Fraser, Mary Ann (author and illustrator). A Mission for the People: The Story of La Purisma. Henry Holt, 1997. $15.95. ISBN 0-8050-5050-7.
My public school teacher friends tell me they teach the history of the California missions--a sad story no matter how it's taught. For it is really the story of tribes like the Santa Barbara area Chumash, who had it fine before the rest of us showed up. Fraser depicts this time poetically: "Grasses rippled across foothills freckled with ancient oak trees." Her illustrations in soft colors portray indigenous life, then, beginning in 1542 with the arrival of Cabrillo, its disappearance. Chumash life becomes centered around the mission which their labor builds, protects, and maintains; their fortunes rise and fall with it as it passes possession from the Spanish military to the padres to the Mexicans to the U.S. Sensitively told and full of illustrations, including side columns detailing contemporary artifacts, Fraser's story is an excellent multidisciplinary source--art, history, geography, and so on.