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Riverbank History
Estanislaos Experience Surrounding Mission Life
riverbank fountain

Sometime after arriving at Mission San Jose, Cucunucci had his name changed to Estanislao, his wife became Estanislaa.

In 1819 the couple had had a daughter named Lanacuye. At the mission, her name was changed to Sexta. Cucunucci’s mother changed her name to Orencia.

Three days later, Mexico rebelled against Spain and won its independence. Things changed at the mission and were no longer the way Estanislao’s brother Orencio had once described them. The mission system itself gradually became weakened and secularized and the authority of the padres was undermined.

The work the padres ordered the Indians to do did not change very significantly. They still cultivated crops, herded cattle and worked as blacksmiths. Some were also carpenters, brick makers or weavers. Estanislao himself worked with cattle and did such a good job that he soon became an alcalde, or leader of his people.

Mission life was not easy however, and Estanislao began to become upset over the treatment his people were getting. The young men were locked in at night and watched to keep them away from the women. The women themselves were guarded night and day.

In some cases, the conditions that the Indians were forced to live in were deplorable. Married couples had nice dwellings with tile flooring and perhaps a chamber pot, but single people were given buildings with dirt flooring and a hole in one corner for human waste.

Discipline was also harsh with everyone being required to get up before dawn. Breakfast was served and then it was off to mass with the Indians standing to hear the sermon. After mass, the Indians were required to work in the fields. Anyone who disagreed with the way things were run was lashed, put into stocks or jailed. If anyone tried to escape, they were hunted down by soldiers and brought back.

There may be two other factors that influenced Estanislao to rebel. In 1824 his wife gave birth to a son named Estanislao Junior, but the child died before reaching the age of two. Their daughter also died in the same year. One may also wonder what Estanislao felt watching people around him die from the illnesses the Mexicans passed to the Indians which they had no immunity to.

Promises were given repeatedly by Governor Jose Maria de Echeandia that the Indians would soon go free, but the day never seemed to arrive. Only a handful of Indians were ever freed.

Sometime in 1827, Estanislao took over 100 people in his tribe with him on a paseo. The purpose of the paseo was to allow him to visit with his village and hopefully tell them about mission life in order to convert them and encourage them to come back to the mission. On this paseo, however, Estanislao did not come back.