Chumash Revolt of 1824

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The Chumash Revolt of 1824 was an uprising of the Chumash Native Americans against the Spanish presence in The Californias. The rebellion occurred in present day California Missions Mission Santa Inés, Mission Santa Barbara, and Mission La Purisima. It lasted from the 21st of February, to the 24th of February.[1]

Prelude to the conflict[edit]

The Chumash were first encountered by Europeans in 1542, when explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo's ships landed in Chumash territory. However, the Chumash's domain wasn't settled by the Spaniards until 1772, when a mission, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, was established in Chumash lands. Many more missions were founded, examples being Mission San Buenaventura, Santa Barbara, La Purisima, and Santa Ynez. The Spanish converted many Chumash to Christianity, but other people wanted the Spanish out of their homeland, California.

First Raids[edit]

When Mexico gained control over Spanish California in 1821, following its own independence from Spain, things seemed hopeless for the former Spanish colonists and soldiers. Not only had a former Spanish colony won independence and taken over their land, but under the orders of the unpopular King Ferdinand VII, the Spanish government had stopped their funding of all of the Spanish missions and presidios in California. This news was too much for the Spanish settlers to bear, and former Spanish soldiers began to take their anger out on the Native Californians. On February 21, 1824, a young Chumash boy from Mission La Purisima was severely beaten by a Mexican soldier when he was visiting a relative imprisoned inside the Mission Santa Inés guardhouse. This brutal act caused the Chumash neophytes in the mission to take up arms against the soldiers, attacking them with arrows and setting multiple buildings on fire. Two of the Chumash assailants were killed. After a heated battle with many wounded and the arrival Chumash reinforcements, the mission's priest and soldiers barricaded themselves inside a building, where they waited to be rescued until the next day, by a detachment of Mexican troops from the Presidio of Santa Barbara. The soldiers forced the Santa Inés rebels into the neophyte housing of the mission, which they promptly burnt down to flush the Chumash out. Some of the Chumash ran off to the two nearest missions, Santa Barbara and La Purisima, to inform their fellow Chumash of the revolt, and to join them. One messenger met with the Wot (leader) of the Chumash tribe, and informed him of the successful revolt against Mission Santa Inés. The Chumash leader ordered a call to arms among his people and more attacks on the surrounding missions, as well as the evacuation of all women and children to the mountains. The Chumash warriors armed themselves with bows and arrows and machetes, preparing for the inevitable conflict against the Mexican soldiers.

As the Chumash revolted against the Mexican soldiers inside Mission Santa Inés, a group of 2,000 Chumash warriors made a frontal assault on Mission La Purisima, capturing it and taking the soldiers, priests and civilians inside as prisoners. During the assault of the mission, one Chumash warrior was killed, and in retaliation, the rebels massacred four innocent travelers that they had captured during the battle. Afterwards, the Chumash occupiers were reinforced by the warriors fleeing from the skirmish at Santa Inés, as well as Chumash from Mission San Fernando Rey de España. The insurgents began to fortify La Purisima, erecting wooden palisades and cutting gun loops out of the mission's walls, arming themselves with the mission's muskets. Simultaneously, Mission Santa Barbara was also captured by another force of Chumash, who forced the mission's soldiers, clergy and civilians to retreat to the nearby Santa Barbara Presidio. Soon after the capture of Mission Santa Barbara, however, a small force of Mexican troops and priests arrived at the mission from the presidio, attempting to negotiate the surrender of the Santa Barbara rebels. Predictably, the Chumash refused, and a heated battle raged inside the mission for multiple hours, ending with two Chumash killed and three wounded, and four Mexican soldiers wounded. The Mexican detachment fled back to the presidio, while the Chumash defenders sacked the mission of its valuables and supplies, and retreated into the country.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Blackburn, Thomas. "The Chumash Revolt of 1824: A Native Account". The Journal of California Anthropology (Malki Museum) 2 (2): 223–227. JSTOR 27824841.