Saturday, February 5, 2011

Two Missions

Crossing Imperial County – Stops 13 & 14

The Spanish took the high ground for these two missions for the Colorado River in its untethered days would flood vast reaches of land. Unlike the coastal ‘successes’ and subjects of countless California fourth grader mission models, the Quechan people refused to be subjugated in the same manner and destroyed both in a coordinated attack.  

To protect the Anza Trail where it forded the Colorado River, the Spanish founded a pueblo and mission nearby on January 7, 1781. Threatened with the loss of their land, the Quechans (Yumas) attacked this strategic settlement on July 17, 1781. The Quechan victory closed this crossing and seriously crippled future communications between upper California and Mexico.

Location: On County Road S24, 0.2 miles West of intersection of Levee and Mehring Roads, 4.4 miles NE of Bard. Google maps: 32.816656,-114.517117
Mission San Pedro is 19 miles from Hernando de Alarcon

A suggestion while roaming about this area would be to head west from landmark #921 on
Mehring Road
then south on York to the Imperial Date Gardens about a mile and a half away for friendly staff and a date shake.

Next is the drive to the Ft. Yuma site at the Yuma crossing and the location of our second mission. The structure here is the St. Thomas Indian Church, and white plaster and panorama take one away to an earlier place and time. Add to this a wedding is in progress, with embroidered white cotton with the men in guayabera shirts. It was a perfect time to drop by.   

In October 1780, Father Francisco Garcés and companions began Mission La Purísima Concepción. The mission/pueblo site was inadequately supported. Colonists ignored Indian rights, usurped the best lands, and destroyed Indian crops. Completely frustrated and disappointed, the Quechans (Yumas) and their allies destroyed Concepción on July 17-19, 1781.

Location:  St. Thomas Indian Mission, Indian Hill on Picacho Rd, Fort Yuma, 1 miles South of Winterhaven
Google maps: 32.730523,-114.615791
Mission La Purisima is 12 miles from Mission San Pedro

Here’s a link to a video sample of the spoken song ‘Two Missions’

TWO MISSIONS        © Radio Flier Music

This is a story of the Quechan or Yuma Indians and the two Spanish missions in the Imperial Valley many years ago.

The Indians were farmers and had cultivated the lands along the Colorado River for many years.  The Spanish came and were to build two pueblo style missions unlike the large and fortified missions along the coast.  At first the relationship between the Indians and Spanish was good, and for a time things were peaceful.

Soldiers and their families and settlers and priests along with livestock came and the Indians could no longer settle where they wanted.  Certain lands were reserved for the Spaniards.  Also, it was a dry year and there was a shortage of food.

Lieutenant Fernando Rivera who went to defend the two settlements sent many of the pioneers back to the coast but the livestock remained.  Hundreds of head of cattle, horses, and sheep were allowed to graze on the Indian's crops.

Finally, on July 17th 1781 the Quechan attacked and destroyed the tiny settlements, killed Rivera, beat four missionaries to death with war clubs, and killed many Spanish soldiers.

As a result of the Yuma revolt of 1781 the Anza trail was closed. Colonists would have to go north in crowded packet boats across the Sea of Cortez. 

And the desert was quiet

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