The Early California Cultural Atlas (ECCA) visualizes the transformations in California before 1850 by mapping the migration of Indians from their native villages to Franciscan missions, the immigration of soldiers and settlers to California from northern Mexico, the initiation and growth of domestic agriculture and animal husbandry at the missions, and the transfer of huge parcels of land from California Indians to private Spanish and Mexican landholders.
Before European colonization California was home to some 325,000 Indians, roughly a third of whom lived between what is now San Diego and San Francisco. Beginning in 1769, California was resettled by Spanish Franciscans, soldiers, and colonists. Over the next eighty years the peoples and lands of California were remade by political and biological forces that we are only now beginning to understand in their totality.
The establishment of Mission San Diego in 1769 as the first of twenty-one Franciscan missions in California initiated the movement of tens of thousands of Indians to missions where most died prematurely from disease. At the same time, Spanish livestock began to crowd out California’s native fauna, and newly introduced vegetation began to push aside indigenous plants, greatly undermining the subsistence practices of California Indians. Then, during the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s, the ownership of much of California passed from Indians to Spaniards and Mexicans, as California’s governors granted large tracts of land to their subordinates and friends.
The ECCA Project
ECCA is in the early stages of development. So far, exploratory studies and interfaces have been constructed and can be explored on this website. Multiple types of data have been collected and integrated for two missions in the Monterey region and the Los Angeles Basin. Ultimately, ECCA aims to disrupt the certainty of traditional mapping techniques by embracing spatial ambiguities and adopting new methods of web-based visualizations.
In addition to our featured visualizations, ECCA also provides vital sources, methodologies, timelines, curricula for researchers and educators interested in understanding the dramatic historical events shaping early California. We hope you enjoy our site and welcome your comments! Please keep checking in as we scale up our project to include all of California.