. Jackson and Castillo begin by introducing two types of resistance: Primary and Secondary. Primary resistance ¡§was the first offered to the incoming Spaniards. It was generally localized, and only rarely did village leaders for larger coalitions¡¨ 9 Primary resistance was important because it slowed down the Franciscan mission program. The constant attacks impeded the development of many missions, and the occasional lack of soldiers sometimes resulted in the deaths of many missionaries. Secondary resistance ¡§occurred a generation following the establishment of the missions and involved Indians born in the missions and Indian converts who lived at the missions for varying periods of time.¡¨ 10 Secondary resistance involved many large scale Indian flights, and missionaries, such as Juan Martin and Mission San Miguel, became targets of murder attempts.  Missionaries used social control rigorously in the missions. The authors examine the various methods used to intimidate Indians into obedience. Public floggings were common in missions, and missionaries limited the mobility of converts to a point where Indian mothers would kill newborns in protest.

Chapter five is the final chapter of the book. The chapter examines the mission secularization and development of Alta California in the 1830s and 1840s, as well as the policies and actions of the Mexican Government toward secularization (separation of Indians from the missions). The authors state that ¡§conservative politicians dominated Mexico during much of the first federal republic and prevented the secularization of the frontier missions¡K including the Alta California missions.¡¨ 11 From the liberals¡¦ point of view, the mission system did not belong in California, and it needed to be eliminated in order for the frontier to progress and integrate the Native American population. The conservatives, however, felt it was necessary and prevented secularization of the frontier mission in California. It wasn¡¦t until 1826 that the first emancipation decree freed a small number of converts. The time between 1827 and 1828 was a time of large population increase in the Los Angeles area. In 1833, the second stage of emancipation emancipated all Indians living in missions.

Jackson and Castillo¡¦s main point is that ¡§The fundamental success of the Spanish colonial system was due to its ability to exploit sedentary Indian populations.¡¨ 12 Overall, their statement is true. Without an Indian labor force, the missions¡¦ economy would have been in shambles, and without the Indians, the Spanish would never have acquired so much rich land. With the Indians manning the labor force, the missions had large amounts of leatherworking goods, textiles, meat, and raw materials, which aided the Spanish army and created a good amount of revenue for the missions. The missions also took up the policy of ¡§renting¡¨ out Indians to new settlers. Many new settlers were migrating to Alta California during this time period, and since many settlers were farmers who needed help to start up their farms, the renting policy was a success. The authors explain the need for social control in missions to achieve success. Publicly flogging Indians, and restricting freedom of speech, and religion was vital in keeping the Indians under control. Without vigorous social control, the missionaries would not have been able to command the Indians.

Jackson and Castillo, state their opinions on this issue often during the course of the book. They write in a way that shows that they are mostly anti-missionary/anti Spanish on the issue of the mission system. They seem to believe that construction programs on missions were manifestations of forced labor. 13 They also conveniently leave out certain amounts of data regarding Indians who actually sided with Spanish and the Franciscans 14 In the book, Jackson and Castillo criticize various historians, archaeologists, and scholars as well. In chapter three, they both criticize Ann Stodder, who stated that malnutrition was an important factor in the demographic collapse of the missions. Jackson and Castillo criticize that ¡§Stodder did not provide empirical evidence to substantiate her arguments.¡¨ 15 Jackson and Castillo are quick to point out the faults of the historians in the criticisms they make, but they tend to leave out data that would be considered important, such as the more information about what the historians they criticized said. They don¡¦t incorporate other potentially important statements made by the criticized historians about the impact of the mission system on Indians. As stated in the one of the literary critiques, Jackson and Castillo have a revisionist view of history. They critically reexamine historical facts and try to rewrite history with different interpretations of existing information, and use statistical data, and literary criticisms to argue against current views on the impact of the mission system on Indians.   

One of the prominent literary critiques of Indians, Franciscans, and Spanish Colonization is by Jack S. Williams and Anita Williams of Arizona State University. In this critique, both authors state ¡§It offers very little new information in support of its revisionist thesis¡K Jackson and Castillo's goal of integrating the California mission story into the larger framework of Latin American history is not achieved. 16 In this literary critique, both Williams state that Jackson and Castillo have written a detailed book, but they have failed to reach their ultimate goal of integrating the California missions into Latin American history. Williams also points out that for a book which focuses on the transformation of the Indian people, Jackson and Castillo offer very little information about aboriginal society. It is also stated in the review that Jackson and Castillo fail to address the point of view of the Indians that actually supported the change in life styles. In fact, not all missions were as bad as Jackson and Castillo have made them out to be. While many Spanish missions ruined the lives of Indians, some actually made their lives more pleasant. The exact reasons how missions made the Indians¡¦ lives more pleasant are complex, however not all Indians were forced onto missions, so it is obvious that there was something positive that attracted the Indians to work at the missions.  

