The Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego is named for Junipero Serra, a Catholic saint who was the founder of the brutal Indian mission system in California. Photo: Gary J. Wood

Steven Newcomb: History center hides the truth about colonization in California

Last month, the San Diego History Center marked the 248th anniversary of the first mission in southern California. But the system didn't work out so well for indigenous peoples, Steven Newcomb (Shawnee / Lenape) of the Indigenous Law Institute points out:
Two hundred and forty-eight years ago, on July 16, in 1769, a Franciscan Friar named Junipero Serra conducted the first Catholic Mass in the territory of the Kumeyaay Nation, a place that the Spanish explorer Vizcaíno named “San Diego” in 1602. This year, on July 16, 2017, 248 years after Serra’s liturgical ceremony, the San Diego Historical Society placed a plaque at the Spanish military fort, called “the Presidio.” The plaque was placed in honor of that phase of Spain’s imperial expansion called “The Portola Expedition,” an expedition that traveled north from Missions Loreto and Ignacio in Baja California in 1769.

I prefer to call it “The Portolá Expedition de la Dominación Española,” in keeping with Manuel Moreno y Sanz’s Spanish language book, Origenes de la Dominación Española en América (Origins of Spanish Domination in America), published in 1910. Evidence of the mind-set and behavior of domination in the colonization of Mexico and Baja and Alta California is also found in a biography of the Jesuit priest Juan Maria Salvatierra, published in 1754.

The book’s title page refers to Salvatierra as being part of “The Company of Jesus” (the Jesuit Order), and says he was “a fervent Missionary in the Province of New Spain, and Apostolic Conqueror of the Californias.” (emphasis added) Father Juan Antonio, who was then the Censor for the Holy Inquisition, dedicated the book “To The Most Holy Mary,” who the book cover lists as the “Mother of God,” and “Queen of all the Saints.” It also adds that she is “Lady of Armies,” and “the Conqueress of New Kingdoms in her Holy Image of Loreto.” This means “Mother Mary” was being conceived of as “the Dominator” of New Kingdoms. And lest anyone think that such language was only applied to the Jesuit Order, it is important to note that in 1775, the Dominican and Franciscan Orders made a joint commitment to the “spiritual conquest of the infidels in Old and New California.” Domination is the hidden meaning of the word “conquest.”

Read More on the Story:
Steven Newcomb: A Plaque Honoring Spanish Colonization in the Kumeyaay Nation Territory (Indian Country Media Network August 21, 2017)

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