In front of Mission Dolores, demonstrators displayed a number of large banners emblazoned with the statement, "No Sainthood For Serra."
"Today we stand together in solidarity to say: No sainthood for Junipero Serra. No sainthood for genocide. No sainthood for murderers and rapers. We are saying this in a loud and proud way," Corrina Gould said in her introductory remarks.
Informational flyers were offered to those visiting the Mission, and included direct quotes from Serra himself.
Two quotes were taken from Junipero Serra’s response to Spanish King Carlos III’s request in 1780 that the California missions free the Indians, give them legal representation, and stop whipping them.
Serra explained to the Spanish king that, "...spiritual fathers should punish their sons, the Indians by blows... I don't see what law or reasoning my Indians should be exempt from being whipped." Serra also wrote that, "We can not free the Indians, relinquish directing their future, or give up the authority to use punishment."
Another quote demonstrators shared was from taken from a letter written by Serra to Spanish commander Moncada, requesting that a group of four Indians who attempted to escape Carmel Mission several times in 1775 be punished.
In that letter, Serra requested, “… two or three whippings which Your Lordship may order applied to them… If your lordship does not have shackles, with your permission they may be sent from here [San Carlos Mission]. I think the punishment should last one month.”
Theresa Harlan, who is of Coastal Miwok ancestry, stated, "The only miracle in my mind is that he made hundreds of thousands of Native Americans disappear."
"If this is sainthood," said another one of the speakers, "then who the hell are the rest of the saints?"
Wicahpiluta Candelaria, who is of Rumsen Ohlone and Apache ancestry, sang Ohlone songs and played a clapper stick at the demonstration, with the accompaniment of several others. The players included his young son, Yoscolo, who he said was named after a Yokut Indian who led raids against Mexican settlers and liberated several hundred Indians from Mission Santa Clara in the 1830s.
When Candelaria spoke, he said the demonstration was about acknowledging the effects of Junipero Serra, who he called a "monster," but also emphasized that people, "should be talking more about Yoscolo than Serra."
Candelaria explained that when Indigenous Californians feel pain in response to the naming of Serra as a saint, they are experiencing a "double layer of trauma," because they are still feeling the devastating effects of colonization. When individuals push for the canonization of Junipero Serra, they are "erasing the true stories" of what happened at Mission Dolores, he said.
Access to documents that reveal the brutal reality of "life" at the missions is still restricted by the the Catholic church, Candelaria said, which reveals the enormous power the system continues to exert over Indigenous Californians today.
"The missions are dividing our people by holding back the access to information," he said. "Some people are held as credible Ohlones, or not, because of access to that information."
|Wicahpiluta Candelaria and Yolosco|
When Ohlone elder Ruth Orta addressed the group at the demonstration, she began by saying that she was, "one unhappy Catholic."
"This is a really complex issue," Corrina Gould said. "There are a lot of people that are California Indians that are Catholic because of the colonization that has happened here."
"Junipero Serra is not a Latino. Junipero Serra is a colonizer from Spain, and those lies need to be stopped," she said. "People are being pulled apart in different communities because they are telling these lies that Junipero Serra was a Latino."
"This isn't about Catholicism, this is about a human right," Gould said. "That we have the right as sovereign nations to stand on our own land and make our own determinations about who we are and who we pray to."
"So what we want to do today, is we want to stand together in an interfaith way to say prayers for the ancestors who died here, who died because of the colonization of the Catholic Church," she said.
In defending the canonization of Serra, the Vatican has made statements claiming the European colonization of North American was "inevitable." The Pope himself has called Serra a "founding father" of America.
“He was one of the founding fathers of the United States, a saintly example of the Church’s universality and special patron of the Hispanic people of the country,” Pope Francis was quoted as saying during the May 2 Catholic celebration of Serra.
In California, the history of the mission system is taught as part of the standard curriculum in public schools, but it is far from an accurate portrayal of what actually happened, according to demonstrators at the Dolores Mission.
"The State of California teaches us the missions are cool," Corrina Gould said.
A consistent theme emphasized by speakers at the demonstration was the importance of changing the public's perception of the missions.
Speaker Monique Sonoquie, who is of Chumash ancestry, recommended people, "go into your schools, educate those teachers."
|Ruth Orta speaks|
A plaque on Mission Dolores notes that the building is located along El Camino Real, and an inscription from 1963 states, "This plaque is placed on the 250th anniversary of the birth of California's apostle Padre Junipero Serra O.F.M. to mark the northern terminus of El Camino Real as Padre Serra knew it and helped to blaze it."
El Camino Real is Spanish for "The Royal Road" and it is also known as "The King's Highway" or "The California Mission Trail." The 600-mile path historically connected California's 21 missions, four presidios, and three pueblos, which stretched from San Diego to Sonoma County. In actuality, any road controlled by the Spanish crown was called a "camino real."
|Mission Dolores with the Basilica in the background.|
|El Camino Real|
Descriptions of brutality can be found in Native responses to an inquiry directed by California Governor Don Diego. The following statements were given to Spanish soldiers by Indians who answered the question, “why did you leave Mission San Francisco?”
“My wife and daughter died, and on five separate occasions Father Danti ordered me whipped because I was crying. For this reason I fled,” Tibucio said.
“My motive for fleeing was that my brother died on the other shore, and when I cried for him at the mission they whipped me. Also the alcade Valeriano hit me with a heavy cane for having gone to look for mussels at the beach without Raymundo’s permission,” Homobono said.
“My mother, two brothers, and three nephews died, all of hunger. I left so I would not die also," Liborato said.
|Lisa Tiny Gray-Garcia|