Letters to the Editor: 6,000 Indigenous dead are buried at a mission now being celebrated

The San Gabriel Mission on Sept. 8 with renovations after a 2020 fire nearly complete.
The San Gabriel Mission on Thursday with renovations after a 2020 fire nearly complete.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: It’s great that Catholic parishioners will be able to worship again at Mission San Gabriel with their restored church, which was severely damaged in a fire two years ago. It’s also wonderful that the mission is celebrating its 250-year jubilee.

But as usual, all the attention is paid to architecture.

The 6,000 Tongva Indians buried at the mission are still erased, and the Catholic Church still wants to celebrate colonialism with its fantasy heritage and airbrush the atrocities against the Indians committed at this site and the other missions.

The time for reconciliation and reckoning seems a long way off. But it needs to come. Someday.


Mark Day, Vista

The writer is a former Franciscan priest.


To the editor: Your article says that the San Gabriel Mission “was founded by controversial saint Junípero Serra, viewed by some as a colonizer and others as a protector of Indigenous peoples.”

I am unclear how forced labor, imprisonment, forced religious conversion, and cruel and extreme punishment for engaging in their own religious practice or for speaking their languages can be described as “protection” of Indigenous Californians.

Serra’s mission system is comparable to China’s systematic repression of its minority Muslim population. The prisons in which Uyghurs are detained, forcibly “reeducated” and their labor exploited are deemed to be concentration camps and the system declared to be genocidal by human rights organizations.

Jo Perry, Studio City