Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday mission

We headed to the facsimile of Mission San Diego de Alcala, a recreation of the first Catholic mission church built in California that rose from the ruins of the original structure in the 20th century.
The church is located in the middle of what has become the sprawl of modern San Diego, near the city's namesake river and a former Indian site in an area known as Mission Gorge.

The mission was originally established in 1769 on a raised point overlooking San Diego Bay, but it was relocated five years later six miles to the east to the present location.

Given the track record that the church and Spain had in their treatment of indigenous people in the lower Americas, we can just imagine what the relationship was like in San Diego.

The mission's official Web site describes the interaction in fairly idyllic terms and is dumbfounded as to why 800 Indians stormed the mission a year after it was moved, and massacred its head priest and several others and tried to burn the place down.

Here's how the Web site recounts things: "Father Jayme had great rapport with the American Indians but two of the mission Indians became discontented with the rules and regulations necessary for an orderly unit and they incited hundreds of Indians in remote villages to riot."

Considering the way clergy members were still treating Catholic school students well into the last century, we can only imagine the torture the Indians suffered at the hands of their clerical conquerors.

The site goes on to brag about the 1,405 "conversions" that were achieved the following year. No doubt there was hell to pay for the revolt. Not surprisingly, there's no mention of how many Indians met their end at the hands of the invaders before or after the uprising.
Well, what do you expect. This is an institution that can't tell the truth about things that happened 10 years ago. Can we really expect it to be honest about atrocities from two and a half centuries ago?
This last picture shows some of what's left of the mission's original structures, which now sit in the large courtyard of the complex.

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