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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Historic Exploits

bust of a Tongva man at Mission San Gabriel

I didn't know archaeologists were shoveling up artifacts across the street from Mission San Gabriel, did you?

Have some video, it's very cool:
Article and video with interviews, from ABC7.
Article and press conference with lead archaeologist John Dietler in the Pasadena Star-News.

Some of what they found was expected, some wasn't. All of it's a big story. Mission San Gabriel was the fourth of the California missions built by the Spanish in the late 18th century. Its founding and subsequent land grab disrupted the pastoral life of the local native people, to say the very least, and set the ball rolling for the exploitation of the area's resources by, uh, people of European descent.

The Spanish weren't the first to do that and they wouldn't be the last, but you could say that uncovering what lies beneath the surface across the street from Mission San Gabriel is the equivalent of uncovering the beginnings of modern Pasadena, Los Angeles, and the state of California as well.

Mission San Gabriel is a beautiful, complicated place. The Spanish missionaries enslaved the Tongva people, and/or they believed they were doing God's work. Some Tongva worked willingly at the Mission. Some tried to run away and suffered for it. There is no one answer and there never will be.

16 comments:

Latino Heritage said...

So true. This whole period is very complex. The history and stories of Toypurina give insight to the response of some of the Tongva in this area.

Dina said...

Can you go volunteer to dig, Petrea?

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, LH. Here's Wikipedia's story on Toypurina: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toypurina. She led a rebellion against Mission San Gabriel in 1785.

That's a good question, Dina. Surely I can at least go ask.

Bellis said...

Dina is very polite not to comment on the excitement we have about remains from the 18th Century when she's in a country (Israel) that has remains back to thousands of years BC. But hey, they're excavating the site of Chapman's Mill, and I'm excited!

I'm going back for another look at Hart's exhibition about the water history of the Mission area at the Huntington Library today, as it's not going to be there much longer. There are photos of the Mission and Tongva Indians that I'd never seen before. It's only open at weekends.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Judy Bacca used the story of Toypurina in her Baldwin Park metro station. Caused a stir when the minutemen and other misguided caucasians....

The first mission was actually near Whittier Narrows - don't remember why they moved it.....but if your at the SG mission don't forget to visit the (worlds??) largest grape vine. Mr V did a painting of it

Petrea Burchard said...

Dina is a good soul, Bellis. Obviously that's true of everyone here.
We're going to see that exhibit next week.

Misguided Caucasians? PA, surely you jest. Yes, there's a carved rock commemorating that Whittier Narrows location but not much else. I have a picture of that grape vine, perhaps I'll post it one of these days.

Latino Heritage said...

They moved the mission because they experienced an eq there.

Susan Campisi said...

Such a brilliant encapsulation of this piece of history, Petrea. I learn so much here, from you and the good souls who comment.

I have family visiting in a few weeks. They want to see Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Venice Beach. I'm going to make sure they also see Mission San Gabriel.

Petrea Burchard said...

I have photos of two things mentioned here: PA's grapevine and the commemorative plaque erected at Whittier Narrows. Maybe a mid-week post?

Susan, I think they'd like it. I don't blame them for wanting to see all the famous places they've heard about, but we've got so much great stuff in the SGV--the Mission, the Huntington, our museums, on and on...

Margaret said...

I heard about this dig. It's very exciting.

Steve Scauzillo said...

Pasadena Adjacent, you are correct. It is called Basque del Rio now. They moved because the river flooded their camp. They went to higher ground.

Petrea Burchard said...

Wikipedia agrees with you, Steve. Perhaps the flood was caused by an earthquake? They don't say. A later quake caused the bells to come down, and that part of the mission (the bell part) was rebuilt in a different spot.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_San_Gabriel_Arc%C3%A1ngel

Virginia said...

Things are hopping in the Dena! Keep us posted.
Oh ,,,,Meeps and I talked. We're willing to go 20%.
V

Petrea Burchard said...

It's a joy to negotiate with you, Virginia, because you offer more than I asked for!

Bellis said...

The stone on the pillar has a primitive face on it. Do you think it was made by one of the Tongva at the Mission?

Petrea Burchard said...

I don't know, Bellis, it depends on how old it is. A few other such decorations pop up in the gardens. But pretty much everything at the mission that was made before 1833 (such as, for example, the mission itself) was made by the Tongva.