Extinct Ancient Societies Gabrielino American Indians Part 2

About the Gabrielino Native Americans, history of the extinct society, how they were destroyed and the last of them.



In everyday life, the Gabrielino coexisted peacefully with the bountiful land. They had a rigid custom of bathing daily, and they never wore clothes, though the women sometimes wore aprons. They lived in spacious well-ventilated cabins constructed on pole frameworks with tule mats for walls. The Gabrielino were monogamous and made exceptional parents, devoting much of their time to their children. If a man's wife was adulterous, he would beat or kill her and then take her lover's wife as his own.

How and When Destroyed: In 1542 the Gabrielino first encountered Europeans when a Spanish fleet under the command of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo arrived. Although Spanish explorers frequently visited Gabrielino shores, it was not until 1769 that Spaniards, under Gaspar de Portola, came to establish permanent settlements. Soon thereafter, the Gabrielino, who had never been exposed to infectious illnesses before, began falling victim to European diseases.

In 1771 Mission San Gabriel was established in the heart of the Gabrielino nation, and the Spanish began herding the Indians into the mission compound. Crowded conditions and continuous contact with Europeans made the Gabrielino even more susceptible to sickness. Within decades, they were nearing extinction. Most of them either became serfs on mission lands or fled to the interior to live with Indian tribes still free of white domination.

When the U.S. took control of California in 1848, the remaining Gabrielino and their problems were simply ignored by the Americans. The survivors turned increasingly to alcohol and this, together with the fact that almost 90% were infected with syphilis, so weakened them constitutionally that they fell easy victims to pneumonia and tuberculosis.

The Last of the Gabrielino: In the late 1700s there remained some 5,000 to 10,000 Gabrielino. A few Gabrielino Indians survived into the 20th century and lived in Los Angeles. Several were interviewed by writer John Harrington, who reported that one Gabrielino told him, "When Indians died, the villages ended. We, all the people, ended." By 1950 the last full-blooded Gabrielino had died.

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