CORVALLIS- An Oregon State University history professor has received a prestigious Pew Faculty Fellowship-- one of only six awarded nationally for 1998-99 by the Pew Program in Religion and American History at Yale University.
Steven W. Hackel, an assistant professor of history at OSU, will use the $37,000 grant to complete his study on the involvement of California Indians in Franciscan missions during the Spanish settlement of California.
Hackel says scholarly attention on the Indian-Spanish relationship has focused too narrowly on whether the Franciscans were "cruel or saintly." He hopes to broaden that viewpoint by examining Indian involvement in the creation and maintenance of Franciscan missions. The analysis of their day-to-day life should present a more balanced viewpoint on Indian-Spanish relations, he pointed out.
The issue of how the Indians were influenced by Catholicism is difficult to study, Hackel said.
"Franciscan missionaries in California rarely recorded Indian religious beliefs, which they dismissed as dangerous superstitions," Hackel said. "The issue of Indian receptivity to the intricacies of Catholic doctrine is important, but ultimately inscrutable.
"Instead, I'll be looking at the wide range of Indian responses to the codes of Catholic behavior the Franciscans prescribed for them: regular attendance at work and at mass, marital fidelity, sobriety, and monogamy- and the larger political, economic and demographic aspects of the missions that continuously reshaped Indian life in colonial California."
Hackel is working on a book, "Indian-Spanish Relations in Colonial California: Mission San Carlos Borromeo, 1769-1848."
Hackel joined the OSU faculty in 1996 after spending two years as a fellow at the Institute of Early American History and Culture and as a visiting assistant professor at the College of William and Mary. He has a B.A. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in history from Cornell University.