Californios, the Spanish-speaking natives and landed gentry of early California, perceived themselves as victims of Anglo-American repression after California's annexation in 1848. In Los Angeles, particularly between 1865 and 1890, the deterioration of the Californio families and their ultimate loss of land and status form a poignant narrative in the social history of the state. The three recognized racial designations that dominated the period were Mexican, Anglo, and Native Indian, but more recent studies reveal that the construction of Los Angeles' cultural and political identity during the 1800s also included other ethnic groups. However, the contributions and impact of prominent French Basques on the growth of Los Angeles are often excluded from the historiography. Remarkably, in the San Fernando Valley, wealthy French Basque rancheros lived as Californios and altered the established Californio profile. Unique among them was Miguel Leonis, a wealthy rancho owner who successfully existed as both a landed Californio and an Anglo encroacher.

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