cover of book

Narratives of Persistence: Indigenous Negotiations of Colonialism in Alta and Baja California
by Lee Panich
University of Arizona Press, 2020
Paper: 978-0-8165-4322-9 | Cloth: 978-0-8165-4077-8 | eISBN: 978-0-8165-4140-9
Library of Congress Classification E99.O32P36 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 979.4600497572


The Ohlone of the San Francisco Bay area and the Paipai of northern Baja California occupy opposite ends of the spectrum of Native Californian identities. Or so it would appear. While the Ohlone lack popular recognition and official acknowledgement from the United States government, the Paipai occupy a large reserve and celebrate their ongoing cultural traditions throughout Baja California and southern California. Yet the two groups share a similar colonial history: entanglements with early European explorers, labor and enculturation at Spanish missions, and sustained interactions with American and Mexican settler colonialism.

Based on fifteen years of archaeological and historical research in the two regions, Narratives of Persistence charts the remarkable persistence of the Ohlone and Paipai alongside a synthesis of Native Californian endurance over the past five centuries. As the case studies demonstrate, Ohlone and Paipai people made intelligent and culturally appropriate choices to cope with the impact of colonialism on their communities, even as they took different pathways to the present day.

Lee M. Panich illustrates how changes in Native identity and practice within these colonial contexts were made to best conduct the groups’ lives within shifting sets of colonial constraints. He draws connections between the events and processes of the deeper past and the way the Ohlone and Paipai today understand their own histories and identities, offering a model for how scholars of Indigenous histories may think about the connections between the past and the present.

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