Special Guest – Anne Schroeder

Hi, I’m Anne Schroeder and I’m here to tell you that God works in mysterious ways. Never truer than the journey I took in writing about Maria Inés, a Salinan (Mission) Indian who lived though the Spanish, Mexican and Yanqui conquest of her beloved California. No petticoats or pistols in her life. Her grandmother, a pre-Christianized Salinan, wore only a smile in the summer and a deerskin loincloth in the winter. (Central Coast winters tend to be mild.)

In severe weather she added a coating of mud from the sulphur springs that later made Paso Robles a world-class health spa. She soaked sore muscles in the steaming ooze—as long as a grizzly wasn’t doing the same thing. The tribe posted lookouts to warn when one approached because the osos liked mud baths, too.

When the Salinans heard the roar of a Spanish blunderbuss, they invited Fr. Serra to build a Mission on their lands, in part for the protection that the pistols and long-guns offered against the bears. But protection came at a price.

Maria Inés is a composite of the Christianized Indians who came willingly to Christ, only to find that their freedom to return to their rancherios was compromised once they were under the providence of the padres who saw them as “children of God” and their responsibility.

The padres wrote the native Salinan language in books, their “talking leaves,” in an attempt to learn the nuances, but the young people preferred the lyrical languages that the Spanish brought: Castilian Spanish with its endless variety of words for love, and Latin for praising God. Gradually, whether from force or from choice, the old ways died out. Too bad for Maria Inés.

Music entered the Missions with violins, guitars and cymbals. Dancing followed, with the padres’ rule of “no touching.” Quadrilles, jotas and zambras danced by the high-born Spanish families were mimicked in segregated dance pavilions by the Indians. The gente de razon, highborn, Spanish women wore three petticoats under their full gathered skirts so that no hint of limb might be seen. Their dresses were often black, their hair styles severe, the better to avoid carnal sins of vanity or inciting lust.

Maria Inés wore a skirt and blouse of coarsely woven hemp to hide her nakedness, but she listened to her grandmother’s tales of T’e Lxo, the thunder that shouted from the sky.

The padres taught her to pray on rosary beads, but she was a child torn between two worlds. Petticoats and pistols, romance and hard labor– extremes that defined Maria Inés life.


I wrote Maria Inés’ story because the truth of the Mission era is complex, and the death of the Indians, not just the Catholics’ fault. A complex love story published by Five Star Publishing and sold to libraries and on Kindle. If you’re intrigued, ask your library to order a copy or two. I include glossaries of Salinan and Spanish Mission terms to sort out the players. It’s a book your grandma would love, too.

Anne will be giving away a print copy of her book Maria Ines to one lucky reader who leaves a comment on this post.


Five Star  Purchase Link

 Amazon Purchase Link





+ posts

26 thoughts on “Special Guest – Anne Schroeder”

  1. It is so sad that cultures are lost when they merge with or are over run by a larger, stronger one. It has happened throughout history and continues today. I was in the Peace Corps 45 + years ago. Westernization was creeping in then and only the remote areas were holding on to their customs. Now even those areas and peoples have likely been engulfed.
    I can understand the padres wish to convert and “save” the native peoples. They believed they were offering something better. However, to treat the adults like children needing to be cared for and protected was wrong. They had survived harsher conditions for many generations. Too bad they didn’t realize letting the native peoples incorporate christianity into their traditional way of life would enrich it. I am impressed that they translated things into the Salinan language.I know it was to bring them into the church, but still it took effort. That the Salinans appreciated different languages and learned them shows their intelligence. They were mature individual that did not need to be treated like children. They were lesser and the lines drawn in society made that very clear.
    I enjoy stories where culture plays a part in influencing who people are and how their relationships develop. I am sure this will be an interesting story.

    • Patricia, so true. So often it is the elders who lose their place when civilizations shift. I remember reading of this in college, with the Chinese in Chinatown, San Francisco turning to the street gangs for advice and against their grandfathers who no longer held answers for this new life.

    • The padres encouraged marriage to Indian girls. It solved the problem of restless soldiers and encouraged assimilation, as well as the production of new Christian babies. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Maria Ines sounds like a difficult story to research and retell. Maybe because I live on the east coast, I have never heard of the Salina Indians. Your book sounds intriguing.

    • So much attention has been given to other Indians, but not so much the California tribes. I’m hoping to help change this. If you want, request that your library order this book from Gale/Cengage, a supplier of library books. That will help spread the word. Thank you for commenting.

  3. Hi Anne! Welcome to the Junction. We’re so happy to have you. You’ve brought an interesting subject. I don’t know why others can’t leave different cultures alone. History is full of cases where others force smaller/weaker cultures to be like them. Why can’t they let people just “be?” I suspect this problem will never stop. Maria Ines sounds like a great story. I loved your “CHOLAMA MOON.”

    Wishing you much success!

    • Melanie, Hi.Thank you for dropping by. If you think about it, ask your library to order a copy. That’s how Five Star distributes a lot of their books. It will benefit everyone. Happy writing.

  4. Anne: I have begun a book of Avila History that deals, originally, with the Stishni Chumash indians. The usurpation of their culture and language makes it most difficult to find information concerning them. Most of us, of European ancestry, have suffered the same fate by the powers that were in charge at the time we immigrated to the U.S. but it seems more heinous to have done so to native Americans. I am always appreciative when someone notes this travesty but I am not sure it will stop it in the future. I am thinking of the middle-east as I write.

    • I think it’s human nature to conquer and expand empires. Look at the Old Testament. Men like to play war and women like to follow their men. Ironically, the men who are peaceful and accepting have long been considered less manly. This will change. It has to. Thanks for dropping by. Best of luck on your project. I’m interested.

  5. Yours is the first book I’ve read that opened the possibility of a truly protective motive in “shepherding” the Salinans into the Mission. How the mission shepherds themselves were treated under Mexico’s independence from Spain, and the Mexicans under U.S. expansion, I either did not know or had forgotten. I’m proud to say that my California home was purchased legally from its prior Mexican/Spaniard owners when it was founded… and sad to say I was an adult teacher before I learned about the displaced Cahuilla first there. Thanks for opening our eyes, Anne; the story of Maria Inez is the story of a survivor.

    • Thank you Constance. I had help from some of the descendants of the Salinan. They helped me to stay focused and hopeful. And the book is really a 4-part series so there’s lots of room for hope. Thanks for dropping by.

    • I keep a copy of your book, Spirit of the Valley next to my computer. One of my favorite reference and mood books. Cited you in the bibliography of Maria Ines. Thank you so much for writing that book.

  6. Welcome to the Junction, Anne. I live on the Central Coast and have visited a number of missions. Zia, by Scott O’Dell, is set at San Buenaventure, not far from my home. It is a heart-rending account of mission life. Our area has much Chumash lore and many names, and I tried to incorporate a few Chumash facts into a recent middle-grade story. Their myth of the Rainbow Bridge is fascinating. Best of luck with your novel.

    • Thank you Tanya. One of my favorite books for YA is Anita of Rancho Del Mar, by Elaine O’Brien, set on a Spanish land-grant in Ventura County. I also found an old 6th grade Social Science book from the 1940s that has great stories. I love the old books from that era because the authors are often older and actually lived in the late 19th Century. Like watching early westerns on TV where the details are accurate, not “Hollywoodized.”

  7. Great post Anne. I appreciate how you mention many contributing factors. It’s easy to wrap drastic changes into a neat package, but this is has value and depth. Well done.

Comments are closed.