Father Junipero Serra has been lauded as the “Evangelizer of the West” and condemned by others as an obliterator of indigenous culture in California.
The 18th century Roman Catholic priest founded nine of California’s 21 Spanish missions and forced Native Americans to stay at those missions after they were converted or face brutal punishment.
The Spanish missionary’s legacy is complicated and controversial, and for Native Californians, it’s intensely personal and painful.
In July 2020, FOX40 spoke to Ronnie Gonzalez, a Miwok tribe descendant, after Serra’s statue was toppled during a protest in Sacramento.
Gonzalez told FOX40 she saw the statue’s destruction as a victory, and that she had been calling for the monument’s removal for years.
“We’re tired of asking for permission. We’re tired of compromising with people. So we’re not asking, we’re demanding,” explained Gonzalez. “It’s a disgrace for us that we have to drive past those statues every day and see people who committed genocide and torture on our people being glorified.”
Jesus Tarango, the Chairman of the Wilton Rancheria, will lead a coalition of the local Miwok tribes in a rally at the state Capitol Wednesday afternoon about AB 338.
The bill would remove the requirement for the state to maintain the monument of Serra.
The bill would authorize tribal nations in the Sacramento, California region, in consultation with the Department of General Services, to plan, construct, and maintain a monument to the California Native people on the grounds of the State Capitol.
Tarango joined Sonseeahray on FOX40 News at 11 a.m. to discuss why he’s leading the rally.