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A Deeper Dive into the Mission Period and Its Legacy: A Speaker Series

In Spring 2021, in collaboration with Old Mission Santa Barbara, we presented a 6-part series that explored the Mission period, the interaction between Franciscan Friars and Native Peoples in California, and the legacy of those experiences. View the recordings below.
As part of our Franciscan values, we value peace and justice, and strive for reconciliation through facing our history and providing a platform for diverse voices to engage in discussion.

Junípero Serra: The Statues, the Myths, and the Man - Dr. Robert M. Senkewicz

Dr. Robert M. Senkewicz, Professor Emeritus of History at Santa Clara University, tells a multifaceted story of Junípero Serra and his legacy across more than two centuries. By understanding that he has often been viewed through a series of different and conflicting perspectives, we can better understand what he meant in his own time and means in ours.


Robert M Senkewicz is Professor of History Emeritus at Santa Clara University. Together with Rose Marie Beebe he has written a number of books on early California. They include Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California (2001), Testimonios: Early California through the Eyes of Women (2006), and Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary (2015). Their current project is the life and writings of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo (1808-1890). Bob spent fourteen years on the Board of Directors of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library, including seven as the board's Chair.

Coping with Radical Change: The Intersection of Indians, Franciscans, and Soldiers on the California Frontier during the Mission Era - Dr. James (Jim) Sandos

In this presentation, Professor Sandos will discuss the impact of the Missions in California specifically during the Mission Era (1769-1836). Drawing on life stories from the Mission registers, he will explore adaptations and resistance within indigenous communities. He will focus on the creation of a Mission Indian elite that occurred along with the continuing practice of tribal customs. He will also address the impact of disease, the charges of Spanish genocide, and Indian enslavement in California.


Jim Sandos has published on California missions and mission Indians for over thirty-five years. His “Junípero Serra’s Canonization and the Historical Record,” an award-winning essay in The American Historical Review (1988), was the first to raise the question of the use of historical evidence to advance Serra’s canonization (sainthood). Jim authored the well-reviewed and widely distributed book, Converting California: Indians and Franciscans in the Missions (Yale University Press, 2004 hard cover; 2008 paper). In 2010, his wife Tish joined him as collaborator. Together, Jim and Tish have produced two essays for the SBMAL.

Who Were Those Guys?  Franciscan Friars in Santa Barbara after Colonial Times - Father Jack Clark Robinson, OFM

Old Mission Santa Barbara has been the destination of hundreds of Franciscan friars ever since the founding of the Mission in the 1780s, the origins of those friars have varied greatly. The first friars came from Mexico, but were not all Mexicans.  Friars later came as laymen from the Gold Rush, as German immigrants through the Midwest, and in recent times from far corners of the world. This lecture will look at some of their fascinating stories. 


Father Jack Clark Robinson is a Franciscan friar, who has spent over thirty years studying and trying to teach the history of his brothers in the United States lives in Albuquerque.  He earned a Ph.D. in U.S. History from UC Santa Barbara while having the pleasure of living here in the Old Mission.  His Franciscan Friars: Coast to Coast (Arcadia Press) was published in 2019.  He is currently at work on a history of Franciscan men in the United States from 1800 to the present.

Chumash Transformations: Cultural Change and Continuity during Mission Times - Dr. John R. Johnson

What was Chumash life like before Spanish colonization? How did Chumash people cope and adapt to the profound changes that occurred following the establishment of the missions and presidio? Although the broad outlines of cultural transformation have been understood for years, a more nuanced history of cultural change and continuity emerges from detailed research using archival records preserved in the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library and elsewhere.


John R. Johnson, Ph.D., Curator of Anthropology Dr. John Johnson has served as Curator of Anthropology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History for 35 years. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology at UCSB in 1988. For seventeen years, he has taught an annual course on California Indians at UCSB, where he holds an appointment as Adjunct Professor of Anthropology. Dr. Johnson has served on the Board of Directors for the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library since 1993. His written contributions include more than 100 studies regarding the cultures, history, and prehistory of California’s native peoples, especially emphasizing the Chumash Indians of the Santa Barbara region. 

Chumash Perspectives on the Legacy of the California Missions

Speakers: Ernestine Ygnacio DeSoto and Dr. Niki Sandoval Moderator: Dr. Monica Orozco

Shaping Inclusive Approaches to Early California History: New Work on Public Education, Commemoration, & Exhibitions

Speakers: Dr. Steven Hackel, Dr. Monica Orozco, and Dr. Niki Sandoval

Moderator: Dr. Anne Petersen

In this panel discussion, Ernestine Ygnacio DeSoto, (Barbareño Band of Chumash Indians) and Dr. Niki Sandoval (Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians) will share their perspectives on the California Mission period, it’s impact on their communities, and what it means for them today. Session moderated by Old Mission Santa Barbara Executive Director, Monica Orozco.


