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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fages' Code of Conduct Toward Indians, 1787

  • Author(s): Mason, William Marvin
  • et al.

In December and January of 1786-1787, Pedro de Fages, who was governor of Alta and Baja California in 1787, stopped in the Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles on a routine inspection trip through the southern part of the province. While at San Gabriel in early January of 1787, Fages wrote a code of conduct toward Indians for the corporal in charge of the little four-man guard unit in Los Angeles. This soldier, Vicente Feliz, was acting corporal of the guard, although he was actually a private. He was invested with special powers to facilitate military control of the pueblo and see to it that as little difficulty as possible arose between settlers of the pueblo and the large Indian population of the surrounding Indian rancherias or villages of the district.

The rules set down by Fages concerning relationships with the Indians of the Los Angeles area are of considerable interest, since they shed some light on the attitude of the settlers toward Indians and the established practices of social interaction between settlers and Indians in the field of labor. Before discussing Fages' code of conduct toward Indians, however, I shall first briefly present some biographical information about Fages and then describe in greater detail the background of the life of settlers and Indians in the vicinity of Los Angeles at the time of Fages' visit.

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