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.

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