It’s dawned on me that the California’s missions were a lot worse that most people realize—objectively a cross between the ISIS theocratic state and Nazi concentration camps. Call it California’s Gulag Archipelago. European visitors at the time were horrified by what they saw. The Mexican government, as soon as it was independent from Spain, immediately disbanded the missions and sent the radical priests packing.
Today, we don’t even hold the missions to the moral standards of that time. We white-wash them, cover them with bougainvillea, glorify them, and have even developed an entire architectural style based on them: we have mission-style banks, restaurants, homes, and hotels.
For sixty-five years, from 1769 to 1834, the Natives of California lived Father JuníperoSerra’s archipelago of twenty-one missions stretching along most of the coast and valleys. Each mission depended on Native labor and controlled…
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