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  • Writer's pictureJohn Thompson

Slanderous Accusations About Serra y Los Indios

Anti Catholic efforts of the KKK and other groups here on California's Central Coast intentionally misrepresent Blessed Serra as well as the native families he knew. These efforts peaked in the Twenties but continued into the Thirties, and included false accusations against both Serra and indigenous Catholics.

Examination of the so called French "Scientific" Expedition of 1786 reveal intentionally deceptive narratives. In Carmel during the Depression Dr Hassis headed a WPA Writer's Project that interviewed self proclaimed descendents of "Mission Indians." The original articles on these topics by Navas Rey and Hoffman disappeared and were replaced by fake narratives later in that decade, most probably Anti Catholic Propoganda.

The tragic fate of Ms Navas Rey, a Catholic who graduated from Paris University before moving to Carmel , is outlined in an article in 1989, and was followed by a long feature article on Serra and the founding of Carmel Mission ( reprinted on line at Secret History of Carmel by John Thompson, with the cover showing the famed eight star window of the Church aligned to the Summer Solstice).


As a Literary Specialist, my intent is to use Cognitive Linguistics (see wiki) and Lexigraphic Analysis to study these accounts, using the methodologies of UCB Cog Int Prof George Lakoff, Stanford Prof Ivan Sag, and UCSF Psych Prof Paul Ekman. By googling the careers of these three famous language specialist, one can see their expertise.

