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Race and Cultural Landscapes: A Conversation with Elizabeth Kryder-Reid

The Cultural Landscape Foundation

California Mission Landscapes (Kryder-Reid)Can you begin by giving us a thumbnail history of the California missions?   

The mission story is often told as a classic rise, collapse, and rebirth narrative—the 21 Alta California missions founded by Franciscans in the name of the Spanish crown, beginning in 1769 with the first mission in San Diego and ending with the last one just north of San Francisco in 1823. The missions were intended both to “civilize” the Indigenous peoples and to claim the land for Spain. Following Mexican independence, and ultimately secularization in 1833, most missions began to decay physically in the face of earthquakes, erosion, and without the Native people’s labor to maintain them. After California became an American territory and then a state, the missions were returned to the Catholic Church in 1865 and began to be restored or reconstructed, often with quite romanticized visions of colonial times.

Read the full interview.