This article argues that cloth items played a crucial role in establishing friendships and creating Catholic converts between the sixteenth century and the end of the eighteenth century. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, cloth products served as touchstones of friendship between California Indians and Spanish mariners. As a result of these early meetings, Indians developed a taste for cloth. This taste for cloth allowed Spanish colonists in 1769 to reconnoiter Alta California without a great deal of violence because Indians saw their initial meetings as a continuation of their previous encounters. During the mission period, Franciscan missionaries could rely on cloth items to attract Indians to mission communities. After living with the Spanish, however, especially after observing the death toll of Spanish-introduced diseases and major changes in the land, California Indian people began to reject Spanish ways, and they communicated their political views by rejecting Spanish-introduced clothing.

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