In 19th century California, some California Indians sought to recover their native lands by requesting grants from the Mexican government. We visit two historic sites that honor native ranchers.
When Mexican officials ordered the dismantling of the mission system in Alta California (secularization), they had to decide what to do with the thousands of acres of property from each mission. The original idea behind the missions was that the land continued to belong to the native people. Once the missions had exhausted their usefulness, the Indians were to continue to own the land.
Nevertheless, indigenous people received only a small part of these lands. Instead, many natives wound up seeking jobs in towns and on ranches, using the skills they learned in the missions to make a living.
Some Indians did, however, obtain grants to portions of their ancestral lands, a number of them in the San Francisco Bay Area. I recently had the chance to visit two places that commemorate native people who owned ranches during the Mexican era. The first is the Roberto – Suñol Adobe in San José, and the second is Olompali State Historical Park in Novato.Continue Reading