Early California Reconsidered: Mexicans, Anglos, and Indians at Mission San Jose
David Weber was the leading scholar of the Spanish Borderlands in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Just before his death in 2010, Weber shared a rare interrogation he found in Mexico’s major archive with us. It concerned Jedediah Smith’s California incursion into the Central San Joaquín Valley in 1827–1828. Using digitized databases of Franciscan registers from Mission San José and Mission Santa Clara, we have decoded the interrogation and identified all the Indians questioned, as well as those mentioned in the document, by tribal origin and language affiliation. By lifting the veil of Indian anonymity, we were able to better understand the motivation behind each testimony allowing us to offer, for the first time in the literature, a look at the impact of Jedediah Smith’s expedition from an Indian perspective. Indian interaction (both tribal and Mission) with Mexican and American imperialism is central to understanding Smith’s disruptive impact in California.
Pacific Historical Review
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