The author's considerable gift as a writer and admirable empathy with the subject and the different (and opposing) actors are two notable qualities that make "Indigenous Apostles" a compelling read. Revealing both the inner workings of Maya society and the research process of a superb mind, this book deserves the widest possible readership.
Jean Meyer, Centre for Research and Teaching in Social Sciences, Mexico City.
Stockel also explores Jesuit and Franciscan attempts to maintain their missions on New Spain's northern frontier during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. She focuses on how international political and economic forces shaped the determination of the priests to mold the Apaches into Christians and tax-paying citizens of the Empire. Diseases, warfare, interpersonal relations, and an overwhelming number of surrendered Chiricahuas at the missions, along with reduced supplies from Mexico City, forced the missionaries to use every means to continue their efforts at conversion, including deporting the Apaches to Cuba and selling others to Christian families on the colonial frontier.
The texts included in this work are diverse. Their authors range from Spanish ecclesiastics to native assistants, from Catholics to Methodists, and from sixteenth-century Nahuas to nineteenth-century Maya. Although translated from its native language into English, each text illustrates the impact of European and native cultures on its content. Medieval tales popular in Europe are transformed to accommodate a New World native audience, biblical figures assume native identities, and texts admonishing Christian behavior are tailored to meet the demands of a colonial native population. Moreover, the book provides the first translation and analysis of a Methodist catechism written in Yucatec Maya to convert the Maya of Belize and Yucatan. Ultimately, readers are offered an uncommon opportunity to read for themselves the translated Christianities that Nahuatl and Maya texts contained.
Franciscan missionary friar Junípero Serra (1713–1784), one of the most widely known and influential inhabitants of early California, embodied many of the ideas and practices that animated the Spanish presence in the Americas. In this definitive biography, translators and historians Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz bring this complex figure to life and illuminate the Spanish period of California and the American Southwest.
In Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary, Beebe and Senkewicz focus on Serra’s religious identity and his relations with Native peoples. They intersperse their narrative with new and accessible translations of many of Serra’s letters and sermons, which allows his voice to be heard in a more direct and engaging fashion.
Serra spent thirty-four years as a missionary to Indians in Mexico and California. He believed that paternalistic religious rule offered Indians a better life than their oppressive exploitation by colonial soldiers and settlers, which he deemed the only realistic alternative available to them at that time and place. Serra’s unswerving commitment to his vision embroiled him in frequent conflicts with California’s governors, soldiers, native peoples, and even his fellow missionaries. Yet because he prevailed often enough, he was able to place his unique stamp on the first years of California’s history.
Beebe and Senkewicz interpret Junípero Serra neither as a saint nor as the personification of the Black Legend. They recount his life from his birth in a small farming village on Mallorca. They detail his experiences in central Mexico and Baja California, as well as the tumultuous fifteen years he spent as founder of the California missions. Serra’s Franciscan ideals are analyzed in their eighteenth-century context, which allows readers to understand more fully the differences and similarities between his world and ours. Combining history, culture, and linguistics, this new study conveys the power and nuance of Serra’s voice and, ultimately, his impact on history.