A decade ago, when I published On the Padres’ Trail (Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1997), the first volume of three regarding the history of Indian Catholics in North America, I thought that I had touched sufficient bases of evidence concerning the Franciscan missions of Alta California, 1769 – 1850. Steven W. Hackel’s new book shows how much more there was to read, and how much has been written on the topic in the last ten years. Children of Coyote, Missionaries of Saint Francis is an impressive feat of historical documentation and deserves applause. It is all the more impressive for its reasoned tone, a change from the “highly polemical scholarship on the missions of colonial California” (p. vii). Focusing on Mission San Carlos Borromeo but including data from many of the missions, Hackel employs statistical tables and copious footnotes instead of rhetorical...

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