Are you a student, teacher or parent interested in learning more about California’s native, mission and rancho eras?
Are you curious or passionate about the cultural legacy of early California?
Welcome to California Frontier. If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you have come to the right place.
California has a deep and rich past. It’s climate and landscape have attracted people for thousands of years, from the original native people, to Spanish explorers and settlers, and later American fortune seekers. It has always been a frontier: a place that connects and where cultures mix and sometimes clash. It is a special place, and there is no better way to understand this place than to get to its roots.
My name is Damian Bacich, the creator of California Frontier. I am a college professor and a father of elementary-age children. I created this site to help teachers, students and parents — and anyone else — to find the best information available about California’s unique heritage.
Elementary school teachers and parents know that California has standards for 3rd and 4th-grade social studies that require students to learn about Native peoples, as well as the Spanish and Mexican periods. If you grew up in California, you probably did a mission project in 4th grade and you might have visited the California missions as a child with your parents. But for many people that was where the learning stopped.
I personally love exploring California’s frontier history and sharing what I know with others (for more about me, check out our About page). But there is so much more to know and so many fascinating places to explore, for both kids and adults, that I want to share as much as I can with you.
If it’s your first time here, this page will help you find your way around.
1. The Spanish Missions in California. Here you will find articles and other resources about the missions, their origin and facts about them.
- What Were the Spanish Missions in California?
- Profiles of All 21 California Missions
- Map of All 21 California Missions
- California Mission Founders
2. Junípero Serra. Serra is the founder and symbol of the mission chain in Alta California. Below are some helpful articles about Serra.
- Who Was Junípero Serra?
- The Seven Steps to Sainthood for Junípero Serra
- The Five Reasons Pope Francis Canonized Junípero Serra
3. Native Life. The California frontier begins with the native people who settled the landscape thousands of years ago, and who are still here with us today.
- Indian Life at the California Missions
- Mission-related California Indian Groups
- Indian Life at the California Missions – San Miguel Archángel
- Indian Life at the California Missions – San Carlos Borromeo (Carmel)
- Indian Life at the California Missions – Santa Inés
- Why You Need to Visit San Antonio de Pala
4. Exploration and Settlement. The Spanish and their rivals were exploring the California coastline as early as the 16th century. These articles provide some background about their explorations.
- How Did California Get its Name?
- Early Exploration of California
- Exploration and Settlement of California
- Soldiers and Presidios
- Settlers on the California Frontier (Part 1)
- Settlers on the California Frontier (Part 2)
5. Teaching and Kids. Kids can have a great time learning about California’s living history. Below are some articles to help you get them engaged.
- Five Tips for Teaching Kids about the California Missions
- Happy Birthday San José
- A Hidden Gem: Ulistac Natural Area (Video)
6. Books etc. There are some excellent books and other media available to guide you in discovering all there is to know about California’s Native, Spanish and Mexican heritage.
7. Resources. On our Resources page you can find links to websites, reference works, organizations, museums and archives, as well as helpful tools for researching and teaching early California.
8. Social Connections. Check out CaliforniaFrontier.net on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. You’ll find photos, updates from recent trips, teaching resources and links to interesting articles from around the web. We also have a growing Youtube channel. If you like what you see, help get the word out by sharing!
9. Join the California Frontier community. You’ll receive a free printable map of the Spanish missions in Alta California, and you will get updates and messages about new resources that become available on the site. You can do that here.
10. Send in Your Ideas. What would you like to see featured on CaliforniaFrontier.net? Use the form below or send me an email at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you!