Lisabeth Haas on the life and work of Pablo Tac
Sunday, July 15, 2012, 5:00 P.M., City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

celebrating the release of

Pablo Tac, Indigenous Scholar: Writing on Luiseño Language & Colonial History, C. 1840

published by University of California Press

Illustrated by James Luna

Noted California historian Lisbeth Haas presents the writing of Pablo Tac, a Luiseño Indian born at Mission San Luis Rey in l820, with his biography and an analysis of the unique perspectives he offered on Luiseño language and history during Spanish colonialism.

This volume on Luiseño language and culture makes available a remarkable body of writings, the only indigenous account of early nineteenth-century California. It offers a new approach to understanding California's colonial history.The grammatical examples Tac uses to explain the Luiseño language are important linguistically and culturally because they reveal the social relationships, material practices, and ideas common among Luiseños. His dictionary leaves a record of the translations that he and his elders made of Luiseño words into Spanish and vice versa. When read together, the distinct part of the manuscript make clear how Luiseños' maintained their access to power despite their political defeat by the Spaniards. Pablo Tac also expresses Luiseño equality with the Spanish despite the harsh conditions they faced during the mission era. The unique linguistic, cultural, and historical records presented in this book reveal indigenous life and thought under Spanish colonialism in California, and provide a means to compare colonial-era Luiseño and the language as it is written and being taught today. James Luna reflects on Pablo Tac’s contemporary significance, and Luna’s art increases the book’s visual beauty.

Lisbeth Haas is Professor of History and Chair of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Conquests and Historical Identities in California, 1769–1936 (UC Press).

James Luna is an internationally known American Indian contemporary artist of Payomkowishum descent. He is a member of the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians.