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The craftsman
Vol. V, No. 4 (January 1904)

James, George Wharton
The Franciscan mission builders of California,   pp. 321-335 PDF (4.7 MB)

Page 334

Indians under the control of the Missions,
at the beginning of this century. To-day,
how many are there? I have spent long
days in the different Mission localities, ardu-
ously searching for Indians, but oftentimes
only to fail of my purpose. In and about
San Francisco, there is not one to be found.
At San Carlos Borromeo, in both Monterey
and the Carmelo Valley, except for a few
half-breeds, no one of Indian blood can be
discovered. It is the same at San Miguel,
San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. At
Pala, that romantic chapel, where once the
visiting priest from San Luis Rey found a
congregation of several hundreds awaiting
his ministrations, the land was recently pur-
chased from white men, by the United States
Indian Commission, as a new home for the
evicted Palatingwa Indians of Warner's
Ranch. These latter Indians, in recent in-
terviews with me, have pertinently asked:
"Where did the white men get this land, so
they could sell it to the Government for us?
Indians lived here many centuries before a
white man had ever seen the 'land of the
sundown sea.' When the 'long gowns'
first came here, there were many Indians at
Pala. Now they are all gone. Where?
And how do we know that before long we
shall not be driven out, and be gone, as they
were driven out and are gone ?"
  At San Luis Rey and San Diego, there
are a few scattered families, but very few,
and most of these have fled far back into the
desert, or to the high mountains, as far as
possible out of reach of the civilization that
demoralizes and exterminates them.
  A few scattered remnants are all that
  Let us discover why.
  The system of the Mission Fathers was
patriarchal, paternal. Certain it is that
the Indians were largely treated as if they
were children. No one questions or denies
this statement. Few    question that the
Indians were happy under this system, and
all will concede that they made wonderful
progress in the so-called arts of civilization.
From crude savagery they were lifted by
the training of the Fathers into usefulness
and productiveness. They retained their
health, vigor and virility. They were, by
necessity perhaps, but still undeniably,
chaste, virtuous, temperate, honest and rea-
sonably truthful. They were good fathers
and mothers, obedient sons and daughters,
amenable to authority, and respectful to the
counsels of old age.
  All this and more, may unreservedly be
said for the Indians while they were under
the control of the Fathers. That there were
occasionally individual cases of harsh treat-
ment is possible. The most loving and in-
dulgent parents are now and again ill-tem-
pered, fretful or nervous. The Fathers
were men subject to all the limitations of
other men. Granting these limitations and
making due allowance for human imperfec-
tion, the rule of the Fathers must still be
admired for its wisdom and commended for
its immediate results.
  Now comes the order of secularization,
and a little later the domination of the
Americans. Those opposed to the control
of the Fathers are to see the Indians free.
They are to be "removed from under the
irksome restraint of cold-blooded priests who
have held them in bondage not far removed
from slavery." They are to have unre-
strained liberty, the broadest and fullest in-
tercourse with the great American people,

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