Friday, July 31, 2009

On a mission

La Purisima Mission, just one in a chain stretching the length of the state, is a wonderful stop while heading to Lompoc. We put it on our list of "Things to do" while vacationing in Central California.

Because it is far from any city the mission complex has the space to show the vastness of outposts settled by the church in the 18th century. This large tract of land is used to illustrate the hardships of creating a settlement so far from Spain and whether you agree with their intrusion on the native population or not, it is interesting to see how they lived.

The local Indians did not fare well under the Mission rule, many died, their culture stripped from them in the name of civilization, and many conscripted into the army. Oh, and let's not forget their baptisms into Mother Church.

In 1834, when the Missions were ordered to secularize, the native population, once again, got the worst of the bargain. The promised land they'd farmed was eventually taken away and the Padres left Purisima to populate another Mission in Santa Ynez leaving the Chumash Indiangs to fend for themselves.

Walking through the buildings you get a sense of the pride once there but also the sadness of the treatment of the native peoples. Working so hard to be treated with respect that never came. My fourth-grade history never talked of this aspect of the California Missions but then that was in the late 50s. I wonder what they tell the kids now?

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