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By Levi Clancy for לוי on

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The first explorers did not even know if California was an island, and it remained a mystery to Europeans until later in the 17th century.

From Mexico would eventually launch the exploration and settlement of California.

California was named by Spanish explorers in the 16th century.

It was the name of a treasure island in a story that was well-known at the time. In 1542, Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first to sail along California's coast. He was looking for riches and a waterway through North America. In 1579, English sea captain Sir Francis Drake also sailed the coast and claimed land for England. Spain feared it might lose California. In 1595 it sent Sebastian Cermenho to further explore. Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino was sent in 1602. Over 150 more years passed before additional Spanish explorers were sent to California.

1510Garci Ordonez de Montalvo describes California as an island near the Terrestrial Paradise.
1513Vascu Nunez de Balboa discovers the Pacific Ocean.
1519Ferdinand Magellan commences the first circumnavigation of the globe.
1519Spaniards under the command of Hernan Cortes commence the conquest of Mexico.
1532Fortun Jimenez is perhaps the first to use the name "California" to describe the isthmus west of Mexico.
1535Hernan Cortes founds a settlement he calls Santa Cruz Bay, near La Paz in Baja California.
1539Francisco de Ulloa explores the mouth of the Colorado River and discovers that Baja California is a peninsula, not an island.
1540Hernando de Alarcon ascends the Colorado River. He or Melchor Diaz becomes the first European to cross into Alta California.
1542Navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, sailing for Spain, commences reconnaissance of Alta California coast.
1564Miguel Lopez de Legazpi establishes Spanish presence in the Philippines.
1565First Manila galleon crosses the Pacific from the Philippines to Mexico.
1577English flotilla under the command of Francis Drake commences second circumnavigation of the globe.
1579Golden Hinde enters Drake's Bay on the Point Reyes peninsula.
1595Spanish galleon San Agustin is drive aground at Point Reyes.
1602Sebastian Vizcaino explores California coast to Cape Mendocino, after which the Spanish government abandons exploration of the region for 167 years.
1697Jesuits establish first of eighteen missions in Baja California.

Foreign intrusion

Foreign intrusion in this case refers to systematic intrusion of populations from other continents.

The indigenous tribes of California became strangers in their own land, and their history became contextualized into the political institutions introduced into the area. Often described as European settlement or Spanish colonization, this era was far more than just Spanish. The Pobladores were from the very beginning a kaleidoscope of European, Mesoamerican, African and mesclado people. In fact, of the Pobladores brought to settle Los Angeles from Sonora, one of them (who wound up having to stay behind) was Asian, likely Filipino.

The primary thing Spanish was that the territory came under military and political control of Nueva Espana, under the Spanish crown on a different continent. The king and queen of Spain never visited. Enduring political control was held regionally at the highest political strata by Spanish Ladino elites. It was firm and genocidal in some areas, but tenuous for a century more in others.

Also, the myth of a previously pristine, untouched people is inaccurate.

There were significant population shifts from other North American regions, and evidence of contact with Polynesians and Japanese. These were not uncontacted people, these were people whose history has been re-defined by political and cultural interests of a later, land-owning elite.

Spanish colonization

Franciscan intrustions.
1768Jesuits are expelled from the Spanish empire and replaced in Baja California with Franciscans.
In 1769, Gaspar de Portola led an expedition to build several presidios (forts). At the same time, Franciscan friar Padre Junipero Serra began the first mission in Alta California, Mission San Diego.

Over the next 24 years Franciscans established 21 missions that were linked by El Camino Real (the King's Highway), each mission one day's walk from the other. Even with missions, forts and pueblos, Spain did not have total control. In northern Alta California, Russia had fur-trading posts that remained until 1823.

Mesoamerican arrival
African diaspora
1818Hipólito Bouchard was a pirate who harassed California.

Russian forts