[A beautiful bilingual mural painted by the HOODsisters collective in Pacoima in honour of Toypurina. Photograph found on the LATimes website]
Today’s HHBlog post is dedicated to someone who probably most people in the USA have not heard of in their mainstream public history education, Toypurina. Toypurina, born in 1761, was a Tongva medicine woman and resistance fighter from the village of Jachivit. In 1771, at the age of ten, Toypurina’s world would be drastically changed when the San Gabriel Mission was founded in present day California, just kilometres from her home village. She spent the next several years of her life living within the world of these Spanish missionaries and soldiers, alongside countless other Indigenous neophytes. At the age of twenty-four Toypurina helped lead the warriors of approximately seven villages in rebellion against the San Gabriel Mission on October 25, 1785.
The rebellion was quickly put down by the San Gabriel Mission’s guards, and all involved were subjected to twenty-five lashes of the whip and roughly twenty of the Indigenous warriors were imprisoned, including Toypurina. When Toypurina was put on trial she is quoted in the work of Kelly Lytle Hernández as having said that she was “angry with the Padres and with all of those of this Mission because they had come to live and establish themselves in her land.” The Mission found her guilty of insurrection, after which she spent two years imprisoned and then was banished from her homelands in the Tongva Basin (part of present-day Los Angeles). During her time imprisoned at the Mission, her name appears in the baptismal records, with a new name, Regina, given to her. It is unclear whether or not she converted willingly, but her Indigenous husband did not convert. They were forced to annul.
Following her banishment, she lived in exile at the San Carlos Borromeo Mission of Carmel, where she partnered with a soldier named Manuel. In 1799, after having birthed four children in exile, Toypurina passed away.
Here at the HHBlog, we raise our fists and tip our hats to Toypurina and all the Indigenous women of Turtle Island who have fought tooth and nail against the multilayered colonialisms that have carved new borders and wrought new violences on these lands.
Hernández, Kelly Lytle. City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771-1965. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017.
Rasmussen, Cecilia. “Shaman and Freedom-Fighter Led Indians’ Mission Revolt.” June 10, 2001. http://articles.latimes.com/2001/jun/10/local/me-8853. Accessed December 15, 2017.