the degradation of the environment (massive clearing of forests, siltation of river systems, loss of wildlife game and draining of marshlands) that adversely affected the natives.
The native population of California just a few centuries ago was so diverse that about 500 independent different tribal groups were identified by anthropologists (ibid. 3) in the area. However, the tragedy was that much of this local culture was lost forever with very few items and artifacts left to record their way of life due to the forced assimilation adopted by settlers. As a result, although the native population had risen after 1900, that population had lost much of its ethnic purity with most of natives half-breed (mixed marriages and broken traditions). Linguistic diversity was also lost with many unable to speak their native tongues.
This essay tries to look back at those times and examine the effects of two groups of settlers – the Spaniards and the Russians. Each group had a different purpose of going to the area and therefore had a different impact on the lives of the natives. This paper also looks at a specific aspect of native life during that bygone era and gives brief contrast with the Western way of life and the valuable lessons that could have been learned by everyone.
The recorded history of California (as viewed from Western eyes) begun with Spanish religious missions together with settlers and soldiers. The missions and the presidios usually were built near other in case of attacks from the coast or from the native Indians and later on grew into pueblos (small towns). The presidios were actually small forts where soldiers were posted so they can aid the mission in case they were under threat. These structures survived to this day and are among the most visited tourist sites. These relics and monuments of Spanish colonization form a chain of 21 missions built along El Camino Rey (The Royal Highway) and considered as the refuge of religion and serenity while