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Often criticized, Serra gets a reappraisal from historians
Often criticized, Serra gets a reappraisal from historians

When archaeologist Ruben Mendoza was a boy, his father was prone to fiery outbursts in the family's mobile home on the tough west side of Fresno. One of the biggest targets of his anger, Mendoza remembers, was the Catholic Church and its California missions. "Over and over, he claimed Catholic missions were cancers that Spain brought to the New World," Mendoza said. Mendoza, who is of Yaqui Indian and Mexican American heritage, was shaped by his father's hatred. "I became obsessed with 'pure' ancient Indian cultures," he recalled. When his fourth-grade class built models of the historic missions, he asked his teacher if he could do something...

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