Toypurina 1760-1799

Toypurina was 10 years old when Spanish missionaries made their way into California, her native land. She lived in a village called Jachivit, it was near this village that the Spanish established the San Gabriel Mission. Toypurina would spend her teenage years watching the foreigners abuse the Native People. They forced people to convert to Christianity, infected them with foreign diseases and prevented them from practicing Native dances, among other things. 

By 1785 Toypurina became a medicine woman and was reputed to be very wise. It was in this year that Nicolas Jose would contact her concerning a rebellion. She organized people from her tribe and those surrounding it to attack the mission and root out the Spanish oppressors. Unfortunately for Toypurina, her plan was intercepted by a Spanish man who spoke her language. Some of the attackers escaped but others, including Toypurina, were captured and put on trial. 

When Toypurina was brought before a judge, she kicked over the stool which she was expected to sit on. She stood proud and stated,

"I hate the padres and all of you, for living here on my native soil, for trespassing upon the land of my forefathers and despoiling our tribal domains."

The judges took no corporal action against Toypurina. Instead they coerced her into conversion and exiled her from her Native Land, she was one of very many Native people who were displaced during colonization.  

[Click photo for artist credit]

In this issue:

Decolonization is NOT a metaphor!

Words to Know! -  Settler Society, Indigenous Sovereignty, Decolonization!

Excerpt- Decolonization is NOT a metaphor!

Excerpt - The Release!

Plant Profile! - Oregon Grape!

Call for Submissions - Herbalism and Masculinities! 

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The Story of “Toypurina”

I can’t believe what I found on YouTube!!! Please watch. This was co-directed and produced by my father.
It is the story of Toypurina, a renegade of her time and Tongva (California Tribe, Gabrielino) woman.

This is a project I feel needs to be made into a full length film. I hope it comes to fruition.

July 26th is 227th Anniversary of Toypurina's Baptism

On this day, July 26, 227 years ago, the heroine of our play, Toypurina became Regina Josepha.

According to the sources we have come across, this was the day that Toypurina was baptized as a Christian with this new name.

Sources indicate that this baptism was not something that Toypurina chose willingly. It seems that, after being imprisoned in solitary confinement for 16 months , the only way that her captors would release her she would be released was to say that she would renounce her own spiritual beliefs and agree to be baptized.

Following this, she was taken from the Mission San Gabriel and forced to live and work in Missions far away from her people “where she would not have the hope to return to her family or cause new problems with her influence.”  Two years later, she was married to Manuel Montero, a soldier at the Presidio in Monterey. It is believed that this was a forced marriage.

Eventually, Toypurina had four children by her new husband and died at the age of thirty-nine, 300 miles from her homeland, her people and her culture and buried in an unmarked grave at the Mission San Juan Bautista.

 Mission San Juan Bautista, Toypurina’s resting place, approximately 45 miles south of San Jose . 

Written by Jonathan Salisbury for 

Photograph by David Healy from

…Indigenous scholars have compared Toypurina to Joan of Arc because “both were religious leaders of their people, both organized revolts against invading foreign powers, both led rebel forcers in the field, both were betrayed, both were subjected to sham trials, and both suffered tragic ends.” Toypurina’s story has therefore been taken up today by communities who either trace their lineage to the Gabrielinos, or who might in some way relate to a narrative of oppression and resistance…

A stone mound, like one the Gabrielinos would have designated as a place of prayer, embodies a feminist ideology the artist worked into the project.

It is a tribute to Toypurina, a 23-year-old Gabrielino woman who led a revolt against the Spanish missionaries, she said.

"Toypurina was depicted (by the Spanish) as a seductress and sorceress because she organized large groups of native people to fight the Mission San Gabriel and bring it down. For that, she was banished from her native land. I felt it was appropriate to put her back into her own territory."


On this day, July 27, in 1993 Artist Judy Baca was in the midst of “Danza Indigenas” a public artwork she designed for the Baldwin Park Metrolink Rail Station.

She wanted to portray an “authentic” and “truthful” vision of the area’s history. 

Etched into the weathered adobe-like central arch is the word Sunigna , the Gabrielino name for the area, and a quote from Latino author Gloria Anzaldua: "This land was Mexican once, was Indian always and is, and will be again."