Caroline Ward Holland and her son Kagen toured all 21 California missions, on foot, this summer. They took this walk "in order to protest the Junipero Serra canonization, to honor their ancestors and 'to tell the truth.'" reports Mark Day, at Indian Country Today.
The adventure sounds grueling, while at the same time restorative, saddening, and highly informative. What Caroline and Kagen found should come as no surprise. While the history of the missions and missionaries are glorified, the native people they enslaved and killed, through overwork and disease, are forgotten.
From Sonoma Caroline and Kagen walked three days to Mission San Rafael. "It was tough, she said, "but I thought about the ancestors' walks. They had been removed from their land. Their children had been taken from them. They had little food or water, and they didn't know where they were going."
She described a plaque at Mission San Rafael with a message from a friar recounting the number of baptisms, but with no mention of burials. And when she inquired about the mission cemetery, a park official said the Indians were buried "under the parking lot."
This would be a constant theme as they made their way south. At most missions, little care was given to Indian burial sites that are often paved over.
I was educated in the California public education system. We were taught the native people welcomed the missionaries and pretty much thanked them for destroying their way of life. Clearly, this is not true.
Thanks to Caroline and Kagan for undertaking this epic trip!