This article analyzes the early records of Mission San Gabriel to conclude that the missionaries replaced native identities with new categories of gentile and neophyte, based on religious criteria, and blurred the racial-social distinctions brought by the colonizers from Mexico into one California frontier class, the gente de razón, based on their roles in colonization and their adherence to Catholicism. The consequences can be measured in the 1769 explorers’ depictions of Indigenous, in native resistance, and most clearly in the mission register of baptisms, confirmations, and marriages. Christian Indians from Baja California who participated in the colonial enterprise complicated the frontier class distinctions. The early practice at Mission San Gabriel became the model for later mission practice.
In the Name of Spanish Colonization: Formulating Race and Identity in a Southern California Mission, 1769–1803
John Macias is a history instructor at Cerritos College, in Norwalk, California. He earned his PhD in History at Claremont Graduate University. John has presented on the history of San Gabriel’s Mexican community and on the history of La Union Mutualista de San José, an early 20th-century Mexican mutual aid society founded at L.A.’s Plaza Church. He is currently working on a book manuscript that explores the development of mission Indian and Mexican identities in the Los Angeles region by utilizing the history of the San Gabriel Mission as a case study from the mission period to the early 20th century.
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
John Macias; In the Name of Spanish Colonization: Formulating Race and Identity in a Southern California Mission, 1769–1803. Southern California Quarterly 1 May 2021; 103 (2): 155–197. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/scq.2021.103.2.155
Download citation file: