Narratives of Persistence
Indigenous Negotiations of Colonialism in Alta and Baja California
The Ohlone of the San Francisco Bay area and the Paipai of northern Baja California occupy opposite ends of the spectrum of Native Californian identities. Or so it would appear. While the Ohlone lack popular recognition and official acknowledgement from the United States government, the Paipai occupy a large reserve and celebrate their ongoing cultural traditions throughout Baja California and southern California. Yet the two groups share a similar colonial history: entanglements with early European explorers, labor and enculturation at Spanish missions, and sustained interactions with American and Mexican settler colonialism.
Based on fifteen years of archaeological and historical research in the two regions, Narratives of Persistence charts the remarkable persistence of the Ohlone and Paipai alongside a synthesis of Native Californian endurance over the past five centuries. As the case studies demonstrate, Ohlone and Paipai people made intelligent and culturally appropriate choices to cope with the impact of colonialism on their communities, even as they took different pathways to the present day.
Lee M. Panich illustrates how changes in Native identity and practice within these colonial contexts were made to best conduct the groups’ lives within shifting sets of colonial constraints. He draws connections between the events and processes of the deeper past and the way the Ohlone and Paipai today understand their own histories and identities, offering a model for how scholars of Indigenous histories may think about the connections between the past and the present.
"I recommend this book to both academic and public audiences. Panich does a wonderful job at leading an assumed novice reader through the necessary background of colonial research, Native Californian origins, first European encounters, the Spanish Mission system, and subsequent colonial consequences in Alta and Baja California. This publication would be a great addition to reading lists for students to interact with progressive archaeological research or as a standalone material for a seminar on archaeological activism. If contemporary culture and stereotypes are to be challenged and changed, I suggest a public access serial. This publication’s conversation about colonialism, decolonisation, and interpretation offers the first steps toward advocating archaeologically and could not have come at a better time."—Caitlin Jacobson, Archaeology Review
"Lee Panich has authored an exceptionally well-written comparative view of the extended “colonial encounter” experienced by the Ohlone of Alta California (United States) and the Paipai of Baja California (Mexico). Panich’s work is exceptional in that it demonstrates the strength of the long-standing tradition of comparative research in the region while benefitting from the varied social discourses characteristic of the twenty-first century. It is contemporary in its appreciation of the relevance and connection between the past and present for First Nations descendant communities surviving within settler states."—Matthew Des Lauriers, American Anthropologist
"Readers will find Narratives of Persistence coherent and brief (despite the sweeping history), with an analytical depth that makes it well pitched for a large readership and specialists in California Indian history, Indigenous studies, archeology, ethnohistory, settler colonialism, transnational history, and Pacific Rim studies."—Baligh Ben Taleb, American Indian Culture and Research Journal
"This timely and well-researched study contributes an important voice to the fiercely contested (and often political) narrative of tribal authenticity. Anthropologists’ declarations of cultural continuity have a profound effect on federally regulated sovereignty rights and tribal self-determination, and this reframing of cultural authenticity and persistence is an important contribution to contemporary struggles for Native groups."—Charlotte K. Sunseri, California Archaeology
"The book is successful at explaining complex themes with a didactic verve that is accessible to a wide readership. By focusing on persistence and the importance of contemporary Paipai and Ohlone memories, Panich shows how erasure is a conversation about the epistemic violence by colonizers and academia, and that it has no base for the communities that have survived throughout the course of their histories."—Marianne Sallum, Historical Archaeology
"(Lee Panich) draws connections between the events and processes of the deeper past and the way the Ohlone and Paipai today understand their own histories and identities, offering a model for how scholars of Indigenous histories may think about the connections between the past and the present."—Book Authority
“Panich draws connections between the events and processes of the deeper past and the way the Ohlone and Paipai today understand their own histories and identities, offering a model for how scholars of Indigenous histories should think about the connections between the past and the present.”—Ashley Riley Sousa, Middle Tennessee State University