Another  literary critique of this book is made by Sue A. Wade of San Diego State University. In her critique, Wade states ¡§One stated goal of the authors is that these new interpretations are additionally valuable in comparison with other Spanish borderland regions¡K  ;however, it is this goal that the authors leave only lightly touched.17 In her critique, Wade states that Jackson and Castillo have gone above and beyond in acquiring statistical data, and that their approach toward this data is different from other historians focusing on the mission system. However, she also states that the authors did not touch upon all the important subjects regarding the Mission system in Alta California, and overall failed to achieve their stated goal. 

It is clear to see that Robert H. Jackson and Edward Castillo have thoroughly researched their topic, and the amount of detail and evidence these two authors have provided shows their understanding of the subject. However, Jackson and Castillo tend to be a little ¡§one-sided¡¨ in their views. When discussing epidemics, they assert: ¡§The lack of medical attention during epidemic outbreaks probably increased mortality. The general belief held by missionaries that epidemics were punishment sent by God frequently limited their response to outbreaks.¡¨ 18 Here, Jackson and Castillo make it sound as if the entire problem should have been blamed on the missionaries. However, they leave out the fact that the Spanish government could have done something to aid the Indians. If the government was profiting off the labor of the Indians, wouldn¡¦t the government have done something to stop the diseases from further destroying their labor force? Jackson and Castillo¡¦s failure to present the information concerning the response of the government to this issue shows their biased feelings. 

The events taking place in Alta California in this time period were not directly linked to events occurring in Eastern United States. The years between 1769 and 1823 in American were mainly concerned with the American Revolution and British rule over the colonies. However, the Spanish were involved in the war, as well as the signing of the Adams-Onis treaty, which ceded the territory of Florida to the United States. The Mexican War of Independence, which took place from 1810 to 1821, involved the Spanish and the Mexicans, but it did not affect the Missions or Indians in Alta California significantly. The events that occurred in California were distinctive from the events occurring in the rest of the country. The only other Spanish missions at the time were in Texas, but many missions there were either running slowly or were completely inactive. Jackson and Castillo also state that unlike Texan missions ¡§California missions more closely approached the utopian idea of Christian communities that influenced several generations of Franciscans in the Americans.¡¨19

Jackson and Castillo see California as important to the Southern parts of the United States. ¡§California missions contributed to the political and economic objectives of the Spanish and Mexican governments.¡¨ 20 They state that the labor and goods provided by the missions substantially reduced the cost of maintaining the military on the frontier. The mission system was obviously a success for the Spanish and Mexican government, since they spent thousands of dollars to aid the missions and keep the system afloat, but gained a hefty profit in the end.

The level of detail and evidence in this book is extraordinary, but the fact that Jackson and Castillo leave out a few ¡§minor¡¨ details here and there somewhat destroys the credibility that these two authors have. As seen in quotes above, Jackson and Castillo conveniently disregard details which might go against their ¡§anti-Iberian, anti-missionary, anti- European, and anti colonist perspective.¡¨ 21As stated by Jack and Anita Williams. The critiques done by Jackson and Castillo on historians are, like their statements and opinions, ¡§one-sided¡¨. Their criticisms of Hornbeck and Costello show a completely one-sided perspective. They state very little of what Hornbeck and Costello actually said, but write a whole paragraph of criticisms about how Hornbeck and Costello disregard a number of factors regarding acculturation and the political economy of the missions. While the book is well written, detailed, and contains numerous pages of data, the opinions of Jackson and Castillo get in the way of the actual facts. Their insistence upon inserting their own opinions, lead them to ultimately fail in achieving their stated goal.


1. Jackson, Robert H, and Castillo Edward. Indians, Franciscans, and Spanish Colonization: The Impact 2. of the Mission System on California Indians. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995. 1.

3. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 11.

4. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 15.

5. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 31.

6. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 41.

7. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 42.

8. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 43.

9. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 45.

10. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 73.

11. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 73.

12. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 89.

13. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 1.

Williams, Jack S. and Williams-Cohen, Anita. ¡§Review¡¨. Humanities and Social Sciences Online.1 June 2008 < http://www.hnet.org/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=9109851380190>

14. Williams, Jack S. and Anita Williams-Cohen 1.

15. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 45.

16. Williams, Jack S. and Anita Williams-Cohen 1.

17. Wade Sue A. ¡§Book Review¡¨. San Diego Historical Society.1 June 2008  < http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/97winter/indians.htm>

18. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 42.

19. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 108.

20. Jackson, Robert H, and Edward Castillo 107.

21. Williams, Jack S. and Anita Williams-Cohen 1.