Reservations, Removal, and Reform
The Mission Indian Agents of Southern California, 1878–1903
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
Inseparable from the history of the Indians of Southern California is the role of the Indian agent—a government functionary whose chief duty was, according to the Office of Indian Affairs, to “induce his Indian to labor in civilized pursuits.” Offering a portrait of the Mission Indian agents of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Reservations, Removal, and Reform reveals how individual agents interpreted this charge, and how their actions and attitudes affected the lives of the Mission Indians of Southern California.
This book tells the story of the government agents, both special and regular, who served the Mission Indians from 1850 to 1903, with an emphasis on seven regular agents who served from 1878 to 1903. Relying on the agents’ reports and correspondence as well as newspaper articles and court records, authors Valerie Sherer Mathes and Phil Brigandi create a vivid picture of how each man—each a political appointee tasked with implementing ever-changing policies crafted in far-off Washington, D.C.—engaged with the issues and events confronting the Mission Indians, from land tenure and water rights to education, law enforcement, and health care.
Providing a balanced, comprehensive view of the world these agents temporarily inhabited and the people they were called to serve, Reservations, Removal, and Reform deepens and broadens our understanding of the lives and history of the Indians of Southern California.
Valerie Sherer Mathes, Professor Emerita of City College of San Francisco. Among the books she has authored or edited are Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Reform Legacy and The Indian Reform Letters of Helen Hunt Jackson.
Phil Brigandi was an independent scholar who specialized in the history of Southern California, especially Orange County, and for thirty years served as the historian for the Ramona Pageant.
“Reservations, Removal, and Reform is recommended reading for anyone interested in California Indian history. This important contribution to history provides a balanced view of the reformers and scalawags who served as Mission Indian agents.”—Albert L. Hurtado, author of Indian Survival on the California Frontier
“Reservations, Removal, and Reform is a comprehensive and commanding portrait of the federal government’s Mission Indian agents in the critical final quarter of the nineteenth century. Told here is a story of conflicting loyalties, unrelenting pressures, and the shifting tides of state and federal Indian policies. Told equally well is the gripping story of the Native people of California struggling to survive in their ancestral homelands rendered now into an alien world. Highly recommended.”—James J. Rawls, author of Indians of California: The Changing Image