Ernestine Ygnacio De Soto is a Barbareño Chumash elder whose DNA stretches back 13,000 years; her family can be documented in Santa Barbara from the Mission era to the present. Great-great grandmother, Maria Ygnacia, farmed the Indian Orchard in San Marcos Pass through the 1900s. Ernestine’s mother, Mary Yee, was the last fluent speaker of the Barbareño Chumash language. Throughout Ernestine’s childhood she heard spoken Chumash. Her mother told stories full of mottos/lessons to guide her through life. Ernestine wrote and illustrated one such tale, The Sugar Bear, for children.  She has lectured on Chumash culture since 1981, after writing family history for a Native Studies class at SBCC it was made into film “6 Generations”.  Ernestine has lived a life of service: working in the medical profession for 40+ years, founding the Barbareño Band of Chumash Indians, is active in the Mission community to preserve Chumash culture/language, mentors students, scholars, and museums with research, and is an advisor to the Museum of Natural History. Ernestine dedicates her life to preserving Chumash heritage for future generations. 

Dr. Sandoval is Senior Strategic Development Manager for WestEd, a research, development, and service agency working throughout the United States and abroad to improve educational outcomes for children, youth, and adults. She also serves as Education Director for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians (2009-2020), she worked in partnership with tribal government leaders to refine education policies and strategic educational investments, including school readiness, educational attainment, and career transitions.  She is a Continuing Lecturer in the Department of Education at UC Santa Barbara where she engages undergraduates in the examination of equity issues in education. A Trustee of the Santa Barbara Foundation since 2013, she served two terms as a member of the California State Board of Education (2013-2020). Her career began at the J. Paul Getty Museum of Art and continued at the Smithsonian Institution, where she held the position of Assistant Director of Community Services for the National Museum of the American Indian. Sandoval holds a Ph.D. in Education from University of California at Santa Barbara, M.A. in Museum Studies from the George Washington University, and B.A. in Public Relations from Pepperdine University.

In 2021 we continue to navigate a global pandemic and a nation-wide social justice reckoning that includes the toppling of statues and other public monuments. We also have a collective opportunity to prepare for a future that reflects the world we want to live in. In this panel discussion we will explore the ongoing work of Native people on historical representation, new approaches to commemoration by historians, and new exhibition strategies in museums to create a more inclusive history of Early California.


Born and raised in California, Steven W. Hackel earned his B.A. at Stanford University and his Ph.D. in American History from Cornell University with specializations in early America and the American West.  From 1994 to 1996 he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture in Williamsburg, Virginia. He taught at Oregon State University from 1996 to 2007 and joined the faculty at UCR in the fall of 2007.  Within the larger field of American history, Hackel's research specializes on the Spanish Borderlands and the California Missions.  He is especially interested in Native responses to colonialism, the effects of disease on colonial encounters, and new ways of visualizing these processes through digital history.  His publications include a biography on Fray Junípero Serra, a monograph on the California missions, numerous essays, a textbook, and two edited volumes.  He is the general editor of the Early California Population Project and the Project Director for the Early California Cultural Atlas.  He co-curated the Huntington Library’s international exhibition, “Junípero Serra and the Legacy of the California Missions.”  He currently is co-chair of the Early Modern Studies Institute’s Seminar on the Spanish Borderlands.  His current work involves a study of immigration and community formation in California before 1850.


Dr. Anne Petersen holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and American Ethnic Studies from the University of Washington; an M.A. in American Civilization and Museum Studies from Brown University; and a Ph.D. in Public History from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She has interned at history museums large and small across the country. Petersen has worked for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) for the last twenty years in several capacities, including Curator and Associate Director, and has held the position of Executive Director for the last four years. Among other project, SBTHP operates El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park for California State Parks. Petersen has served on the board of directors of the Goleta Valley Historical Society, including a three-year term as President, and she currently serves as Vice President on the board of Downtown Santa Barbara. She is also a proud 2015 graduate of the AASLH Seminar for Historical Administration. Petersen is especially interested in the ways historic sites can become more responsive community resources and she champions the role of public historians in helping communities manage change.

SBMAL is open to researchers by appointment only.
NEW HOURS for 2024! Research hours are now available on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 10:00am to 4:00pm.

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