Saturday, January 29, 2005


Open Letter to Senator Boxer.

Dear Senator Boxer;

I am writing in response to an article I read just now in the North County Times: It's been a year since your bill to restore the California Missions was passed.

I didn't know you'd submitted this bill, but after watching you stand up regarding the Ohio vote issues, your tenacious questioning of Dr. Rice's history of falsehoods, and your championing of what is truly moral in this country, I am not surprised. I applaud your efforts wholeheartedly, and want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I grew up in California. I made many trips to various missions with my grandmother. I've seen the beautiful gardens, picnicked beneath fragrant pepper trees, marveled at the murals and decorative motifs painted on the white walls of the chapels. I've seen the fingerprints in the clay tiles used to roof these buildings, learned how they were shaped over the thighs of Native Americans to give them their tapered form.

I've felt sadness at seeing the ruins of the Soledad mission, felt the wind blowing through the abandoned site and the suffered a sense of longing at seeing the adobe-brick walls melted from rain.

I've run delightedly through a courtyard under flowering bougainvillea to a sparkling, musical fountain with glazed tiles lining the basin.

I also learned of the forced conversion of the Native Americans. Roger Williams said over a hundred years prior to the arrival of the Franciscan padres that forced conversion "stinks in God's nostrils". Even as a child the dichotomy of the beauty and serenity of the missions and the use of the tribes to build them caused me to pause in deep thought.

You're right. The missions are a very real part of Californian history. They should be preserved as jewels, and as testament to the work of the local Native Americans.

Letting them disintegrate would be akin to the demolition of the huge statues of Buddha in Afghanistan by the Taliban, or the looting of antiquities in Baghdad.

Thank you for the foresight to preserve these architectural treasures for future generations.

Jean Dudley.

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