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Engendering the History of Alta California


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Engendering the History of Alta California

  1. 1. “Engendering the History of Alta California, 1769-1848: Gender, Sexuality, and the Family” A REVIEW OF ANTONIA I. CASTAÑEDA’SARTICLE BY SARAH MACEDO"Engendering the History of Alta California" by Antonia I. Castañeda
  2. 2. IntroductionBecause California has been a part of the United States for over 150 years, it is easy to forget that where we live was once a part of New Spain. One of the largest reminders of this era is the California Mission system established by the Catholic Church to convert and “Hispanicize” the Native Americans. While researching into this period of our history, I found this article. It stood out to me because it looks at the era from the perspective of the Native American women, a perspective that is harder to find."Engendering the History of Alta California" by Antonia I. Castañeda
  3. 3. Article’s General Premise The article analyzes the role that Native and Mestiza women had in Alta California society during the time of Spanish and Mexican rule. In addition to looking at the acts against the women that shaped their place in society (such as the sexual and violent attacks against the native women by early Spaniards), Castañeda looks at how the women used their own sexuality to influence and withstand the society around them. Building upon the works of other historians, such as Ramon Gutierrez, Castaneda continues the This is a painting of a California study of looking at early Alta woman grinding corn California history through the eyes of these minority women."Engendering the History of Alta California" by Antonia I. Castañeda
  4. 4. View of Women and Sexuality  Castañeda compares the European view of women and female sexuality with that expressed by the California Natives.  In Europe women were viewed with the main purpose of having children and maintaining a line of heritage.  Indigenous women had influence in many of the tribes. They were not only considered to have a role in the family but even took an active part in tribal proceedings.  Sexuality was also celebrated in Native American rituals whereas in Europe it was viewed as something to be controlled.  This meant that the Mission leaders viewed the indigenous views of sexuality (including things like polygamy, homosexuality, and pre-marital sex) as something in need of correction. The missionaries also placed grave importance on procreation and met the Native practices of things like abortion and infanticide with humiliating This is a page from the “First Book of Matrimony” where punishments.Father Junipero Serra recorded marriages that took place at the Mission."Engendering the History of Alta California" by Antonia I. Castañeda
  5. 5. Native American Women Using Their Sexuality  According to Castañeda, the ingenious women were also able to use their sexuality and power to influence other Native Californians as wells as the Spanish.  Women led attacks on the missions as well as steered their peers away from Christian conversions by using their ties as women with the spiritual world Native culture.  In addition, women would use their bodies and bodily fluids to gain the submission of men. As a result, many of the Spaniards interpreted these actions akin to those of witchery and sorcery "Engendering the History of Alta California" by Antonia I. Castañeda
  6. 6. “Hispanicized” Families  Just as in Europe, those who had immigrated into California viewed women as a means to maintain and replenish the population needed to provide labor and uphold the Spanish colonies.  This meant that while the Natives who married each other were heavily pressured and monitored to have children to replenish the labors, those living under Spanish rule (Spaniards, Native Californians, and Mexican alike) were promoted to participate in interracial marriages. The missions wanted to institute these families in order to establish how a Spanish, Christian family should behave.  In addition to supporting the marriages between the Natives and soldiers, officials also sent expeditions out exhibitions to recruit Hispanicized families, although often to limited success. They even went so far as to send children into families and arrange Drawing from 1971 titled “The Wife of marriages years before the woman was of a marrying age. a Monterey Soldier”"Engendering the History of Alta California" by Antonia I. Castañeda
  7. 7. Marriage Under Mexico  After California fell under Mexican rule, a new group of single men immigrated to California.  Over time, the nature of the marriage changed into being one of economic and social stability. One could marry to gain property.  Marriage also helped in creating alliances and gaining power.  The details of marriage, however, changed from region to region. The age of marriage for women ranged from 13-20 and the This is a drawing by Emanuel average family size from about Wyttenbach titled “A California four to seven children, depending on the location. This illustrates the Wedding Party of 1845” illustrating that difference in political and weddings were a large event in economic stability from region to California under Mexico region."Engendering the History of Alta California" by Antonia I. Castañeda
  8. 8. Women Fighting for Their Rights  Even as California became more and more European, some women still were able to take control of different aspects of their lives. Castaneda discusses individual women who were able to push for their own rights.  Cases of women defying their roles as widows and submissive wives can be found from this era as well. Some women even went as far to refuse marriage or publically accuse their husbands of adultery or other males of abuse.  There are even records of women This photograph of Juan Bandini and his daughter from a California Rancho trying to obtain justice in the illustrates the expected submissive Mexican legal system. behavior that women were supposed to have in this Patriarchal Society."Engendering the History of Alta California" by Antonia I. Castañeda
  9. 9. Works Cited Castañeda, Antonia I. “Engendering the History of Alta California, 1769-1848: Gender, Sexuality, and the Family.” California History, Vol. 76 (1997). Web. 5 Dec. 2011.All illustrations and photosused in this PowerPoint arefrom the article as well."Engendering the History of Alta California" by Antonia I. Castañeda