In regards to how Blessed Serra communicated with coastal native people ("Coastanoans" en espanol), Spanish words (phonems) were a small part of how he thought, spoke and acted with natives. Much of it was with compassionate eye movements, the purity of vowel sounds, soft or loud tones in synch with kind facial and hand expressions, body language, and so many other language factors. These non-grapheme non-phoneme language usages were very highly evolved in native people, and if Franciscans spoke unkindly or deceptive, "Los Indios" would be aware of it, and suggest their friends and family avoid that person. Dr. Ekman is America's greatest expert on the Detection Of Deceit" in all forms of human communication. (see him or Lakoff or Sag on youtube, or read samples of their work on line). Using their methods I see some indication of intentional "Overly Favorable Impressions" in how Father Palou (1723-1789) writes about his dear friend Serra in Carmel, and Palou does not vilify natives in his accounts. In contrast to this one can detect patterns of deceit in what the alleged French "scientist" Peroue wrote in 1784. {Which Breshini uses extensively in his 2009 "Esselen Indians of the Big Sur Country" without any criticism of its inaccuracies)Perouse poses as the leader of a French "Scientific Expedition" that landed in Monterey, perhaps with the secret intention of studying military installations at the Presidio just above the Bay. From there some of the group travel south to the Carmel Mission, over terrain they describe as mostly flat with few trees, contrary to the real topography. Their hasty description of the Spanish Franciscans they meet is entirely unconvincing, not giving their names or showing their faces in illustrations. Local natives are shown "lined up" before the mission, behind them a group of forty small grass huts on fairly flat terrain with no trees, shrubs or agricultural areas.There are no notes on their culture, language, music or dance. There condition is not depicted favorably, with some mention of natives being punished by imprisonment in iron chains. No mention is made of their family and friends upset by this or protesting such measures from the Franciscans. Native people are mostly shown as complacent and indifferent to the harsh conditions described. The so called "scientists" conduct no accounts of flora, fauna, the rich wild life in the estuary minutes away from the Mission, or the prevalence of potential food there or acorns in the area having been harvested and kept in meticulously made baskets. Deceit is also evident in accounts in the alleged WPA Writers Project, that supposedly uses un-named descendants of native people. The two names attributed to these accounts are credited to Irwin & Hazard 1939-1940, whose pages on the History Of Carmel Indians is extremely biased and misleading. Their unrealistic paragraphs of coastal natives contain no factual details or events that can be substantiated, and give a very unfavorable impression of natives and Franciscans. The account also mentions nothing of language, music, bows and arrows, baskets, details of clothing, natural sources of food, games or anyone simply enjoying activities with friends and family. Thus this article cites key quotations from the alleged WPA Project, with some samples of linguistic "decoding" of "blame attribution" in those poorly written paragraphs. Over 23 years ago writer Rosalind Sharpe Wall showed others this bogus manuscript kept in her files. She had a BA in California Native Studies from Sonoma State, was a student of Jaime de Angulo until his death here from prostate cancer in 1950. Rosalind's parents studied Esselen Culture when they lived in Big Sur on Mill Creek pre WWII, and her grandmother in Carmel studied native spirituality here in the 1920s. This family was well known to Pre WWII Mayor Keith & Virginia Evans of Carmel/Big Sur who knew De Angulo and studied local tribal traditions from this well known scholar of native Californians and six of their languages. Virginia, who died a few years ago at over 100, was the last of Ishi's friends, and she collected his artifacts. Her father was Ishi's beloved physician Dr Saxon Pope, whose writings on this famous survivor of the Indian holocaust are in "The Last Yahi" (1979) pages 172-242. Virginia and her dad are depicted on the film version of Ishi's life. Thus the Evans and Rosalind were among sources in "Secret History Of Carmel" written for local newspapers 1989-1993. That book has a photo of the Mission window on the cover, and the long first chapter on Serra & the Mission can be read for free on Amazon by googling that title. PART ONE Within the field of Cognitive Linguistics are techniques to decode "intentional deception" within written disclosures. America's leading authority on the Detection Of Deceit in narrations is Psychiatry Prof. Paul Ekman (UCSF retired). By applying his methods to scrutinize use/misuse of syntax rules, grammatical shapes, and "deceit by omission" (wiki), key verb phrases, choices of nouns etc.fraudulent references can be examined. During the Depression Dr. Hassis of Carmel, from an office above the Post Office, in downtown Carmel, led a WPA Writers' Project on local history. Writings by some contributors, including Hassis, Yvonne Navas Rey, and Allan Hoffman are missing, replaced by inaccurate pages allegedly written by Eleanor Irwin and Gail Hazard. The two women choose to not name the sources of the stories they claim are from descendants of Mission Indians 150 years earlier, who are referred to as their "grandparents." As native women often became grandparents around 40, it is absurd for someone to claim their unnamed grandparents were adults in 1780. These alleged grandchildren in 1940 report's highly biased tales on the Mission Indians and Serra, giving no verifiable information on the Franciscan who founded the California Missions. Irwin & Hazard's writings show poor literary skills, no experience in journalism, and no evidence of having studied writing, history or anthropology in any college. Basic standards in those professions during the Depression are not followed. The biased opening of their manuscript on Local Indian Stories begins by claiming "California Indians were full of rude superstitions when the Franciscan Fathers first began to teach them...some of the most persistent stories were about devil worship. "Shatan" in Hebrew, meaning deceiver/adversary, is not just a personification of evil in the Old Testament. This Satan never kills anyone in the Torah. In the New Testament Greek "Dia.bolos", meaning to "overthrow god", is not just "sin" personified. The term d'evil translated as of evil." Thus Irwin & Hazard state that local natives "worshiped " EVIL. This absurd claim also assumes that local tribes all thought alike, and shared identical beliefs on just what and was not "Evil", which they found worthy of devotional reverence. The two women falsely claim the indigenous "god" was Cooksey, but do not explain the meaning of that word. Indians built "altars" to that god, which they don't describe, "throwing something on top" which also are not named, but they say the people called "pooish" ( On October 30 1939 when this second page was written "poo" was a common term for excrement). "They called on their god by a series of strange and wild whistles...the god making his appearance in the fire while they worshiped...taking the form of a large serpent...or a bull with great fiery eyes." {The were no bulls in California before the Spaniards brought them) Page three, written on May 18 1939 but not stamped till Nov. 19 1939 with the Writers Project Seal, describes "a tribe of ghosts lived between the Monterey Mission and the Carmel Mission" but they were "not bad...merely lost ghosts...the Indians liked these ghosts and felt sorry for them...calling them fog ghosts." The word for "ghost" is not given, nor any description of them, which the writers later call "invisable". Yet they say the "fathers" {Franciscans like Serra} were "shocked" and "feared" these ghosts that the devil worshiping Indians liked.

