The following comes from a Sept. 4 story in the Sacramento Bee.
Bishop Jaime Soto, who heads the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento and the California Catholic Conference, announced Friday a plan to explore how American Indian experiences at California missions during the era of Father Junipero Serra are portrayed and how they are taught in Catholic schools.
The effort, involving American Indian educators, historians, Catholic school officials and others, will focus on 19 missions still under church control and address the schools’ third- and fourth-grade curriculum.
For many years, the Indian experience has been ignored or denied, replaced by an incomplete version of history focused more on European colonists than on the original Californians.
Bishop Jaime Soto, Catholic Diocese of Sacramento
Pope Francis’ January announcement that he will canonize Serra on Sept. 23 in Washington, D.C., was a catalyst for the church to open a dialogue about what changes should occur, said Ken Laverone, provincial vicar of the Franciscan Province, which is a partner with the Catholic bishops of California in the effort.
“The canonization from that perspective is a positive thing,” Laverone said. “Whether you agree he should be canonized or not, the fact is that it’s giving us both sides of the dialogue.”
Soto, in a statement with the announcement, noted that the California mission era “gave rise to controversy and to heartache” when seen through the eyes of Americans Indians.
“For many years, the Indian experience has been ignored or denied, replaced by an incomplete version of history focused more on European colonists than on the original Californians,” Soto said.
The 18-month initiative will proceed on two fronts. One emphasis will focus on how the history is presented within the missions. The other will explore how American Indians and missions are presented to Catholic students.
In the schools, each superintendent for California’s 12 dioceses will look at the curriculum and examine how Serra is taught and how the story of American Indians in California missions is taught, said Andrew Galvan, curator of Mission Dolores in San Francisco and a member of the Ohlone tribe.
“We’re not looking to rewrite textbooks,” he said. Instead, the aim would be to mold a curriculum that is correct and true, Galvan said.
On the mission front, a panel will review and revise cultural content and displays, guided by a cultural study and survey of the sites by Galvan.
Galvan said he was delighted that the issues he discussed with Catholic bishops at a Sacramento meeting in April were about to be explored.
Currently, he said, descendants of the natives whose labors built the missions cannot tour them without paying a fee charged to the general public. And they cannot reserve a classroom in a mission for an activity without being charged.
“My ancestors were baptized at Mission Dolores,” he said. “I’m museum director and I don’t have anything about what Indian people are doing today, cultural revitalization, arts and crafts,” he said.
A large wall exhibit at
, Galvan said. “There were no teepees in California,” he said. “It’s offensive to native people. It’s wrong.”
Galvan described the missions as places where traditional American Indian life was suppressed to transform natives into good Spaniards and good Catholics.
“What the missions need in California (is) to let the Indians in,” he said, to visit and worship where their ancestors lived.
While there is much to be admired in the culture of the Indians, the entire world is better off because Padre Junipero Serra brought Christianity to the New World. He followed the command, “Go and preach to all the nations.” I wish I had spent my life doing something similar, as did many of my mother’s relatives, missionaries to Africa for three generations, including present day. Padre Serra’s success is to be seen today throughout North, Central and South America, and any human failings the man had should be viewed in the context of his times, not of our own. Pray that our human failings are judged as mercifully by future generations, who may expect us to live up to future cultural norms we do not yet have.
Maryanne, history has always been written by the victors. Our school curriculums always, until recent years, told the European side of the story. If you look at it from the losing side, we invaded a land, colonized it, and made the natives conform to European ways and religions. Since this all occurred before my time I’m not sure which story is correct. Maybe a bit of both? Missionaries doe the Lord’s work, as they see it and good for them and us. But how do the missioned see it?
There was a lady on a cell phone call speaking a foreign language behind a man in the grocery store. When she was finished the man said to her, “This is America. We speak English here, If you want to speak that language, go back to where you come from.” The lady said to him in perfect English “Sir, I was speaking Navajo.”
Native tribal languages have been used around our area, too. I use the term native American Indian if I do not know the tribe of the person because one man told me, “They gave us the name Indian and now they are trying to take it away.” He seemed displeased. ” Nevertheless, with all the people in California now from East India, it does make things confusing.
The ever de-constructing leftist Bob One…
Maryanne, Serra did not bring Christianity to the New World. It was already here. He didn’t even bring it to Mexico. The Jesuits were already in Mexico, and when they were expelled by the King, the Franciscans including Serra, filled the vacuum left by their explusion, expanding their network into what is now California, just before the nation – including the Catholic state of Maryland – declared its independence from England.
Serra, so far as I know, never went to Central or South America at all. Dominicans, Franciscans, and Jesuits brought Christianity to the various parts of America a full 200 years before Serra arrived in Mexico.
The irony of Christopher Columbus naming the inhabitants of his landfall for those an ocean away and then some, remains as curious as the term ‘America’ itself – purportedly after a chart maker of the time.
In Idaho during Census 2010 it was necessary to fly members of one Eastern Idaho tribe to Northwest Idaho in order to be allowed on Reservation Land. Consider the complex tangle of legal systems involved in a Tribal Member pulled over on an Interstate Highway by a State Trooper while on Reservation Land.
Still – Tribes with Treaties with the US Government are Sovereign Nations with peculiar status, and if they are ‘lucky’ can get rich on ‘Indian Casino’ payouts – which has led to ‘genuine % ancestry wars’ over who gets to…