The Forging of Communities in Colonial Alta California, 1769-1834

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Interaction between Native Californians and colonists, soldiers, and priests representing the Spanish state in Alta California after 1769 began a process of constantly fluctuating relationships between native and non-native people. The establishment of the missions and presidios—and the subsequent expansion of colonial settlements—created new and dynamic relations and communities within and between colonists and native people across California. These communities were dynamic at various scales, and were based, at least in part, on notions of mutual dependency and benefit amongst and between community members. As the colonial presence and reach expanded in Alta California, some of these communities became increasingly multi-ethnic. This session thinks about the nature of community in colonial Alta California. How were communities formed and re-formed? How did community members identify themselves and identify with the community? What criteria were used to create and reformulate community? When were communities homogeneous or multi-ethnic? How were these communities unique or overlapping with others? This session entails case studies of the concept of community, drawing from examples of colonial establishments (missions, pueblos, presidios, mercantile outposts) and Native Californian locales to better understand the nature of interaction, dependence and benefit, and identity.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-9 of 9)

  • Documents (9)

  • The Archaeology of Community at Mission Santa Clara de Asís (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lee Panich. Sarah Peelo. Linda Hylkema.

    In this paper, we examine the challenges associated with understanding indigenous community formation and change through the archaeology of the native ranchería at Mission Santa Clara de Asís. The mission’s indigenous population had well-documented and distinct temporal shifts, initially drawing local Ohlone converts but eventually extending recruitment to Yokuts groups in the more distant San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada foothills. These population changes pose an intriguing archaeological...

  • Communal Ritual, Communal Feasting, and the Creation of Community in Colonial-Era Los Angeles (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kathleen Hull. John Douglass. Seetha Reddy.

    This paper examines archaeological and ethnohistoric data that speak to the role of communal events and practices in the creation and maintenance of real and imagined communities during the colonial era for native people in the Los Angeles Basin. Communal ritual and associated feasting had a long tradition in this region, and persisted into the colonial era despite the incorporation of many native people into Mission San Gabriel and the Pueblo of Los Angeles. Archaeological data suggest such...

  • Community Formation and Integration in Colonial Alta California (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Douglass. Kathleen Hull.

    Community formation and integration in colonial settings has traditionally been viewed from the binary perspective of colonists and native people. This session views the concept of community in colonial Alta California (1769-1834) from more holistic and alternative viewpoints. To set the stage for this discussion, this introductory paper offers an overview of the sociopolitical landscape in colonial Alta California and presents a broad discussion of the concept of "community" as it may pertain...

  • The Forging of Communities at Colony Ross (1812-1841) in Northern California (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kent Lightfoot.

    The purpose of this paper is to examine the multiple communities that materialized at Colony Ross, the mercantile outpost administered by the Russian-American Company in northern California from 1812-1841. Archaeological and archival research suggests that several distinctive pluralistic communities, comprised mostly of colonial men and indigenous people, were established at Colony Ross. The paper will examine the dynamic relations of these communities, including how they formed, how they...

  • The Formation of Mission Indian Communities in South Central California: An Ethnohistorical Case Study (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Johnson.

    The Mission Period in Spanish-Mexican California resulted in the breakdown of original independent native polities. Depopulation from introduced European diseases coupled with intermarriage between people from different tribal groups at the missions led to the disappearance of linguistic differences and the formation of new community identities named after the different missions. Alongside these processes of coalescence and ethnogenesis, political and traditional ceremonial activities...

  • Looking at the Cosmopolitan Community of the Pueblo of San Diego in the Mexican Period in California: 1821-1846 (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Glenn Farris.

    Following the successful conclusion of the Mexican Revolution, many soldiers from the old Spanish Presidio of San Diego moved down the hill to found a civil pueblo. The soldiers themselves represented a diverse background of people from Mexico to which were added local Native Americans as wives and, more often, as servants. With the opening of the province of California to foreigners under the new Mexican regime, a variety of men of European and American descent including merchants and sailors...

  • Maintenance of Tribal Communities in the California Spanish Missions (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah Peelo. Christina Spellman. Lee Panich.

    In this symposium, we have been tasked with investigating how communities were forged during the Mission Period in California (1769-1834). Some researchers currently suggest that diverse indigenous populations in mission communities formed collective Indian communities and identities (e.g. Lightfoot 1998; Panich 2009; Peelo 2009). However, others maintain that indigenous peoples were not only part of a mission community, but they were simultaneously part of diverse traditional village...

  • Making Community in the Colonial Hinterland of Coastal Marin County, California (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Tsim Schneider.

    From the first baptism in 1783 to the last recorded baptism in 1832, at least 2,800 Coast Miwoks from the Marin Peninsula entered Spanish missions in the San Francisco Bay area. Understandably, and like most accounts of Indian entanglements with Spanish missions, the story of Coast Miwok missionization and assumed cultural loss is told through the documents and trowel work at Spanish missions. Comparably less is known of the world beyond the mission walls and in the hinterlands that took shape...

  • "A Mourning Dirge was Sung": Community and Remembrance at Mission San Gabriel (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Dietler. Heather Gibson. Benjamin Vargas.

    Recent research at Mission San Gabriel (CA-LAN-184H), conducted in collaboration with descendant communities, has identified two major types of Mission-period features related to communal mourning. In addition to the known practice of interring and memorializing the deceased in the Mission’s cemetery, archaeological data recovery excavation has identified a series of artifact-filled pits that have much in common with prehistoric and historic Native American mourning features that have been...