PART TWO (page 5) "The fathers were very angry at these Indians and swore the Indians were bad and would be punished for their wickedness...hunted them out and did punish them. So the Indians went back to the woods." (Page 8 GAME OF FORKED STICKS) involved " these spirits were evil spirits...they were invisible...most of the time.' (page 10) ROLE OF MISSION CHURCH..."priests and Indians lived poorly indeed...the miserable Indians...sleeping quarters were very dirty, full of fleas, and the food was of the poorest quality and often was not enough of it to satisfy...the half starved Indians. Their work was one benefited from it." "THE BANNERS" "Indians accepted Christianity with comparative ease, and on the whole were docile" { Local tribes spoke various dialects that did express a higher power, a super conscious creator that offered spirits choices, and was interconnected to all living things through eternal life, but Indians did not have words corresponding to the Old Testament Jehovah who said he was "an angry and jealous god" and whose punishments caused the sufferings and deaths of many creatures, such as the flood myth.} There is no evidence that most natives converted to Christianity or could grasp its Catholic dogmas, and no evidence they were passive or lazy. Yet the un-named source allegedly states the Indians "did not like to work...were afraid of the priests. In my grandfather's village" these fear causing priests" held up pictures of two Indians, one burning with fire, and the other being blessed by the father and would be happy and content." "If the Indians didn't work {raised foods alien to their territory, built structures etc}...the fathers would set fire to them." Irwin & Hazard wrote that most Indians were "docile" and did NOT leave the area of the Mission, protecting their family and friends from these threats and abuse. The area just below the Mission was a vast estuary rich in wild life, edible herbs, sea weed sea grapes, shell fish and ocean life that had sustained natives for thousands of years. (page 21; January 24 1940 Gail & Hazard write :} "So the Indians soon were hungry too and there was much talk of killing the fathers." Yet this states the natives did not leave the area to eat their traditional food minutes away , bring it to their families or to Serra & others.. The un-named grandchild of these natives refers to her ancestor or another man as Juan, though " I do not know the name of the Indian, I shall call him Juan" {a Spanish name, not name from the local dialect.} "My grandfather had a {un-named} sister who was very young and very attractive...she was finely built and very clean...who said I do not like the Mission or the fathers." The girl describes a dying Father Serra saying "We have conquered California...we have made it our own...we have saved the land from sin and paganism." PART THREE In Palou's first hand account { Relacion 272} it states that many attended the dying Serra, and he was not alone with a young girl. "It seems the entire population of the surrounding Essalen and Coastanoan villages soon gathered at the Mission, drawn by the death bells...there was great crying" for he was "more esteemed by them than if he had been their natural father". Placed in a redwood coffin, and called Santo Padre, Benito Padre, the mourners murmured touching his face and hands with their rosary beads and medals."

In the Irwin & Hazard text from 1940 Serra never coughs or bleeds from the mouth from the TB that killed him. Instead he can speak clearly, saying "Don't be afraid of me child...touch my hand...come child...his eyes were like flames." "Do not touch me !" Dolores screamed, "her eyes black with fear and the loathing of the man" who Serra then said "cooked for me and served me so faithfully'. Serra then got up from his bed and came at the girl....(yelling) I do not want to die...the father's spirit then left his body and swirled around the room...howling with savage glee." The girl then "bent down and kissed the father" (whose spirit she just saw howling savagely} "and went from the room...several days later she was dead,,,found under a tall tree." In very simple minded sentences, lacking details of Serra's medical condition, the room he lay in, the others there at his death . The girl admits to the dying old man that she had always deceived him into believing she was fond of him; that she deceptively felt compassion for his painful illness and intense final suffering. The narrative of these 1940 accounts always depicts Serra and the Franciscans as cruel, using the tribal people as slaves to grow food and build stone walls, etc. Yet these exploited slave like Indians do not mostly leave the Franciscans to protect themselves and their loved ones from harm. Natives are not shown performing dances, singing, playing games, sharing sea food, or demonstrating any affection for one another. We wish to thank John Thompson for his contribution and it is reprinted as submitted without editorial comment or change.

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