This article reinterprets the 1785 Indian rebellion at Mission San Gabriel in Alta California by reexamining the testimony of the Indians accused of leading this uprising. For decades, scholarly and popular discussions of this event have focused on the role of Toypurina, an Indian woman implicated in the rebellion. This essay, however, clarifies the roles played by Toypurina,Nicolás José, and others in the rebellion and emphasizes the importance of eyewitness native accounts to early California history. Through a careful use of the mission's birth, marriage, and burial records, this study also uncovers key moments in the lives of the rebels. These two sources—Indian testimony and mission registers—help to suggest the rebellion's diverse origins: the mission Indians' anger at the Spaniards for the suppression of their ceremonies and the frustration among some Gabrielinos that the creation of the mission and the congregation of hundreds of Indians at that one location constituted a threat to existing Gabrielino boundaries of land use and settlement. The article concludes that an understanding of colonial California rests not only upon a study of Indian-Spanish relations but on an examination of the interactions between individuals and among groups of Indians as well.
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Steven W. Hackel; Sources of Rebellion: Indian Testimony and the Mission San Gabriel Uprising of 1785. Ethnohistory 1 October 2003; 50 (4): 643–669. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-50-4-643
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