So now the Indians, like bereft children, knew not what to do, and, naturally, they did what our own children would do. Led by want and hunger, some sought and found work and food, and others, alas, became thieves. The Mission establishment was the organized institution that had cared for them, and had provided the work that supported them. No longer able to go and live “wildly” as of old, they were driven to evil methods by necessity unless the new government directed their energies into right channels. Few attempted to do this; hence the results that were foreseen by the padres followed.
July 7, 1846, saw the Mexican flag in California hauled down, and the Stars and Stripes raised in its place; but as far as the Indian was concerned, the change was for the worse instead of the better. Indeed, it may truthfully be said that the policies of the three governments, Spanish, Mexican, and American, have shown three distinct phases, and that the last is by far the worst.
Our treatment of these Indians reads like a hideous nightmare. Absolutely no forceful and effective protest seems to have been made against the indescribable wrongs perpetrated. The gold discoveries of 1849 brought into the country a class of adventurers, gamblers, liquor sellers, and camp followers of the vilest description. The Indians became helpless victims in the hands of these infamous wretches, and even the authorities aided to make these Indians “good.”
Bartlett, who visited the country in 1850 to 1853, tells of meeting with an old Indian at San Luis Rey who spoke glowingly of the good times they had when the padres were there, but “now,” he said, “they were scattered about, he knew not where, without a home or protectors, and were in a miserable, starving condition.” Of the San Francisco Indians he says:
“They are a miserable, squalid-looking set, squatting or lying about the corners of the streets, without occupation. They have now no means of obtaining a living, as their lands are all taken from them; and the Missions for which they labored, and which provided after a sort for many thousands of them, are abolished. No care seems to be taken of them by the Americans; on the contrary, the effort seems to be to exterminate them as soon as possible.”
According to the most conservative estimates there were over thirty thousand Indians under the control of the Missions at the time of secularization in 1833. To-day, how many are there? I have spent long days in the different Mission localities, arduously searching for Indians, but oftentimes only to fail of my purpose. In and about San Francisco, there is not one to be found. At San Carlos Borromeo, in both Monterey and the Carmelo Valley, except for a few half-breeds, no one of Indian blood can be discovered. It is the same at San Miguel, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara. At Pala, that romantic chapel, where once the visiting priest from San Luis Rey found