Talk given to the Episcopal Urban Caucus, spring 2002. Published by The Witness online. 12 pp.
Not too far from where we sit today, hidden at the heart of post-modern Los Angeles, surrounded by gleaming skyscrapers built by and for Big Capital, lies the placita, once the center of the old Mexican pueblo. Lying under spreading trees, ignored by the teeming tourists and new Latino immigrants who fill the plaza each day, is a plaque commemorating the founding of El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles sobre el rio de la Porciuncula, in November 1781. The plaque notes that of the original 22 adult pobladores who came from northern Mexico to colonize Los Angeles there were eight mulattos, eight Indians, two blacks, one mestizo — and only two Spaniards. In its first century Los Angeles was a sleepy Mexican and Indian village; in its second century, it grew into a world metropolis. But this plaque reminds us that from the very beginning this city has been a singularly MULTICULTURAL project.
Indeed, before Europeans arrived here California was a genuinely multicultural world–like the rest of Great Turtle Island made up of widely diverse but co-existing peoples, tribes and nations. California
had about 16% of the aboriginal population of the United States... Even at the minimum estimate of 130,000 (the figure has been placed as high as 700,000), the density of Indian population in California was three or four times greater than for the nation as a whole... The California Indians were a highly heterogenous lot. Some 22 linguistic systems and 138 different idioms have been recorded...the Indians were scattered in small land-owning, politically autonomous groups (McWilliams, 1946).
by Ched Myers
All articles on this site were written by Ched Myers unless otherwise specified.