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Saints and CitizensIndigenous Histories of Colonial Missions and Mexican California$
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Lisbeth Haas

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780520276468

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520276468.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

“We Solicit Our Freedom”

“We Solicit Our Freedom”

Citizenship and the Patria

(p.140) 5 “We Solicit Our Freedom”
Saints and Citizens

Lisbeth Haas

University of California Press

Exercising indigenous citizenship in California depended on being emancipated from the missions, a process that began in 1826. The state articulated one vision of what emancipation would mean, and indigenous people expressed another. Whereas emancipation in the Americas is commonly associated with the freeing of enslaved people of African descent, this chapter shows how it also involved Indian peoples held in the unfree condition of neofia at the missions. After almost nine years, during which native communities developed a politics of emancipation, the territorial government passed the final Emancipation and Secularization Decree in 1834. Historians have discussed the importance of secularization, but not the significance of emancipation. Native visions of emancipation involved indigenous claims to their former territories, the missions proper, and the condition of “freedom.” The state took possession of the indigenous territories that had formed the missions, and many indigenous people remained at and around the missions and demanded their rights under the 1834 law. Their attire and the compensation they received marked their new status, but inequity and violence against Indians remained normative. The book argues that these claims to ancestral and historical indigenous space formed an important dimension of native politics in the early national era. It reaffirms the role of the missions as indigenous spaces of authority and memory.

Keywords:   indigenous citizenship, unfree labor, postemancipation society, liberalism nineteenth century mexico, postcolonial history

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